It’s been a beautiful few snowy days here in the Pacific Northwest. What Now? It’s hard to imaging, but it’s time to think about possible flooding in and around your home.

When most people think of snow, they rarely think of flooding. However, snowmelt flooding actually happens more than you would think. Flooding from melting snow can happen any time there is a quick temperature change. Most flood damage during the winter and early spring is caused by melting snow as a result of faulty gutters, cracks in foundations, and improper runoff. We look at how to protect your basement from snowmelt flooding.

1. Check your Roof

While snow may look light and fluffy, the weight of it can actually put tremendous pressure on your roof. Most roofs are designed to hold 20 pounds of snow per square foot, but snow can easily compact beyond this level and put your roof at risk of collapsing. Snow and ice that melt on your roof may pool, damage your roofing, and even leak and cause flooding into your home. Flat and low-slope roofs are at especially high risk for this kind of damage – clear them off before temperatures rise. It’s easiest to clear snow away when it’s fresh. Use roof rakes and shovels to clear your roof after every storm, and take care to stay safe. If you’ve neglected to clear your roof throughout the season, or you can’t access the roof to clean it safely on your own, you may want to hire a professional residential snow removal company to ensure the job is done well without putting you or your roof at risk.

closeup of roof with snow

2. Clear Around Your Home

Snow has a tendency to pile up around the perimeter of your home as it falls from the roof and gets shoveled from walkways. While the result may look like a winter wonderland at first, melting snow could quickly become a muddy, flooded mess come spring. When temperatures start to rise, shovel snow at least 3 to 5 feet away from the base of your home. Clear snow and debris out of and away from your gutters and downspouts so snowmelt can drain properly. Make sure the water flows away from the structure’s foundation, so water doesn’t pool nearby or leak into your home.

Man with shovel cleaning snow in the day light

3. Monitor and Maintain Your Yard

When lots of snow melts in your yard, gallons of water remain in its place. This water soaks into the soil, creating a soft, mushy surface texture. What can’t be absorbed by the ground will pool on the surface. Depending on its location, this water can ultimately flow back toward your home, crack its foundation and leak into your basement. To minimize the risk of damage from snowmelt flooding in your yard, spread out or remove large piles of snow before they melt. Monitor your yard to identify areas with down slopes and proper drainage where you can pile snow without worrying that it will flow back toward your home when it melts.

grass poking through meltig snow

The final thing to remember when you are piling up snow or have piles of it in your yard is to ensure that the snow banks are not too big. If you have mountains of snow, something could come along and snowball them, so to speak, and turn them into massive piles.