How to Prevent Flooding from Melting Snow

February 4, 2021

Did you know that most flood damage during the winter and early spring is actually caused by melting snow?

Flooding from melting snow happens as a result of a quick temperature change, faulty gutters, cracks in foundations, and improper runoff.

Most people rarely think of flooding when they think of snow; however, snowmelt flooding actually happens more than you would think.

We look at how to protect your basement from snowmelt flooding.

What Happens When Snow Melts?

As snow melts, it turns into water. As a general rule of thumb, ten inches of snow will melt into one inch of water. The actual amount depends on how heavy the snow is. Unlike rain, melting snow is already on the ground.

A quick thaw can introduce a significant amount of water to the soil around your property. If it can’t flow away from your foundation, it can pool there and may eventually enter your home. With enough water, it can cause flooding. Spring rains can make the situation worse, speeding up the melting snow while adding additional water.

If a home or business is located very close to a creek, river or other body of water, it will be at a higher risk. When snowmelt begins to occur, running water will rise at a far faster pace than when there is little rain. As a note, this can happen at any time during winter, as most areas will get at least a few warm days. 

What are the Main Problems Snowmelt Causes?

Although unlikely, a rapid thaw can result in snow flooding your basement or crawl space. This typically happens is there is a sudden change in temperature. Snowmelt flooding can damage flooring and walls, as well as furniture and personal items.

Water Damage

Similar to flooding, water damage can result if there is water enters your property more slowly. Water damage caused by snow melting typically happens during more gradual thaws but can result in the same amount of damage.


Anytime there is a persistent source of water, there is a potential for mold. Although mold generally prefers warmer temperatures, it will thrive if the conditions are right. It is most common during slow, gradual thaws, but may develop after water damage or a flood as well.

How to Prevent Snowmelt Flooding

  • Shovel snow away from your home, keeping it away from your foundation. Whenever possible, keep snow 5 feet away from your foundation.
  • If your home is on a grade or hill, shovel snow so that it doesn’t roll toward your home when it melts. This ensures melting snow flows away from your home, instead of towards it.
  • Clear snow from your roof to prevent excessive buildups. This prevents a significant amount of water flowing through your gutters during a thaw.
  • Keep drainage areas around your home clear of snow and ice build-up. This ensures melting snow will drain properly and helps prevent backups.
  • Inspect basement walls for cracks. This includes caulking around windows too. Make repairs as necessary to prevent water from entering your basement.
  • Check your landscaping before the snow arrives to ensure the ground slopes away from your home. Add additional soil if necessary to help melting snow flow away from your foundation.
  • Check your roof for ice and snow build-up. This can lead to ice damages that allow melting snow to enter through your roof.
  • Inspect your gutters and downspouts. Clear leaves and other debris regularly during the fall, as this can create blockages. Add downspout extensions to channel melting snow away from your home.
  • Check for and clear ice dams hanging from gutters. This places them directly over the perimeter of the home’s foundation, meaning that when they melt, they could lead to an increased flooding threat in the basement. 
  • Test your sump pump during the winter to ensure it works properly when the snow melts. Pour a bucket of water into the sump basin to engage the pump. If it doesn’t turn on, unplug the pump and investigate the issue.
  • Never ignore water in your basement. Investigate and repair the source as soon as possible.
  • If you have water in your basement or a flood from melting snow, dry and clean the area as quickly as possible.

Check your coverage

Many homeowners insurance policies do not cover floods. Make sure you have adequate flood insurance to prevent major financial losses when snowmelt begins to occur. 

Contact us today at (732) 566-0003 to review your current homeowners policy or request a new quote using the form below. 

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