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Is it OK to let a new construction house freeze?

swazo | Posted in General Questions on

New construction Zone 6A. With the recent very cold weather we have decided to heat the house on a limited basis. We poured the basement and garage about 25 days ago. We have a temporary furnace in the basement, windows and doors but no ceiling. It would be easy to block the stairs and keep the basement above freezing if necessary. The question is, will it hurt the house to let it freeze?


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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    If there isn't any plumbing yet, the concern is the soil under the footings. You certainly don't want the soil under the footings to freeze (or you risk heaving).

    Right now, it's -23°F where I live. When you get temperatures like that, footings can freeze unless the space above the footings is warm, and the foundation is backfilled with soil or hay.

  2. swazo | | #2

    Martin, thanks for the reply. The house is backfilled and there is no water in the roughed in plumbing. The footings are 48" down from grade and I put bags of leaves on the walk out slope where it steps down with grade. The basement slab has R 20 under and up the sides. The basement walls are exposed on the inside with R10 on the outside. I guess the vulnerability would be the exposed interior basement wall. So far the basement slab has stayed above freezing with outside night lows around -10. A commercial contractor friend was concerned that the cement floor would contract and crack. It's standard practice to let new houses sit without heat in this climate. I feel the risk of damage is too great not to keep some heat in the basement. Obviously it would be a huge issue if the footings froze.

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