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My question is basically that recently we have had a lot of snow, some of it is high enough to be over the damp-proof course (DPC). Should I be worried about this, or would damp penetration take longer than the snow takes to clear?

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In general, piling snow against the foundation is not a good idea. As it melts, water can find its way down along the foundation wall causing all sorts of potential problems. Move the snow as far away from the house as practicable. –  Tester101 Jan 21 '13 at 17:50
    
Piled snow is a problem when it melts and soaks into the ground as Tester101 indicates. It's much less a problem to the wall above the damp proofing because a small air gap usually forms between the wall and the snow, so meltwater flows straight down instead of soaking into the wall. However, unusual climatic conditions could prevent the gap from forming, allowing the wall to become wetted. –  bcworkz Jan 21 '13 at 22:57
    
Why would melting snow get into foundations more than rainwater - is it just because there's more of it in a shorter period of time? –  pm_2 Jan 22 '13 at 11:06
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Here in Alberta this turns out to be a non-problem. What tends to happen is that the snow slides off the roof, stacks against the house. Within a day or so, heat from house melts a finger sized crevasse and the snow is no longer touching the house.

Assuming that there is reasonable siding on the house this is a non-worry item IMHO.

If however, the ground is impervious to water penetration, and you start getting a pool of water at the base of this crack, then watch that carefully that it doesn't get above the foundation course. If this happens, you need to create drainage to take care of it. I've not seen this happen in our climate.

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