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How to Relieve Hydrostatic Pressure Around Your Home

Hydrostatic pressure is a naturally occurring phenomenon around your home’s foundation, but it can significantly damage your home and endanger your family. Learn more about hydrostatic pressure and how to handle it.

standing water under your house

A basement has many uses – offices, gyms, fan caves, etc. – but it could be in danger if your home suffers from underlying problems like hydrostatic pressure

This phenomenon produced by external forces can severely damage your home, basement, and anything inside. 

Let’s explore hydrostatic pressure, what causes it, what it can do to your home, and how you can fix it. 

What Causes Hydrostatic Pressure

First, it’s important to understand what hydrostatic pressure is and what causes it. 

Hydrostatic pressure forms as the result of excessive water in the soil around your home. As the soil becomes wet, it expands and presses on your foundation, which you can see in this video. 

This force of water pressure on the walls is known as hydrostatic pressure. 

Let’s take a look at each component and related phenomena. 


Water plays a major role in hydrostatic pressure. It can come from precipitation, snowmelt, and rising bodies of water like nearby rivers. 

This powerful, heavy liquid needs somewhere to go, so it will begin to saturate the soil. 


There are thousands of soil types throughout the country, but they all have the same basic ingredients – silt, clay, and sand. Each of these components also has its own unique drainage properties. 

Naturally expansive clay-based soils are common, and they are the most problematic for foundations, further aiding in hydrostatic pressure. 

When clay soil is wet, it swells, and then it shrinks with the lack of moisture. These continuous cycles take their toll on foundation walls, which can only handle so much pressure. 

The Clay Bowl Effect

There’s also a similar phenomenon that contributes to this dangerous force – the clay bowl effect

A sizable hole had to be excavated when your home was built. Once the foundation walls were built, there was still a space between them and the surrounding ground. 

The previously removed dirt was restored, or “backfilled” around the walls. Compared to undisturbed soil farther from the home, this soil is fluffier and not as tightly packed. 

This results in the creation of a “clay bowl” when water gathers in the soil immediately surrounding your home. 

How Hydrostatic Pressure Impacts Your Home

All the ingredients mentioned above lead to significant negative effects on your home. Here are the problems that can arise because of hydrostatic pressure: 

Bowing concrete wall in basement

Cracking and Bowing Walls

As hydrostatic pressure pushes against walls, the walls can begin to crack. This is usually seen in the horizontal mortar joints of block foundation walls. 

Along with wall cracks, walls facing so much hydrostatic pressure can start to move or bow inward. This also happens horizontally along mortar joints, usually in the middle of the wall. 

You can see both cracking and bowing in action in this video

Leaking Water

Water from the saturated soil can also leak inside through the cracks and gaps created, as well as through the concrete itself because it is a porous material. 

This could look like efflorescence, water stains, small trickles or puddles of water, or flooding. 

Additional effects of moisture intrusion include elevated humidity and mold growth. 

Wall Collapse

If a cracking, bowing wall is in bad enough shape, it could collapse completely. 

This is a worst-case scenario, which is also depicted in the above video, but it further illustrates the need for inspection and repair immediately. 

Relieving the Effects of Hydrostatic Pressure

Depending on how your home has been impacted by hydrostatic pressure, it may need a variety of repairs. 

Here are things you can do to combat hydrostatic pressure and ensure your home’s safety: 

Contact Us If You Notice Signs of Hydrostatic Pressure! 

As you can see, hydrostatic pressure is a massive force that can wreak havoc on your home. Before the damage becomes too severe and dangerous for your family, it needs to be addressed in a way that makes sense for your home. 

Each home’s foundation is unique, and it deserves repairs tailored to its specific needs. Your local Groundworks company not only provides a variety of repair options, but outstanding customer care trusted around the country. 

As soon as you notice problems like cracking, bowing, and leaking walls, contact our team right away to schedule a free inspection and repair estimate. Everyone deserves to live in a secure home, and we look forward to helping create a safer living environment for you and your family. 

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