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How to Relieve Hydrostatic Pressure Around Your Basement

The basement is important in a home for its wide range of functions. However, the functionality of your basement could be at risk if your home suffers from hydrostatic pressure.  

In this page, we will explore what causes hydrostatic pressure, how it can affect your basement, and what you can do to fix it. 

What Causes Hydrostatic Pressure?

an illustration of hydrostatic pressure

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. This force of water is known as hydrostatic pressure. 

There are three main factors that contribute to hydrostatic pressure: 

1. Water

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

If water doesn’t have an outlet, it will saturate the soil, causing it to expand and push against your foundation. 

2. Soil

While every part of the U.S. has a different kind of soil, it all contains 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. 

3. The Clay Bowl Effect

The clay bowl effect causes a similar phenomenon. 

When your home was built, a sizable hole had to be excavated. 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. 

Now that we understand what causes hydrostatic pressure, it’s important to know how to identify if your basement is suffering from it. 


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Cracked foundation

Signs of Hydrostatic Pressure

Hydrostatic pressure on your home manifests itself in several ways, including: 

1. 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

water in basement cove leaking through basement walls

2. Water in Your Basement

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. 

basement wall failure

3. Wall Collapse

In the worst case, a cracking, bowing wall could collapse completely from the pressure. 

Hydrostatic pressure can prove detrimental to your home’s functionality and stability.  

If you notice any of the previous problem signs, it’s best to reach out to professionals like Groundworks right away for a free inspection. 

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How to Relieve the Effects of Hydrostatic Pressure 

Groundworks technician applying basement drainage solutions

At Groundworks, we offer free inspections where we will help you identify the necessary foundation repair solutions to relieve your hydrostatic pressure.

Depending on the extent of damage, these are some solutions we recommend:  

Contact Groundworks If You Notice Signs of Hydrostatic Pressure! 

Dealing with hydrostatic pressure can be overwhelming for homeowners. That’s why Groundworks is here to guide you in the process of relieving the effects of hydrostatic pressure, providing top-tier foundation repair solutions you can trust.  

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. 

Reach out to schedule a free inspection today. Our professionals will recommend solutions that will safeguard your home for the long haul.  

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.