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What is Hydrostatic Pressure?: 4 Tips To Stop It

Hydrostatic pressure is a common cause of basement water infiltration, leading to significant damage when left unaddressed. This pressure forces groundwater through masonry cracks and gaps, quickly finding pathways into the basement. This page explores the causes of hydrostatic pressure and ways to prevent it from damaging your basement.


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What is Hydrostatic Pressure?

Hydrostatic pressure is the force exerted by standing or resting water. It is the constant pressure that water exerts on basement walls. Hydrostatic pressure is commonly the result of water saturating the soil around your home’s foundation.

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What Causes Hydrostatic Pressure?

bowing basement wall

Hydrostatic pressure occurs when water accumulates around the perimeter of a home, typically after a rainstorm or during snowmelt. This pressure is especially prevalent in areas with a high water table, where it pushes against foundation walls, causing dampness.

The soil type surrounding your home also affects hydrostatic pressure. For instance, clay soil absorbs more water than other soils. The more water it absorbs, the more pressure it exerts on your basement walls.

Learn more about how hydrostatic pressure affects your foundation here.

How Does Hydrostatic Pressure Affect Your Foundation?

As the soil around your foundation becomes saturated with moisture, it expands and exerts pressure on the foundation walls. This pressure forces groundwater through the basement cove, flooding the area.

Hydrostatic pressure may also cause additional cracks to form and, in severe cases, bowing basement walls. Addressing water infiltration with professional foundation repair solutions is crucial to preventing damage.

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4 Ways to Prevent Hydrostatic Pressure

Ideal hydrostatic pressure prevention begins during the home construction phase by incorporating it into the site and foundation design. However, most homeowners are beyond the initial home-building stage and should implement the following measures to prevent hydrostatic pressure:

damaged gutter on home

1. Improve Drainage

Excessive water and poor drainage systems lead to significant problems. To prevent water from pooling and causing damage, find ways to direct it away from your property. A professionally installed and maintained drainage system is an effective solution, as it removes water before it accumulates and creates hydrostatic pressure. You can achieve this by:

  • Draining gutters and downspouts away from your foundation. This ensures rainwater doesn’t pool near your house, where it can seep into the foundation.
  • Ensuring the ground slopes away from your house in all directions, including your yard. Proper yard grading allows water to flow naturally away from the foundation, reducing the risk of water pooling and hydrostatic pressure.
Installing interior drainage system in basement

2. Install Interior Drainage System

A well-designed drainage system is crucial for preventing hydrostatic pressure. However, you may still encounter subsurface water issues and soil saturation if the water fails to drain properly. Water levels fluctuate seasonally with changes in rainfall, leading to hydrostatic pressure. Installing professional interior drainage systems is the most effective solution to this problem.

Interior drainage systems collect and remove water that seeps into your basement, preventing moisture damage. For optimal effectiveness, install the system below the slab’s lowest point and ensure the drains slope downward and away from your home to facilitate proper water flow.

concrete slab crack

3. Seal Cracks

Inspect your basement walls and floor for cracks, and contact your local foundation specialist to seal them. This repair prevents crack expansion and basement water infiltration. Foundation repair may be necessary.

three professionals installing basement waterproofing

4. Invest in Professional Waterproofing

Basement waterproofing is essential for preventing hydrostatic pressure.

A key component of effective waterproofing is interior drainage and sump pump installation. This combined method removes groundwater accumulation. The drainage system intercepts water before it causes damage, channeling it to the sump pump, which then expels the water out and away from the foundation.

This approach protects against water damage and flood risks and preserves the structural integrity of your home, ensuring a dry and secure living environment.

Schedule a free inspection today with a local Groundworks foundation repair expert.

Basement Waterproofing FAQs

If your basement walls are wet, it can be a sign that there are deeper problems at play in your home. Cracks in your basement walls and foundation are the most likely source of wetness in your walls and floor, but these can be caused by a variety of issues. Hydrostatic pressure, faults in poured concrete walls, settlement, and abnormally heavy rainfall can all cause this kind of damage.

DIY basement waterproofing is not recommended. While sealing basement walls may seem like a quick fix, it is crucial to address mold and mildew issues first. Contact a professional to identify, repair, and prevent leaks rather than attempting a DIY patch-up.

Basement waterproofing is definitely worth it. It enhances your home’s value and appeals to potential buyers, offering immediate and long-term benefits for your property.

Contact a Basement Waterproofing Expert In Your Area.

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