Hydrostatic Pressure and Your Basement
You’ve got a solid sump pump connected to an effective drainage network. The water is drained away and your basement is pretty dry year-round. You even have a dehumidifier. That should be enough to protect your basement from water damage, right? Well, not quite.
It isn’t just water collecting in the basement that homeowners need to worry about. It’s the impact that water has on the soil bordering the basement. The more water this soil holds, the more pressure it can apply to your foundation and basement walls. It may surprise you to learn that this pressure is usually enough to cause cracks to form in these structures.
Hydrostatic pressure is responsible for many issues with water in basements, although it isn’t the only one. The cracks formed are also a gateway for water, which the soil pushes through to your home’s interior. Over time, these cracks grow wider and more pronounced, allowing even more water to pour inside. More than that, without repair work, conducted hydrostatic pressure can compromise the structural integrity of your home.
Protecting your home from hydrostatic pressure is crucial for anyone in our warm, damp climate. If you’ve found leaking fractures or cracks in your basement, get in touch with our experts today for a free inspection. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
The Clay Bowl Effect
The reason hydrostatic pressure is such a hassle to deal with is because of the clay bowl effect. This is a result of construction. One of the very first steps a construction company will take is to excavate the earth where the foundation will lay. This hole will be slightly larger than the foundation itself. After construction is complete, the backfill will be packed in around the basement walls.
Backfill is naturally looser than the undisturbed soil, which forms the clay bowl around the basement. During rainfall, which our area sees a fair bit of, water naturally collects in the looser soil. The clay bowl acts somewhat like a catchment and contains this water, pushing it against the basement walls. This is the clay bowl effect and hydrostatic pressure in action.
The clay bowl effect is a natural side effect of construction. Any home with a basement or partially submerged level will have to deal with hydrostatic pressure.
Can Hydrostatic Pressure Irreversibly Damage My Home?
In severe cases, hydrostatic pressure can damage homes to the point where drastic and costly repair work is needed. Those cracks that this pressure causes will be forced wider until water can seep through, which will cause further damage.
Aside from the other issues that water in your basement creates, hydrostatic pressure will continue to weaken your basement walls. Left alone, this will eventually lead to structural integrity damage. It will take time for the damage to grow to this point. Still, acting before the damage reaches this point is better for the health of the home. The repair work won’t be as costly either.
Horizontal cracks are the most worrisome faults and need immediate resolutions. There is good news—most minor and medium-sized cracks can be filled and repaired.
It doesn’t matter what material your basement walls are made from; all will bow to the force of hydrostatic pressure without preventative measures put into place. With enough time and pressure, the basement will eventually implode.
What Else Contributes to Hydrostatic Pressure?
It isn’t just rainfall that can cause hydrostatic pressure to form. Soil in your area may be naturally moist. It’s usually only when loose soil is heavy with excess water that hydrostatic pressure can generate enough force to do damage. What can cause this moisture surplus is as follows.
- Short Drain Discharge Lines
If your drain network’s discharge line is too short, it can do more harm than good. Many discharge lines pour water within a few feet of the foundation. This is a problem, as the soil soaks up the water and pushes it against your basement walls. Should any of this water come from your basement sump pump system, you will be effectively creating a repeating cycle.
Rainfall or no, flooding is quickly going to contribute to hydrostatic pressure. The clay bowl effect will essentially cause all of this water to drain toward and around your home. Flooding triggers several problems with basements that aren’t waterproofed. Hydrostatic pressure is just one of them.
Any home that sees flooding frequently will benefit from basement waterproofing.
- Standing Water
No matter where it has come from, standing water near your foundation is a problem. Leaking pipes, blocked gutters and any other sources of water puddling need to be resolved. The excess water will contribute to any hydrostatic pressure your basement walls are dealing with.
Is Hydrostatic Pressure Dangerous?
Hydrostatic pressure is usually only dangerous if you put off dealing with it. With the right preventive measures, the impact this phenomenon has can be mitigated and managed. It is always best to take preventative measures or act as soon as you find a fault.
We recommend twice-yearly inspections of your basement walls and floor for any cracks. Once you find a crack beginning to form, increase the inspection frequency, or book a free inspection by one of our basement waterproofing experts. Catching the cracks early on is great, as it means you can have the wall repaired.
Not doing frequent inspections can have serious results.
- Basement Leaking
Unchecked hydrostatic pressure will eventually lead to basement leaking and its associated problems. As the foundation cracks, water gets pushed inside and pools in the basement. Aside from being a slip hazard, this water isn’t overly dangerous.
However, as water collects in the basement, this space gets turned into a humid chamber. Not only will this cause your energy bills to rise as you combat the unusual heat, but it will also expose your family to a host of problems. Namely, mold.
Mold thrives in dark, damp spaces like basements with water problems. As these organisms grow, they release spores into the air, which can cause health problems for asthmatics and those with allergies.
- Shifting Foundation
In worst-case scenarios and given enough time, hydrostatic pressure can tilt, crack, and bow your foundation. We stress that this is a rare occurrence. But it also highlights the value of investing in proper methods of protecting your home from hydrostatic pressure. Basement waterproofing does more than drain water away—it keeps your home safe and secure.
Hydrostatic pressure can also come from soil shifting as it dries and swells. Soil will shrink as it loses moisture and swell again when it rains or floods. This constant movement in the soil causes surrounding objects to shift as well.
- Protecting Your Home From Hydrostatic Pressure
Hydrostatic pressure can never be fixed. It’s not possible. All you can do is mitigate its effects. Thankfully, effective management of moisture inside and around your home will go a long way toward achieving this.
Some of the measures you can take include:
- Installing an effective sump pump system, such as our SafeDri™ Sump Pumps.
- Ensuring that your drain and gutter system are anti-clog
- Extending your drainage discharge line so that water is expelled away from your foundation.
Knowing that your home can withstand hydrostatic pressure brings homeowners comfort and security. To learn more about how we can protect your home from hydrostatic pressure, get in touch today.
Protect Your Home From Hydrostatic Pressure With Groundworks
Protecting your home from hydrostatic pressure with basement waterproofing is the smart choice. Groundworks provides long-term, durable, and effective solutions for combating hydrostatic pressure. The majority of our products can work in conjunction with your existing waterproofing.
Each home is unique. To learn what your home needs to withstand hydrostatic pressure, schedule a free inspection and quote with one of our experts today.