What is Hydrostatic Pressure?

Friday, August 14th, 2015 by Thrasher


If you have water in your basement or bowing foundation walls you've probably heard the term "hydrostatic pressure."

hydrostatic pressure in your basement

Hopefully, your contractor explained this to you appropriately. But while you might have an idea of what hydrostatic pressure is, it's important to know why it matters - especially when you're contemplating waterproofing or foundation repair projects that can greatly affect the value of your home.

So, why does hydrostatic pressure matter? Well, at its most basic, hydrostatic pressure is just water pressure. In the case of waterproofing and foundation repair, it's water pressure pushing in and up against your foundation walls and concrete slab floors. Because concrete is porous - as are concrete blocks, bricks, clay blocks and cinder blocks - if the pressure from water outside your foundation elements is high enough water will begin to enter your home. If the pressure becomes great enough, it can bow or even collapse foundation walls.

Waterproofing solutions like sump pumps, below-floor drains and baseboard drains help to keep your basement dry when hydrostatic pressure increases. Instead of seeping water free flowing down your walls or over your flooring it's redirected into these drain systems and is then pumped up and out of your home by the sump pump.

Have you heard of hydrostatic pressure? See how it can impact the environment around your home and what it means for basement waterproofing.

If you have water in your basement or bowing foundation walls, you've probably heard the term "hydrostatic pressure." Hopefully, your contractor explained this to you appropriately. But while you might have an idea of what hydrostatic pressure is, it's essential to know why it matters - especially when you're contemplating waterproofing or foundation repair projects that can significantly affect the value of your home.

So, why does hydrostatic pressure matter?

Well, at its most basic, hydrostatic pressure is just water pressure. In the case of waterproofing and foundation repair, it's water pressure pushing in and up against your foundation walls and concrete slab floors. Because concrete is porous - as are concrete blocks, bricks, clay blocks and cinder blocks - if the pressure from water outside your foundation elements is high enough, water will begin to enter your home. If the pressure becomes significant enough, it can bow or even collapse foundation walls.

Waterproofing solutions like sump pumps, below-floor drains and baseboard drain help to keep your basement dry when hydrostatic pressure increases. Instead of seeping water free-flowing down your walls or over your flooring, it's redirected into these drain systems and is then pumped up and out of your home by the sump pump.

Foundation repair options like wall anchors or braces help combat the inward pressure that causes foundation walls to bow or buckle due to water-saturated soils. These systems use the strength of carbon fiber and steel or the rigidity of virgin soils to help prevent future wall movement, giving your home a reliable, stable foundation it had in the beginning.

Thrasher's foundation repair services utilize the latest technology and techniques that can help! In many cases, your home's foundation can be stabilized permanently so that you can restore your home's value along with your peace of mind.

Thrasher Foundation Repair has several foundation wall repair solutions to solve most any problem. They range from:

GeoLock(R) wall anchor systems consist of galvanized steel Earth anchors embedded into the soil out away from your foundation wall. They are connected to steel wall plates with galvanized steel rods. Once installed, wall anchors will hold walls in their current position.

CarbonArmor(R) and ArmorLock(R) systems use carbon fiber reinforced polymers - a type of carbon fiber that is ten times stronger in tension than steel and designed specifically for basement walls.

PowerBrace system is designed to permanently stabilize your home's foundation. It supports basement walls and allows for straightening over time. This is done with brackets that are anchored to the basement floor and floor joists.

If you suspect that you might be seeing the effects of foundation wall failure, it's time to call in an expert like Thrasher Foundation Repair. In 45 years of business, we've seen it all and fixed it all. We are the local experts for all your foundation repair needs in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. We offer warrantied solutions that permanently repair foundation issues. Contact us for a free, no-obligation foundation inspection today! By the time we're done, you'll know exactly what is causing your cracks, precisely what it will take to repair them permanently and exactly how much it will cost.

Hydrostatic pressure also varies by season. Rainy weather or a considerable spring thaw can significantly increase pressure, while drier seasons will see lesser amounts of pressure. Ultimately, there's no way to stop hydrostatic pressure from occurring, so homeowners must find a way to mitigate and redirect its effects.

Unfortunately, hydrostatic pressure is just one of the three main types of damage caused by wet foundation soils. And typically, one problem includes issues from the other two. The two other main issues to be concerned with if you have hydrostatic pressure affecting your foundation are:

Expansive, wet clay soil

While sandy soils remain stable as water passes through them, soils rich in clay undergo significant changes based on their moisture content. When clay type soils dry out, they shrink significantly. Sometimes, this shrinkage causes the ground to become covered with cracks, but after a heavy rain, the cracks are gone, and the soil is fully saturated with water.

Because clay soil absorbs so much water, it expands during wet weather. Expansive clay soils can put enormous pressure on your basement or foundation walls. When the pressure becomes more than the wall can handle, the wall will begin to push inward.

Frost Heaving

In areas with cold winter climates, frost heaving can sometimes put enough pressure on foundation walls to make them fail. When water turns to ice, its volume increases by about 9%. If wet soil experiences a deep freeze, the wedging or heaving force that results can be extremely powerful. Frost heaving can put thousands of pounds of force against your foundation walls, causing cracks, bowing, and heaving.

If you have questions about your foundation, hydrostatic pressure, or you're seeing water in your basement regularly, call us at 800.827.0702 to set up a free, no-obligation estimate. We're here to help!