Skip to Main Content

How hydrostatic pressure works and how to relieve it to prevent leaks

Hydrostatic pressure can cause basement walls to leak. Homeowners can prevent this problem with timely inspections and a proper draining system.

Get a free inspection

Water leaking inside a basement is a problem that no homeowner likes to face and it becomes even worse when there’s no apparent source of the leak. Before any repairs can be done, you need to figure out where the water is coming from.

This is often due to a phenomenon called hydrostatic pressure. This causes water to leak into the home from hairline cracks, which makes it difficult to find the source of the problem.

basement waterproofing

What Is Hydrostatic Pressure?

Simply put hydrostatic pressure refers to the force created by water that’s resting on a surface. Resting and standing waters apply pressure to the surface over a long time which end up affecting the overall structure. This happens when it rains or snows a lot and the ground around a property absorbs the water.

How Does Hydrostatic Pressure Affect a Home?

After a while, the pressure will build up under the basement and the floors of a home, and the gravity will push it up. The moisture itself will create more cracks, leading to the problems becoming more severe over time. The effect also depends on the type of soil on which the home is built. For instance, clay will absorb more water than sand. The more water the soil absorbs the stronger the hydrostatic pressure will be.

The leaking is just the first of potential problems caused by hydrostatic pressure. Over time the cracks and the moisture in them can cause the foundation walls to bow as well. This is a much more expensive and complex repair to undertake.

Not all cracks are a symptom of a damaged foundation. Sometimes hairline cracks can be caused by the change in temperature and it’s best if they are inspected by a professional who can tell the difference between a crack and a common one. 

What to Do

Ultimately, what you’re aiming for is to drain the soil and prevent water from building up beneath and around your home’s foundation in the first place.

Exterior Solutions

Basement waterproofing should start on the exterior of the home since that’s a way of preventing the leaking and the damage it causes to the basement walls. This is easier to do when the owner is constructing the home from the ground up, but there are ways to improve the conditions of an existing home as well.

Garden beds and landscape areas should pitch water 15 feet away from the foundation. It’s also important not to add soil within two inches of the sill plate of the foundation. If there’s a downhill slope and the water flows towards the foundation, it’s useful to install a sub-surface drainage system. 

Gutter downspouts should also point water 15 feet or more away from the foundation walls.

An exterior drainage system is also an option. It consists of a perforated drainage pipe installed at the base of your foundation. This pipe is covered with gravel and then backfill. It’s best to install this system when constructing your home in the first place. Although it is possible to install an exterior drainage system once a home has already been built, it will be much more expensive and messier. 

Interior Solutions 

A cheaper and easier alternative to the exterior drainage system is the interior one. This drainage system consists of weep holes, drainage tiles, and a sump pump.

All the parts need to be installed and maintained for the system to function properly and thus prevent hydrostatic pressure from affecting your foundation.

Hydrostatic pressure can cause considerable damage to foundation walls and it can cause leaks that can easily flood basements and damage property. Homebuyers should inspect the basement for leaks before deciding on a property and any homeowner should periodically check their below-grade areas to avoid leaks. 

If you think setting up a drainage system would benefit your home, give us a call. We can schedule a free inspection in your Columbus, OH home right away.

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Serving Greater Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Northern Kentucky

Cincinnati Office

1270 Hillsmith Dr.
Cincinnati, OH 45215

Columbus Office
2421 McGaw Rd.
Obetz, OH 43207