What Is Hydrostatic Pressure?

Foundation and waterproofing problems result from a host of causes. The vast majority of them are environmental and can be tied to pressure that builds along the outside walls of concrete block, brick, or cement foundations.

Hydrostatic pressure is one of these causes; most homeowners have questions about how this kind of foundation pressure develops and what can be done to prevent it.

In this article, the foundation repair and waterproofing specialists at Helitech are explaining what hydrostatic pressure is and why it’s such a common cause for so many foundation problems in our region.

Hydrostatic Pressure, Defined

First, let’s break down the term ‘hydrostatic’.

‘Hydro’ means water, and ‘static’ means stationary or unmoving. So, hydrostatic pressure is the force that is exerted by standing water. It’s that simple!

Any time water accumulates in any container—whether that container is a 50-gallon drum or the drainage areas alongside your foundation’s exterior—gravity is constantly acting on the water. The more water there is, the more significant the hydrostatic pressure can be. With enough hydrostatic pressure, even the most well-built foundations will crack and fail.

Water accumulation can come from heavy rainfall, snowmelt, or a rise in the subsurface water table. Wherever it comes from, if its pressure is too much for the walls of your foundation to withstand, you will start to see cracks, splits, and bowing along the inside of your basement or crawl space.

When hydrostatic pressure is the culprit for foundation issues, one of the most common symptoms is ingress of water into the interior of the foundation. This can create secondary issues like mildew, mold, wood rot, and pest infestations.

Best Practices for Controlling Hydrostatic Pressure

Hydrostatic pressure can never be eliminated; it can only be managed. In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Drainage and Water Flow

For homeowners looking to defend their foundation from excessive hydrostatic pressure, the best place to start is on the roof. Ensure gutters and downspouts are draining rainwater at least feet away from the exterior walls of the home.

Another effective measure to take is grading the surrounding landscaping so that water naturally flows away from the home. This is typically handled by an experienced landscaper.

Interior drains can also be used to relieve basement walls from mounting hydrostatic pressure. These drains are typically installed into the basement subfloor and allow water to drain out at a sloping angle, helping to reduce the risk of flooding.

floor drain in basement

Foundation Repair

At the first sign of hydrostatic pressure damage, it’s a good idea to have a Helitech foundation expert visit your home to appraise the situation and evaluate the foundation for repairs, if they are needed.

Taking action sooner than later can save homeowners thousands of dollars, and in many cases, affected foundation walls can be effectively sealed and stabilized to offer even better integrity than they had when they were initially built.

When it comes to foundation repair, the rule of thumb is to arrange for repairs as soon as possible, as even small cracks can become serious problems relatively quickly.

Professional Waterproofing

Another method of addressing hydrostatic pressure is to develop a waterproofing strategy for your home. These strategies vary from installing vapor barriers to integrating sump pump systems that work around-the-clock to eject excess water.

For most homes, a combination of proper interior and exterior drainage, expert foundation repair, and professional waterproofing are sufficient to defend the foundation from the destructive effects of hydrostatic pressure.

If left alone, hydrostatic pressure damage will almost certainly get worse. As the seasons change and environmental variables fluctuate, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that any foundation damage related to hydrostatic pressure will only worsen unless the situation is resolved by a professional.

Have Questions about Foundation Repair or Waterproofing? Ask Helitech!

For over fifty years, Helitch has been meeting the foundation repair and waterproofing needs of homeowners throughout the Illinois, Missouri, Quad Cities, and Western Kentucky areas.

We specialize in diagnosing foundation issues caused by hydrostatic pressure, from simple to complex. If your problem is minor, chances are we can perform a quick fix and restore your peace of mind in a matter of hours. More complicated repairs can be planned and executed in coordination with your schedule.

The first step is to arrange for an on-site visit with a Helitech foundation repair and waterproofing specialist. To get started, call us at 800-246-9721. We look forward to working with you and solving your foundation problem once and for all!