Skip to Main Content

What Is Hydrostatic Pressure?: How to Protect Your Basement from Leaks

hydrostatic pressure illustration

Your home is under a lot of pressure, literally and figuratively. It’s responsible for being a safe haven for you and your family, but many forces act against your home and its foundation, including hydrostatic pressure.

Hydrostatic pressure is a sneaky, unnoticed source of damage attacking your home from below. You may not realize there’s a problem until much later when moisture and other damage become significant issues.

This article explains what hydrostatic pressure is, its effects, and how local basement waterproofing professionals can help you protect your home from it.

Hydrostatic Pressure Explained

Hydrostatic pressure is the force exerted by stationary water, including the groundwater surrounding your home’s foundation. This pressure, acting in both outward and downward directions, continually bears down on your basement walls, potentially leading to significant water damage and structural compromise.

This force often arises following heavy rainfall or snowmelt events and is prevalent in areas with high water tables where elevated groundwater levels exert added pressure on basement walls.

Additionally, the soil type surrounding your home plays a pivotal role in the extent of hydrostatic pressure. Expansive clay soils tend to retain more moisture compared to other soil types, increasing the pressure they exert on your basement walls.

Hydrostatic Pressure and Your Basement 

If your basement or foundation walls go down partially or fully beyond the water table or are on a surface where water moves downward, it will experience hydrostatic pressure. This pressure can cause the foundation walls to bow and crack. When this happens, water will start leaking into your basement. 

Water is the main culprit. With a density of almost 1,000 kilograms per cubic meter, water can exert tremendous pressure on obstacles in its way. The resulting pressure is directly proportional to subsurface depth, meaning the pressure increases downwards. The weight of the earth (soil) and water above the surface will determine its impact.  

Signs of Hydrostatic Pressure 

Hydrostatic pressure will always announce itself, though it can take several weeks or months to notice something is wrong. Telltale signs that hydrostatic pressure is building up and attacking your home include: 

cracking and bowing basement wall resulting from hydrostatic pressure

How to Control Hydrostatic Pressure 

If you notice any of the above problems, it’s important to take immediate action to prevent further damage. Ask local basement and foundation repair experts like Tar Heel Basement Systems to assess your home for damage. We’ll then recommend solutions customized to meet your unique repair needs, including:

Exterior Waterproofing 

Combining landscaping and proper exterior drainage can help arrest your basement leakage problem by directing water away from your basement and foundation. This includes an underground drainage system, regrading the ground so that it slopes downward and away from the basement, ensuring your gutters and downspouts are in working order, and extending downspouts at least 10 feet away from the home. 

Interior Waterproofing 

installing interior drainage and a sump pump in a basement

Even with proper grading and drainage, some subsurface water might still cause problems. A good example is underground water that fails to drain away. Such water can cause hydrostatic pressure to build up in your basement floor, leading to cracks. 

To correct this problem, Tar Heel crews install an interior drainage system just underneath your basement floor. The perforated half-pipe is covered with gravel before the floor is restored. Once in place, this device will collect any water that enters your basement and direct it to a sump pump system before it causes problems.  

Wall Reinforcement and Repair

IntelliBraceâ„¢ beams installed on a basement wall

Basement walls subjected to hydrostatic pressure often require reinforcement measures. Our team installs various wall repair solutions to address this issue, designed to provide support and fortification for your walls against external pressure forces. Wall anchors and I-beam systems have the potential to actively pull bowed walls back into their proper alignment, while carbon fiber straps effectively prevent further movement and cracking while occupying minimal space within your basement area.

Tar Heel Basement Systems Can Protect Your Home!

Don’t let a cracking, bowing wall, or basement leaks go unrepaired for too long. Time is of the essence when dealing with hydrostatic pressure. Contact Tar Heel Basement Systems to schedule a free inspection as soon as the signs of hydrostatic pressure become clear.

Our experts will investigate what’s going on in your home, and recommend any necessary waterproofing or other repairs to protect your basement from water. You can count on us for trusted, customized solutions guaranteed for lasting repair and protection.

Hydrostatic Pressure FAQs

The presence of moisture on your basement walls can indicate underlying structural issues within your home. Cracks in the basement walls and foundation are the most common culprits, but these can stem from various causes. Factors such as hydrostatic pressure, flaws in the poured concrete walls, settlement, and abnormally heavy rainfall can all contribute to this type of damage.

Yes, hydrostatic pressure can fluctuate with the changing seasons. It tends to increase during wetter periods, such as the spring thaw or rainy seasons, when the ground surrounding your home becomes more saturated with water.

We do not recommend attempting DIY basement waterproofing and foundation repair approaches. While tasks like sealing basement walls and cracks may seem like a quick fix, it is crucial to first identify and address the root cause of the problem. Consulting a professional is the best way to ensure proper identification, repair, and prevention of damage, rather than attempting a temporary DIY patch-up solution that may not address the underlying issue.

Related Resources

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

TarHeel Basement Systems Service Map

Our Locations

Fayetteville Location

3400 Walsh Pky, Suite 220
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Greensboro Location

611 Summit Ave, Suite 5
Greensboro, NC 27405

North Raleigh

208 Millbrook Rd. Suite C
Raleigh, NC 27609

Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill Location

3333 Air Park Road
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

Wilmington Location

2155 Enterprise Dr. NE
Leland, NC 28451

Winston-salem / High Point Location

2910 Griffith Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27103