What Is Hydrostatic Pressure?

First off, it’s a good idea to clear up what hydrostatic pressure is. It’s a term you’ve probably heard before — it’s not exclusive to the world of home repair, and it’s useful to describe a lot of processes and pressures that exist in our world today.

If you’ve ever been interested in the actual definition of hydrostatic pressure, look no further than this important information.

  • The Weight of Water

The actual definition of hydrostatic pressure is “the force exerted by water when it’s at rest.” It’s evident in the name: “hydro,” meaning water; “static,” meaning non-moving; and “pressure,” meaning physical force.

This pressure gets its strength from the weight of water. Water weighs, on average, just over eight pounds per gallon. A cubic foot contains around 7.5 gallons. That means a single cubic foot of water can exert over 60 pounds of pressure.

When you multiply this over and over again, you can start to see why hydrostatic pressure is so intense. Hydrostatic pressure is an important part of many functions, and it also has significant pressure on your home.

  • Natural Water in the Ground

This is the most common way you’ll hear about hydrostatic pressure. The ground naturally contains water; if you’ve heard of the “water table,” you’ll know that there’s a level of water in the soil, even if it looks dry to the naked eye.

Your home is built at least partially underground. This partial amount may vary depending on whether you have a basement or crawl space. That means at least some of your home is always fighting against the pressure exerted by the water table.

The water table can change based on a variety of different factors. However, it’s extremely rare to be in a place where the water table will be lower than the entire home. That’s why hydrostatic pressure is always a concern. 

  • Added Water Above Ground

Groundwater isn’t the only water that exerts hydrostatic pressure. Water above ground exerts that same pressure as well. Above-ground water can be rain, plumbing leaks, flooding or any other type of water that isn’t part of the water table.

It’s important to note that this is one of the reasons flooding of any type can be so dangerous. Your floor might not be prepared to suddenly hold hundreds or thousands of pounds of water on top of it. That can make the floor start to crack under the strain.

This added water above ground can have a very real impact on your home. Although you shouldn’t always have a concern regarding above-ground hydrostatic pressure, you need to take it seriously when it happens.

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