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Solving Hydrostatic Pressure in Your Basement

Water-saturated soil will cause hydrostatic pressure on your basement walls, resulting in flooding of your lower-grade levels. Here’s how to solve it.

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The construction process of building a new home is a long and complex one. As such, builders will come across numerous problems and dilemmas that they’ll need to solve on the spot. In the off-chance that they overlook some factors, the homeowners might end up facing all sorts of troubles. One of the most common is hydrostatic pressure on your basement walls.

Due to this type of pressure, groundwater will seep through the lower-grade walls and cause critical damage. Unfortunately, this means you’ll need to spend your hard-earned money on costly repairs that might never solve your problem. That’s why it is imperative to pay close attention during the construction process.

In the following, we’ll inform you of some tips on how you can relieve hydrostatic pressure on your basement walls.

relieve hydrostatic pressure

What Is Hydrostatic Pressure?

Hydrostatic pressure is the force that water in the soil applies to a surface that is in contact with it. In this case, that surface is the basement wall of your home. It’s essential not to overlook this because the pressure is able to cause serious structural damage to a building, alongside flooding and high moisture levels.

This problem doesn’t come out of the blue. The reason behind it is the inability of the soil to properly drain itself from water. During rain, the water needs somewhere to go when it hits the ground. And since gravity pulls it downward, it ends up in the soil around your yard. As it slowly builds up, it begins to apply force on the ground, which in turn pushes against your foundation walls

This is a destructive force. It will cause cracks in concrete walls, making them bow, and in extreme scenarios, collapse. The weight of the water is around 60 pounds per cubic foot. Hence, at some point, you can count on thousands of pounds of water pushing up against your lower-grade level. This is why it’s important to relieve the hydrostatic pressure during the construction phase.

How to Relieve Hydrostatic Pressure During Construction?

Since water-saturated soil is dangerous to the stability and overall functionality of your home and basement, builders need to find a way to relieve it. This means that they need to manage and control it, rather than to simply put barriers on the walls of the basement. It is more effective and cheaper to do that than to waterproof the whole lower-grade structure. Here are some solutions that you can employ during the building process.

Soil Grading

Firstly, grading refers to the incline of the soil surrounding your home. This means that your building will either be on a higher or lower level than the rest of the yard. In case your home has negative grading (it’s on a lower level), this will cause the water in the soil to flood toward your basement when there’s heavy rain.

This is why it’s necessary to regrade your yard before any construction begins. The builders will first need to inspect the grading on your property. If the position of your home sits on a lower level than the rest of the ground, you’ll need to act. This will be an extensive job, but it will ensure you have no problems with hydrostatic pressure in the future.

Sheet Drainage Materials and Water-Based Epoxy Systems

Aside from grading, you can always relieve hydrostatic pressure by investing in sheet drainage materials. These materials will direct the water from saturated soil toward the foundation drain and lower the pressure on the basement walls. In addition to drainage materials, you can also use water-based epoxy systems to overcome hydrostatic pressure. Of course, it’s key to also do this during the construction process before you experience any water-related problems.

Installing Water Barriers

Another way to deal with hydrostatic pressure is to install water barriers during construction. These barriers will go between the walls and the water source. With proper installation, they will prevent water from seeping through permeable concrete. Water barriers will also stop the basement walls from absorbing moisture from a high water table or the poorly drained backfill.

Proper Guttering and Drainage Systems

In addition to any of the previous solutions, the builders will need to pay attention to the guttering system. With proper installation and further maintenance, you’ll be able to control the level of hydrostatic pressure in the soil surrounding your basement walls. This also means that the builders will need to properly install downspouts, so they can channel the water away from the structure.

On the other hand, a functional drainage system is also important. It collects the water from the soil before it can manage to build up and apply pressure to the foundation walls. With its shallow ditches, it will conduct the rainwater into the main drain. This will help water avoid pooling in your yard and settling in the ground, which further leads to high levels of hydrostatic pressure.

Prevention Is Always Better Than a Cure

As we’ve discussed, hydrostatic pressure is a destructive force. It can lead to serious structural damage and flooding. Therefore, it’s key to relieve it during construction before it gets too much for your foundation walls to take. Any of the previous solutions will help to some degree, but we’d argue that it’s best to combine them. Together, they’ll help you manage and control the sitting water pressure in the soil surrounding your lower-grade level.

In case you’re having problems with hydrostatic pressure during or after construction, you should contact professional help. Our team at JES Foundation Repair can come down to your home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and offer you a free inspection. Later on, they’ll discuss methods and techniques to keep your home safe for years to come.

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