Hydrostatic pressure is an important element of foundation strength and stability. If you want to have a stable and strong foundation, you need to make sure you’re avoiding problems with hydrostatic pressure throughout your foundation. If you’re thinking about making your foundation more structurally sound and better at maintaining its strength, you need to also be thinking about hydrostatic pressure. Here’s what you need to know about hydrostatic pressure.
What Is Hydrostatic Pressure?
First and foremost, it’s important to know what hydrostatic pressure is in the first place. There are a few elements that combine to create hydrostatic pressure. When you have all of these, you’re going to have hydrostatic pressure issues.
- The Weight of Water
The biggest contributor to hydrostatic pressure is the sheer weight of water. Water has a significant amount of weight, weighing more than 62 pounds per cubic foot. If you have a lot of water around your home, you’re going to have that weight pressing into the foundation, which can be extremely challenging to the integrity of your property.
With the weight of water pressing in on your basement or crawl space, you must maintain the structural stability of the walls it’s pressing in on. Although most basements or crawl spaces have the strength necessary to maintain those elements, it’s true that not all of them have that strength, which can lead to hydrostatic pressure concerns.
- The Incompressible Nature of Water
You can’t compress water into anything smaller than what it already is. Think about it: If you have a water bottle and try to crush it, the water has to go somewhere. It can’t become smaller than it already is. Water is incompressible, which means it always has to have a place to go, regardless of where that place is.
How does this have anything to do with hydrostatic pressure? Quite simply, it’s the fact that water needs somewhere to go. When water falls onto the soil outside your home, for example, it has to have somewhere to go. Most commonly, part of it runs off, but some of it stays near the foundation, building plenty of heft and creating significant hydrostatic pressure problems.
- The Saturation of the Soil
One thing that’s important to note is that the soil around your home will always have a saturation point; that is, a point at which no more water can come into the soil. This saturation point may vary dramatically between different types of soils and different locations, but one thing is for sure—every type of soil has a saturation point.
If you want to retain the health of both your soil and your foundation, you should certainly pay attention to this saturation point. Ideally, you never want to meet the saturation point because water is much heavier than soil. The less water you have in your soil, the less weight you’ll have to deal with throughout your home’s structure.
How Does Hydrostatic Pressure Impact Your Home and Foundation?
There are many impacts that hydrostatic pressure may have on your home, your foundation, and everything surrounding it. These are just a few:
- Cracks in Walls and Floors
The more hydrostatic pressure your home deals with, the more likely it is that you’re going to end up with cracks in your walls and floors. That’s because the cracks tend to happen more and more when there’s more pressure against the walls and the floor, which can create too much pressure, requiring your walls and floors to move.
Remember the incompressible nature of water? This is where nature comes into full force. When there’s a lot of water around the walls and floors of your basement or crawl space, that water needs somewhere to go. Moving through the soil can be difficult for water, which means if there are any weaknesses in the wall, it’s going to try and go through that instead.
- Pooling Water Above Concrete
Because hydrostatic pressure includes water, it’s often going to end up causing serious water problems if it does cause cracks and breaks in the concrete. Concrete by itself, with no cracks, is waterproof. Water can’t come through an unbroken slab of concrete. However, as soon as there’s a crack in the concrete, it’s going to allow water to come through that slab.
This means as soon as you have a crack from the hydrostatic pressure, water is going to want to come inside. Especially if you have cracks in the floor, it’s common for the pressure to be so extreme that it will cause water to pool up above that crack. You could end up with standing water in your basement or crawl space that’s specifically because of the hydrostatic pressure underneath a concrete crack.
- High Levels of Humidity in the Basement, Crawl Space, and Home
Whether or not you end up with standing water above these concrete cracks, it’s important to know you can end up with seriously high levels of humidity wherever the concrete cracks have manifested. These high levels of humidity can be very frustrating for anyone who’s managing the basement, crawl space, or home as a whole.
Remember, high indoor humidity tends to be a problem that doesn’t just stay in the basement or crawl space. When you have a basement or crawl space, it’s typically going to share as much as 50% of its air with the rest of the home. That includes humidity, pest problems, mold spores, and more. When you have high humidity in your basement or crawl space because of water coming up from the floor, you’ll also have high humidity elsewhere in the home.
Hydrostatic pressure impacts your home in many ways. It’s important to make sure you’re doing your best when it comes to avoiding that impact as much as possible. Hydrostatic pressure can be extremely severe, which means it can have all of the following impacts.
- Water Damage
A big problem which properties with extreme hydrostatic pressure can face is water damage. Because hydrostatic pressure inherently includes water, it makes sense that you would have concerns with water damage over time. Hydrostatic pressure can introduce water into your basement or crawl space, leading to water damage concerns.
Increased levels of humidity and dampness, for example, are common where hydrostatic pressure causes damage to a home. High levels of relative humidity in a home, for example, can lead to mold and mildew formation, wood rot, and fluctuating temperatures in your property. These issues range from inconvenient to actively dangerous.
- Foundation Concerns
The foundational stability of your home is one of the things that can be extremely troubling when it comes to hydrostatic pressure. If you’re interested in avoiding long-term problems that tend to arise with hydrostatic pressure, you want to pay extra-close attention to any places where it impacts the foundation. Settlement and subsidence are common issues in homes that have to deal with saturated soil.
Overall structural integrity is also an important part of your home’s stability when dealing with high levels of hydrostatic pressure. Structural integrity tends to be something that hydrostatic pressure has a serious impact on. It’s especially bad if you have a basement, as the basement walls tend to have issues with leaning, bowing, or cracking.
Some homeowners may assume that hydrostatic pressure is simply inevitable. They might assume it’s impossible to avoid. Although there is some truth to the fact that you’re likely to have hydrostatic pressure problems, you can still alleviate them for the most part.
- Truly Inevitable Pressure
There is an element of inevitable hydrostatic pressure that you’ll experience in your home. This is especially true if you have a basement, as the basement walls reach down far enough that it’s almost certain you’ll have water pressing on the walls. There’s no way to avoid that pressure entirely because water is a natural part of the soil.
However, it is important to remember that properties are designed to cope with this. This is especially the case if your property has a basement; the pressure of the soil, as well as the water it holds, will have been accounted for during design and construction. As such, all you have to do to protect your home in most cases is invest in drainage systems.
- Pressure You Can Avoid
Of course, there is also a path to avoiding some of this hydrostatic pressure; extreme soil saturation causes a spike in hydrostatic pressure and is avoidable. If you’re able to take a few steps toward reducing hydrostatic pressure, you’ll be able to avoid many of the problems that homeowners tend to think of as being “inevitable,” including problems like bowing basement walls.
Robust gutters and downspouts, for example, are a good way to manage soil saturation directly around your property’s perimeter. Likewise, proper yard grading will direct water away from the looser backfill soil which is directly adjacent to your property. Finally, if you plant the right mix of flora, the complex root systems will help to stabilize moisture levels in the soil around your home.
There are many ways you can alleviate hydrostatic pressure on your home. Don’t assume that just because you’re having problems with hydrostatic pressure, you won’t be able to handle those issues. These are a few of the ways that you might be able to alleviate the hydrostatic pressure issues you’re experiencing.
- Remove Water Around Your Home
If you want to alleviate hydrostatic pressure, you need to manage water levels. One of the things that can significantly increase hydrostatic pressure is if you have water constantly collecting around your home. For example, if you have downspouts that pour out around the foundation of your home, you may want to change them to pour out further away from the home.
Likewise, you should ensure that your basement or crawl space drainage systems are diverting water into exterior systems rather than just dumping water outside of your property. Ideally, your drainage systems should be diverting water outwards the more robust street drainage systems which will prevent water from building up in the soil.
- Add Structural Supports to the Basement or Crawl Space
If you have a basement or crawl space that is experiencing hydrostatic pressure issues around the walls, which can result in bowing walls, you may need to add structural supports. This can take the form of supports that go along the outside or supports that go along the inside walls, but it can help the walls stand against the pressure.
Wall anchors and beams are the most common, heavy-duty support and straightening measures for properties that have bowing or leaning walls. Of course, they are not the only options available. Carbon fiber reinforcement is a non-invasive, low-cost support measure for walls that are showing minor signs of damage.
The process of fixing hydrostatic pressure in your home is something that can be relatively straightforward, but it can also be complicated. That’s why it’s a good idea to get an expert’s fix your hydrostatic pressure problems rather than just assuming that you can do it on your own.
- DIY Fixes
You might think that you can save money by fixing your hydrostatic pressure problem yourself. However, because hydrostatic pressure typically impacts your home’s foundation first and foremost, you’re going to be messing with one of the most important parts of your home. Foundation repairs are not something that anyone should attempt a DIY repair on as they could end very badly.
For example, if you try to implement a DIY fix to your foundation or damaged walls, you could injure yourself in the process of excavation, either as a result of damaging an already unstable wall or because of an accident with the heavy excavation machinery. Alternatively, you could make the problem worse by implementing an incorrect solution.
- Expert Fixes
Rather than trying to do things yourself and potentially causing serious damage to your home’s foundation (or your health), you can just entrust your basement and crawl space work to Foundation Recovery Systems. You can ensure that you’re getting a complete fix for your hydrostatic pressure concerns this way.
Furthermore, you can expect a certain standard of work from professionals that just isn’t common in DIY fixes. Professional solutions to excessive hydrostatic pressure are more likely to be permanent, high-quality, and effective in battling the symptoms and issues caused by excessive hydrostatic pressure. So, as you can see, it is far better to let an expert handle this issue.
What Can I Do to Fix Hydrostatic Pressure Problems?
Fixing hydrostatic pressure is an important part of ensuring that your basement or crawl space stays as well maintained as possible. Although you may not be able to fix the pressure itself, you can certainly manage the problems this pressure is causing. Here are a few of the ways that Foundation Recovery Systems helps homeowners safeguard their foundations from hydrostatic pressure.
- Wall Anchors
This is easily one of the most effective methods of fixing the problems that arise from hydrostatic pressure in your basement. Specifically, if you have problems with bowing basement walls, you may want to look into wall anchors. These wall anchors are a super useful tool that you may be able to use to great effect in a basement with bowing walls.
These anchors consist of a plate of metal, a long metal rod, and an earth anchor. A hole is dug around 10 feet away from the wall, and the earth anchor is then placed inside. The metal rod is then drilled through the basement wall to connect to the earth anchor. Finally, the plate of metal is connected to the long metal rod and tightened to ensure it starts to straighten the wall. Over time, this can bring the walls back to their initial position.
- IntelliBrace™ System
With the IntelliBrace™ system, you no longer have to worry about your basement walls bowing even if you don’t have that 10 feet of space from your basement walls. That’s because the IntelliBrace™ system attaches from the inside of the basement walls rather than the outside, meaning you only need clearance on the inside of the wall.
The main crux of the IntelliBrace™ system is a zinc-plated steel rod that lines up with your basement wall. The steel rod is attached to the inside of the wall you’re trying to align. From there, you can tighten the IntelliBrace™ system over time, slowly but surely maintaining your basement walls. If you discover the problem early enough, you can even return your walls to their original position.
- Carbon Fiber Wall Reinforcement System
If you have a basement or crawl space that doesn’t have enough space for either the IntelliBrace™ system or the wall anchors, you may be able to gain strength in your walls again through a carbon fiber wall reinforcement system. This process requires carbon fiber straps and epoxy resin, which allows you to maintain a high-quality reinforced wall in your basement or crawl space.
It’s important to note that this system typically doesn’t do much if you have very serious problems in your basement or crawl space. That’s why you need to pay attention to these potential problems as early as possible. Carbon fiber wall strips can help stabilize your foundation walls, but they often won’t be able to straighten them.
Protect Your Home with the Expertise from Foundation Recovery Systems
The best way to make sure your basement, crawl space, or other foundation area stays healthy is to make sure you’re safeguarding it against hydrostatic pressure. The pressure itself is something that may simply be an element of the soil around your foundation. However, that doesn’t mean you have to just let it do whatever it wants.
If you’re looking for a better solution to your hydrostatic pressure problems, you need to talk to a foundation repair expert at Foundation Recovery Systems. Hydrostatic pressure is a common concern across a variety of homes, which means you need a unique solution that will help you maintain your home’s unique needs. Foundation Recovery Systems will help you do exactly that.