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Hydrostatic Pressure Explained: What It Is and How to Prevent It

Bowing basement wall with cracks.

Are you familiar with hydrostatic pressure? It’s a significant issue that impacts basements all across the country, and it can cause big problems if it affects yours.

At AquaGuard Foundation Solutions, we specialize in resolving basement issues of all kinds. We’ve put together this expert guide to help you understand what hydrostatic pressure is and how you can safeguard your basement against it.

What Is Hydrostatic Pressure?

Hydrostatic pressure is the force exerted by water against any surface it comes into contact with, typically affecting basement walls and foundations. It occurs when water accumulates in the soil around your home, pushing against the structure, such as your basement wall.

This pressure can make cracks in your home’s foundation, which is bad news. Recognizing signs early, like water stains or cracks, can save you a lot of trouble.

For more information, watch this video from our friends at Groundworks.

What Causes Hydrostatic Pressure?

The type of soil around your home and the weather can both create hydrostatic pressure. If water can’t drain properly because of clay-heavy soil or lots of rainfall, it builds up against your home.

Also, if your basement waterproofing is nonexistent or poor quality, hydrostatic pressure has an easier time developing. It’s worth investing in basement waterproofing options to avoid serious damage (and repair expenses) in the future!

Impacts of Ignoring Hydrostatic Pressure

Ignoring hydrostatic pressure can lead to serious damage. Your basement walls could start cracking or even bowing inward. This not only makes your home unsafe but fixing these issues can be very expensive. More than that, it can lower your house’s value and cost you more in the long run.

4 Ways to Prevent Hydrostatic Pressure

Damaged, broken downspout.

Tip 1: Improve Home Drainage

One of the best ways to prevent water damage is to keep water away from your home’s foundation. Make sure your gutters are clean and that the downspouts send water at least five feet away from your house.

Also, the ground near your home should slope away to stop water from gathering by your walls. Lastly, think about adding an attachment to your discharge lines that prevents freezing, so that even in cold weather, the water your sump pump expels can still flow out of your basement.

Fully installed sump pump.

Tip 2: Use a Sump Pump System

A sump pump collects and drains water away from your home’s foundation, sending it outside to prevent basement damage. It’s a good idea to install a sump pump if you often find water in your basement.

As water collects around your basement, the sump pump gathers any that gets inside and moves it away, keeping your basement dry.

Installer placing vapor barrier onto basement walls.

Tip 3: Install a Wall Vapor Barrier

Another effective way to keep your basement dry is by putting up a wall vapor barrier. This barrier is a plastic, waterproof material that covers your basement walls and blocks moisture from getting through. You essentially wrap your basement in a protective shield.

Setting up a vapor barrier is a simple and effective way to make sure your basement remains dry and free from moisture. It also helps keep your home healthier by preventing mold growth.

Two men installing a wall anchor in a basement wall.

Tip 4: Invest in Wall Repair Options

Hydrostatic pressure puts a ton of stress on your basement walls, and they may need to be strengthened. At AquaGuard Foundation Solutions, we have different wall repair options, like wall anchors, carbon fiber reinforcement, and steel I-beams.

These techniques help support your walls against hydrostatic pressure and other forces. Wall anchors can pull curved walls back into place, carbon fiber straps stop further bending and cracking without using much space, and steel I-beams offer strong support.


Seasonal changes and local climate significantly influence hydrostatic pressure; for instance, wet seasons and areas prone to heavy rain or snowfall typically see higher levels of hydrostatic pressure. Awareness of these factors is key to implementing the best preventive measures.

Hydrostatic pressure can significantly reduce the lifespan of a basement by causing long-term moisture issues, cracks, and structural damage. Proper maintenance and waterproofing can help extend the life of the basement.

Building codes often require specific waterproofing and drainage measures to manage hydrostatic pressure, especially in areas prone to heavy rainfall or where soil retains water. It’s best to check local laws and codes to see if this applies to your property.

Schedule a Free Basement Inspection With AquaGuard

AquaGuard technician holding level tool, standing in front of work car.

If basement water and hydrostatic pressure affect your home, it’s time to call the experts. AquaGuard Foundation Solutions has been helping homeowners in Northern Georgia since 1995.

We’re a trusted source for basement waterproofing with over two decades of service and thousands of completed jobs. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection and get musty odors out of your home with a dry, protected basement!

Related Resources

Ted Dryce

Ted Dryce

Content Writer

Ted is an SEO Content Writer who has been with Groundworks since 2021. He’s covered home repair topics ranging from crawl space encapsulation to regional soil conditions. When he’s not working, Ted is performing improv comedy and working on his own creative projects.

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