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How to Relieve Hydrostatic Pressure During Basement Construction

Hydrostatic pressure can damage basements and supporting walls. Dealing with it is essential to ensure the well-being of your home.

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Maintaining a home is a task that a homeowner should take seriously, and with great care. One of the long-term problems that may seriously damage a home and lower its value is hydrostatic pressure, which builds up over time and damages the foundation. 

It’s important to address that damage as soon as it becomes noticeable by installing a drainage system that will remove water from the property and relieve the pressure of the foundation and supporting walls. That will require construction work in the basement, as well as sealing and waterproofing the crawl space to prevent humidity from entering the home. 

Hydrostatic pressure

What Is It?

Hydrostatic pressure refers to the pressure that the water pressing the ground around a home makes on the foundation and walls. Water gets absorbed by the soil and gravity pushes it up against the foundation and the bearing walls, potentially causing damage.

It can cause basement walls to crack and leak or even to become structurally unsound and to lean or bow to the inside of the home. When it comes to this, repairs need to be made, but that will not be enough until the cause of the damage is resolved as well.

How Much of an Impact Does Hydrostatic Pressure Have?

The amount of pressure that water can exert on the foundation is often overlooked. It’s quite a lot and can cause great damage.

Four feet of water exerts nearly 300 pounds of pressure per square foot of the wall and a basement footing with ten feet of saturated soil above it must withstand 600 pounds per square foot.

A Lot Depends on the Location of Your Home

The location of your home on a property is one of those things that’s impossible to change once the home is built but it’s essential for dealing with hydrostatic pressure. A home should be built on top of the slope so that water naturally flows away from it.

It should also be built on soil that’s able to absorb water and withstand the pressure of the structure on top. Replacing the layer of soil is possible only before any construction begins.

A French Drain System

An interior drainage system is the most common and least expensive way of removing the excess water putting pressure on your basement walls. Most homes in Toledo, OH, use this approach, since the alternatives are too messy and complicated to install. 

A French drain system catches the water in a ditch below the home and moves it through drains away from the basement where it can’t cause damage to the structure. They are relatively simple to install and no maintenance is needed. It may require a pump to be installed as well so that it pumps the water into the direction that it needs to go.

The position and planning are essential to making the French drain system as useful as possible. The sump pit should be installed at the lowest point of the affected area so that it collects all the water that flows to it.

The size of the pipes should vary from it being the widest at the center point and becoming smaller towards the outside. That way, clogging can be prevented at least to a degree.

A Sump Pump

Sump Pump Installation

A sump pump is a key part of the drainage system and thus central to relieving the hydrostatic pressure around your home. It’s best if it’s chosen during the construction of the basement and made to fit the needs of the property in terms of how much water it can handle. That will save the homeowner a lot of time and effort in the years to come.

The pumps come in two main types: pedestal and submersible. The first one is noticeable within the basement and driven by a vertical shaft. They also last longer. The second kind is installed in the sump basin and then sealed so that the water can’t damage the electrical installation of the pump. They last about 15 years.

A sump pump with a cast iron core is a better option than the one with a plastic core since it will last longer. It should also have a no-screen intake design that prevents the pump from clogging. The pump should also have a mechanical switch that’s sturdy and hard to clog as well.

Waterproofing the Basement

In the end, it’s useful to seal the basement with a vapor barrier and thus prevent humidity that can still be accumulated from escaping it and damaging the rest of the home. 

The installation process is simple and takes no longer than a day. The barrier that’s installed will prevent any water coming into the basement from entering and make sure that it moves to the drainage system.

A vapor barrier is attached to the walls of the basement and used to create a seal as part of which all the water is collected and removed from the property without putting pressure on the soil around it.  

When constructing a basement, it’s best to schedule a free inspection from an expert on the matter, that will help you deal with hydrostatic pressure.

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