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FSM crew members installing exterior drainage

How to Relieve Hydrostatic Pressure in Your Basement

Hydrostatic pressure is caused by the water absorbed in the soil around a basement. It needs to be relieved with drainage.

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Hydrostatic pressure is one of the biggest concerns a homeowner should have when it comes to the structural integrity of their home. For instance, cracked walls, bowing walls, and leakage in your basement are all caused by hydrostatic pressure taking its toll on the structure of the property and damaging it in the long run. Therefore, it’s important to deal with hydrostatic pressure and not only the damage it causes.  

exterior drainage

What’s Hydrostatic Pressure?  

Hydrostatic pressure is a technical term that refers to the pressure that the water puts on the soil around your property. Over time, that pressure tends to build up on the foundation and walls of a home. The walls start to crack and bow, and leakage starts to seep into the basement.  

Water can pass through the smallest cracks in the walls even when they appear to be solid and well-built. If you see water leaking in your basement, you’ll want to get to the root of the issue before waterproofing.

Inside and Outside Solutions to Hydrostatic Pressure

Water needs to be drained away so that the pressure can be relieved. It all revolves around removing the water with a drain system. This can be done in two places: the outer wall of the foundation or in your basement or crawl space.  

Exterior drainage systems are almost always installed during the construction of a home. Once a home has been built, installing an exterior solution requires extensive excavation and is simply too expensive. We recommend interior drainage systems; let’s take a look at what exterior drainage systems are.   

Exterior Drainage System  

The goal of the exterior drainage system is for the water to flow away from the property and its foundation. A few major problems come up with exterior drainage:  

  • Sediments can work their way into the drainage system. This creates clogs and blockages. The foundation sealer can deteriorate over time. This is especially likely if cracks are formed in the foundation.  
  • Exterior drainage systems can only be fixed by replacement. There’s no easy way to do this since the drainage lines are below ground. It’s a messy and time-consuming process. The contractors will have to dig a trench around the house, disrupting your landscaping in the process.  
  • Decks and patios need to be removed. Sometimes attached garages, decks and patios need to be removed in order to finish the excavation work. This is messy work and it often means disturbing your family life in the process. 
  • The job takes two weeks to be completed. This too is a disturbance for most families and one that sometimes even requires the homeowner to find a temporary place to stay, while the repairs are in progress. 

Due to all of these downsides, it’s best to rely on an efficient interior drainage system to relieve hydrostatic pressure before it causes any more damage.   

Interior Drainage Solutions  

The amount of subsurface water beneath your foundation can vary over time based on the level of rainfall. This can cause a seasonal issue with hydrostatic pressure that will exert weight on the walls and cause cracks.  

The interior solution to this is to install a French drain. That’s a foundation drainage system with four major components. These are the drainage pipe, gravel or drainage stone, and the discharge system that consists of a sump basin and sump pump. This installation calls for complex, skilled labor that requires a team of experts with experience in this line of work.  

Many basement repair workers from Livonia, MI, install these systems into an already existing home because that area has a large amount of rainfall. However, this is a complicated intervention and it’s best to install such a draining system before the home is built.  

Sump Pumps  

Sump pumps are an essential part of the drainage system if there’s no slope that can move the water away from the foundation. That means that you’ll need to dig into the basement floors and install a sump pump in the bottom of the hole. The key here is to get a pump that will be strong enough to handle the amount of water accumulating beneath the home. Installing a sump pump isn’t something most homeowners can do on their own. It’s best to let a professional inspect your home and suggest the right sump pump system.  

It’s also useful to have at least one backup pump in case something goes wrong. Sump pumps should be able to sustain the increase in water during the rainy season.  


Once the water is diverted away from the foundation, it’s equally important to install vapor barriers that are permanently fastened to the basement wall. Even the smallest amounts of water won’t be able to enter the insides of the home.  

Vapor barriers are 12-mil thick and fastened to the basement walls and used to direct any leakage water to the basement gutter system. It’s something a homeowner needs to keep in mind since the replacement requires digging into the basement. It’s also essential that the team of foundation repair experts that installs your vapor barrier has plenty of experience and that they are able to find the solution suited to the soil on your property and the level of humidity you’re dealing with.  

Fixing the Damage  

Once the causes of hydrostatic pressure are dealt with, it’s important to fix the damage it’s caused. Sometimes this means sealing the cracks in the walls and sometimes it means installing push piers and bracing the walls so that they slowly return to their original shape and position. For the most part, that can be done by the same team of foundation repair professionals. That’s also a long-term solution after which the home will be safe and usable for at least decades to come.  

Hydrostatic pressure causes wall and basement damage and it needs to be resolved since it can bring down the entire home over time. It’s best to start by scheduling a free inspection, that will let you know how difficult the problem is and what needs to be done to fix it. 

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