If you take a quick look at your basement, it may seem almost indestructible. It’s buried underground and made of sturdy, thick concrete walls so it is easy to assume that nothing can damage it. However, if you have ever had a problem with increased moisture levels in your basement, you know that this is not completely true.
Concrete is porous, which means it can be infiltrated by water from the soil that surrounds the foundation. When humidity levels in the basement rise, they wreak havoc all over your home. For example, they provide a comfortable environment for mold growth.
Mold is not something you want in your home since it can cause all kinds of respiratory problems. Moisture also leads to rot, so anything you have in your basement made of wood, from structural elements to furniture pieces, can begin to deteriorate. Also, moist and dark places attract pests, such as rodents.
As we mentioned, concrete is porous. In other words, it acts like a sponge. When hydrostatic pressure increases, water infiltrates the basement walls and enters your home. The best way to keep moisture out of your basement and prevent hydrostatic pressure problems is to keep this force under control. Let’s take a closer look at what hydrostatic pressure is, what causes it and how you can relieve it.
Cause of Hydrostatic Problems
During heavy rainstorms in Birmingham, AL, or during those days when large amounts of snow begin to melt, all that water soaks the soil around and beneath your foundation. This causes a high water table. A water table is the upper level of the underground surface that is always saturated with water. A high water table can lead to a flooded basement or failure of the septic system.
When the soil becomes oversaturated, hydrostatic pressure increases. Looking for the path of least resistance, water fills up the pores and enters the basement. Apart from heavy rains and snowmelt, local floods or nearby water sources can also affect hydrostatic pressure.
Should You Be Concerned?
Now that you know what can cause hydrostatic pressure to build up around your basement, you are probably wondering whether you should be concerned about hydrostatic pressure problems. There are several simple ways you could determine this. For example, you could drill a small hole in your foundation wall and keep your eyes on it. If it starts changing color and becomes darker, your basement is in danger of water damage.
You could also try the sheet test. Just grab a plastic sheet and hang it on the basement wall, securing the edges with duct tape. Moisture is surely entering your basement through the walls if you notice water drops on the sheet. You can also detect increased hydrostatic pressure by measuring humidity levels. If moisture levels are higher than 5% in your basement, you have a problem. To measure the emission rate of moisture you could also use a calcium chloride (CaCl) test.
Preventing Hydrostatic Pressure Problems
Usually, preventing hydrostatic pressure problems starts during the construction process. You can avoid water build-up through foundation design. However, if your home has already been built, you will need to take some extra steps toward prevention.
Weep hole installation: Weep holes are tiny holes that are drilled at the bottom of a wall and their purpose is to release water from inside your basement walls. By letting water out, you will keep it from building up and causing the hydrostatic pressure to rise. The excess water ends up in the interior drain system and the sump pit.
Regrading your yard: A lot of homeowners let water pool near their home’s perimeter. To them, water near their home equals mud on their shoes, nothing more. Unfortunately, large volumes of water that oversaturate the soil around the foundation can cause a lot of damage. Concrete is strong, but it doesn’t stand a chance against large amounts of water. With that said, foundation issues can reduce a home’s value by up to 15%. To prevent water from pooling around your home, the first thing you need to do is regrade your yard. It should slope away from your home, not towards it. When your yard has a positive grade, all rainwater runoff will move away from your house, leaving your foundation dry.
Gutter maintenance: Speaking of keeping your foundation dry, you need to make sure your gutters are in the best shape. These fixtures are not glamorous or fancy, but they are an important part of your waterproofing system. Without them, all the rainwater from the roof would end up next to your home, and infiltrate your basement due to hydrostatic pressure. Keep in mind that gutters can easily get clogged, so you need to make sure that no leaves, dirt, or debris are keeping the water from flowing into the downspouts. Also, gutters can crack and leak over time, so inspect them once a year to see if everything is in order.
Installing an interior drain: An effective way to keep hydrostatic pressure under control is to install an exterior drainage system. Unfortunately, this can be too complicated and messy if your home is not still under construction. Also, this system tends to clog often. However, there is a more suitable solution. By installing an interior drainage system you can prevent the water that infiltrates your basement from causing any damage. This drainage system will collect the water and direct it to your sump pump.
If you wish to prevent hydrostatic pressure problems, contact your local experts and find out which waterproofing solutions would suit you the most. AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists offer a no-obligation, free inspection and quote, call us today.