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Hydrostatic Pressure Explained: 4 Tips to Stop It

Bowing basement wall with cracks.

Have you ever heard of hydrostatic pressure? It can cause big problems for your home, especially if you have a basement.

At AFS Foundation Repair & Waterproofing Specialists, we’ve seen it all and fixed it all. So, let’s dive into what hydrostatic pressure is and how you can protect your home.

Understanding 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.

Causes of Hydrostatic Pressure in Homes

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 home’s waterproofing isn’t up to scratch, that can make things worse. It’s like having a weak umbrella in a heavy rainstorm!

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 Tips to Combat Hydrostatic Pressure

Tip 1: Improve Drainage Around Your Home

One of the best ways to fight hydrostatic pressure is by keeping water away from your foundation. Make sure your gutters are clean and that downspouts direct water at least five feet away from your house.

Also, the ground around your home should slope away to help water not to pool by your walls. Lastly, consider installing an anti-freeze discharge line attachment to make sure that, even in very cold weather, the water removed by your sump pump can still flow out of your basement.

Damaged, broken downspout.

Tip 2: Install a Sump Pump System

A sump pump helps pull water away from your home’s foundation and pumps it outside where it belongs. Installing a sump pump is a smart move if you often have water in your basement.

As water builds up around your basement, the sump pump captures any that makes its way inside. Then, it pumps it away from the basement, keeping the area dry.

Fully installed sump pump.

Tip 3: Install a Wall Vapor Barrier

Another great way to keep your basement dry is by installing a wall vapor barrier. This barrier acts like a plastic shield that covers your basement walls and stops moisture from getting through. It’s like wrapping your basement in a protective layer.

Installing a vapor barrier is a straightforward and effective method to ensure your basement stays dry and free from dampness. Plus, it helps maintain a healthier environment in your home by preventing mold growth.

Two AFS installers placing vapor barrier onto basement wall.

Tip 4: Consider Wall Repair Options

Hydrostatic pressure puts stress on your basement walls, so they may need strengthening. At AFS Foundation Repair & Waterproofing Specialists, we offer various wall repair solutions such as wall anchors, carbon fiber reinforcement, and steel I-beams.

These methods help stabilize your walls against hydrostatic pressure and other forces. Wall anchors can pull bowed walls back into place, carbon fiber straps prevent further bending and cracking without taking up space, and steel I-beams provide strong support.

Two men installing a wall anchor in a basement wall.


Signs include water leaks in the basement, cracks in the foundation walls, and noticeable mold or mildew growth in lower areas of your home. If you see these issues, hydrostatic pressure might be the culprit.

Completely eliminating hydrostatic pressure is challenging due to environmental factors, but it can be effectively managed and minimized with proper drainage solutions, waterproofing measures, and regular maintenance to keep the foundation dry.

Normal soil moisture is present due to natural processes and isn’t necessarily a problem, but hydrostatic pressure occurs when water accumulates excessively around the foundation, exerting pressure that can cause damage.

Schedule a Free Basement Inspection With AFS

AFS technician holding metal rod, standing in front of work truck.

If basement water and hydrostatic pressure affects your home, it’s time to call the experts. AFS Foundation Repair & Waterproofing Specialists have been helping homeowners in the Southeast United States since 2000.

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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