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Hydrostatic Pressure and Your Basement: Everything to Know

cracking basement wall affected by hydrostatic pressure

Forces beyond your control can significantly impact your home’s safety. This includes hydrostatic pressure.

Many homeowners hear about this phenomenon but aren’t quite sure what it does to their homes, particularly their basements.

The goal of this article is to change that. We’ll arm you with knowledge about this natural but dangerous process and how you can fight back to protect your home.

The key takeaway here is that your vigilance and quick intervention from local basement waterproofing professionals ensure your home’s health and your family’s safety.

What is Hydrostatic Pressure?

First things first, let’s define hydrostatic pressure.

Hydrostatic pressure is the force exerted by water at rest. This includes groundwater surrounding your home’s foundation. This pressure—both outward and downward—constantly acts on your basement walls and can lead to significant water and structural damage.

Considering water weighs around 60 pounds per cubic foot, your basement walls could be facing thousands of pounds of pressure at any given time.

What Causes Hydrostatic Pressure?

Hydrostatic pressure can develop in homes where water accumulates around the foundation, often following heavy rainfall or snowmelt.

This issue is common in areas with high water tables, where the elevated level of groundwater places added pressure on walls.

The specific type of soil surrounding your home also determines the extent of hydrostatic pressure against your walls.

For example, expansive clay soils tend to retain more water compared to other soil types. This increases the pressure they exert on your basement walls.

How Does Hydrostatic Pressure Damage My Home?

leaking basement wall

This constant force leads to significant problems in your foundation and basement, including:

In severe cases, hydrostatic pressure stresses the walls so much that they collapse.

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact a basement waterproofing specialist like Baker’s Waterproofing before things become that dangerous.

4 Ways to Protect Your Home from Hydrostatic Pressure

Ideally, preventing hydrostatic pressure should begin by adding proactive measures during the construction phase. However, additional preventive actions will be necessary for existing structures.

Hydrostatic pressure cannot be completely eliminated. Instead, focus on mitigating its impact.

Fortunately, effective interior and exterior moisture management solutions can significantly reduce the effects of hydrostatic pressure.

Here are four things you can do:

adding drainage and proper yard grading

1. Improve Exterior Drainage

Excessive water near your foundation can lead to serious problems.

You can avoid this with properly functioning exterior drainage systems like gutters and downspouts. Each system must be clog-free, and downspouts should extend at least 10 feet away from your foundation.

2. Ensure Positive Yard Grade

Exterior drainage systems, such as downspouts, depend on the slope of the soil surrounding your foundation.

If the soil is negatively graded—it slopes down but toward your foundation—water easily collects next to the foundation. This results in hydrostatic pressure, wall cracks, and basement leaks.

However, soil with a positive grade—sloping down and away from your house—directs water away from the structure.

3. Seal Cracks and Reinforce Walls

Even small cracks can develop on basement walls. Check your walls often and contact a repair specialist right away. Tiny cracks can often be quickly sealed.

Baker’s Waterproofing also specializes in foundation repair. We provide reinforcement and repair options for walls with minimal to severe damage.

These include carbon fiber straps, steel I-beams, wall anchors, and channel anchors.

4. Invest in Professional Basement Waterproofing

installing interior drainage and a sump pump

Proper basement waterproofing is essential for addressing hydrostatic pressure.

Interior drainage and a sump pump are important for effectively managing groundwater around your home.

The interior drain prevents water damage by directing water to the sump pump. The sump pump then removes the water and pumps it away from the foundation.

Pairing these systems with a wall vapor barrier, dehumidifier, and anti-freeze exterior discharge line attachment provides the comprehensive protection your basement deserves.

Protect Your Basement with Trusted Solutions

Understanding and addressing hydrostatic pressure is crucial for your home’s long-term health and safety. While preventing hydrostatic pressure ideally begins at the construction stage, there are still effective steps that can mitigate its impact on existing structures.

Baker’s Waterproofing specializes in providing solutions that protect your home from the adverse effects of hydrostatic pressure. Don’t wait for the problem to escalate. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection. Our expert team is ready to assist with innovative waterproofing and moisture management systems tailored to your home’s specific needs. Let us help you achieve a drier, healthier, and more stable living environment.


Yes, hydrostatic pressure can vary with the seasons. It tends to increase during wetter periods, such as spring thaw and rainy seasons when the ground around your home becomes more saturated.

Signs include water seepage in your basement—especially after heavy rain or snowmelt—cracking walls, bowing basement walls, bulging floors, and dampness or mold growth. If you notice these issues, hydrostatic pressure might be the culprit, and it’s important to seek assistance and a free inspection from basement waterproofing professionals right away.

Interior waterproofing can help manage water intrusion and reduce hydrostatic pressure effects inside your home. However, it is often most effective when combined with exterior waterproofing measures such as gutters and downspouts for comprehensive protection.

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.

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