What is Hydrostatic Pressure & How to Fix It
Expert Hydrostatic Pressure Relief Solutions for Your New Jersey Home
If you are reading about hydrostatic pressure, the odds are that you are a homeowner or business owner dealing with potential basement or crawl space water and foundation damage. That is the bad news. The good news is that we explain what hydrostatic pressure is, what causes it, how you know if it is a problem, and how to fix the issues it causes.
On that last topic, when it comes to fixing the basement water, crawl space moisture, or foundation damage that hydrostatic pressure can cause, these aren't DIY projects, as mistakes here can lead to even costlier repairs and can even be dangerous.
So instead of trying to take on these problems yourself, call Blue Umbrella, your trusted New Jersey waterproofing and foundation repair contractor. We have fixed the problems caused by hydrostatic pressure in hundreds of homes and commercial properties throughout New Jersey, and we can reliably fix yours.
So, let's get started reviewing everything you need to know about protecting your home from hydrostatic pressure, starting with what hydrostatic pressure is.
Dealing with hydrostatic pressure problems?
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What is Hydrostatic Pressure?
Hydrostatic pressure may sound like a complicated, scientific concept, but it's actually straightforward to understand.
Hydrostatic Pressure Definition: Hydrostatic pressure is the outward force that any fluid in a confined space exerts on a surface.
An example can help visualize the concept.
Consider how your ears pop when you swim down in a deep pool. Why does this happen? Well, as you plunge deeper into a pool, the water pressure increases. The water pushes outward against any surface it contacts, trying to escape the high pressure.
As you dive deeper, the water presses your eardrums inward, causing an uncomfortable sensation. You can blow while holding your nose to send air into your middle ear, equalizing or "popping" your eardrums back out. If you keep swimming deeper, the more the pressure builds up again, requiring you to pop your ears again.
The deeper you go, the more water above you, the more water pressure there is, and the greater the force exerted by the water on surfaces like your eardrum. So if you were to keep swimming farther down in the pool without equalizing your eardrum, the increasing force of the water could eventually tear your ear drum!
Water Pressure Against Your Foundation
Just as the water is pressing against your ear drum, it is pressing against all the surfaces it comes in contact with, including the walls and floor of the pool. If the pool walls are weak, given enough hydrostatic pressure, the walls start to give out, just like your eardrum tearing. The same principle applies to the foundation walls of your basement.
What Causes Hydrostatic Pressure Against Your Basement
Like a pool, your basement has a floor and walls, but unlike a pool, these barriers keep water out rather than in, or at least they are supposed to. You may not realize it, but your home's foundation is in a constant battle to keep outside water from getting into your basement.
Rain runoff, a high water table, and poor yard drainage lead to water-logged soil surrounding your foundation. As the amount of water in the soil builds up, the downward force of gravity compresses the water. The compressed water tries to move outwards to relieve the increased pressure, eventually running up against your basement wall.
With no place to go, the water keeps pushing against your basement wall: the more water in the soil, the more hydrostatic pressure against your home's foundation, which can spell disaster.
The Dangers of Hydrostatic Pressure for Your New Jersey Home
Disaster may seem an extreme word to use, but if not corrected, hydrostatic pressure can truly cause tremendously expensive and even dangerous problems for your New Jersey home's foundation.
Hydrostatic Pressure Can Cause Basement Water
The first problem you will run into as a result of unrelieved hydrostatic pressure is basement water and flooding. As the water pressure in the soil outside your basement wall increases, the water has to go somewhere. Given enough time, the water will wear away at the foundation of your New Jersey home, creating and seeping through cracks in your basement wall.
Initially, the water making its way in will be minimal, enough to raise the humidity in your basement and leave behind efflorescence, but not much more. But if ignored, the basement problem will continue to grow, from water droplets to water trickling to total flooding.
Eventually, after a stormy night, you will walk down to your basement in the morning to see your basement floor covered in water. Water that will damage your property in the basement and contribute to mold growth and rot. But you can avoid these problems by properly waterproofing your basement and dealing with exterior drainage issues.
Hydrostatic Pressure Can Cause Foundation Damage
A wet basement is not the only consequence of hydrostatic pressure problems. The physical force of the water can have detrimental wear and tear directly on your foundation.
With 60 pounds of pressure per cubic foot of water, heavy-water-filled soil outside your basement can exert hundreds of pounds of pressure on your foundation walls. No matter how well built, no foundation can resist the unmitigated force forever.
Over time, the pressure will wear down your basement leading to foundation wall cracks and floor cracks, as well as bowing, leaning, and tipping basement walls. If you see wall cracks or bowing foundation walls, you need to contact a New Jersey foundation repair contractor, like Blue Umbrella.
Hydrostatic Pressure Can Cause Crawl Space Water
But what if you have a crawl space instead of a basement? Unfortunately, crawl spaces are just as susceptible to the problems that hydrostatic pressure causes as basements are.
If you have poured a block wall crawl space the hydrostatic pressure can make water force its way through the walls and concrete floors of your crawl space. If you have a dirt floor crawl space instead of a concrete crawl space floor, the problem is even worse. Water under hydrostatic pressure in the soil is easily pushed up directly into your crawl space since there is no barrier.
Water in your crawl space means mold, musty smells, allergies from released mold spores, rotted wood, and a breeding ground for insects and other pests. Crawl space waterproofing and encapsulation are your best bet to prevent these problems.
What Are the Signs of Hydrostatic Pressure in Your Home?
You know hydrostatic pressure can create a bunch of problems; now, you need to know how to spot the warning signs. Catching the initial signs of hydrostatic pressure issues in your basement or crawlspace before they become serious complications is your best bet to avoid excessive damage and expensive repairs.
Common symptoms of hydrostatic pressure in your New Jersey home to watch out for include:
- Increased Moisture. Before you have outright basement water problems, you first have higher basement moisture levels. Higher moisture levels are indicated by condensation on your basement windows, visible mold growth or mildew smell, and efflorescence on your basement walls. These same warning signs are also true for crawl spaces.
- More Insects. Some insects prefer damp spaces to live in - earwigs, pillbugs, house centipedes, and carpenter ants. If you start to see a rise in the number of insects making your basement their home, this could signify future basement water woes.
- Wall cracks. If the hydrostatic pressure is starting to cause foundation issues, you may see small, thin horizontal or stair-step cracks along your basement walls.
- Wall bowing. Similarly, you may see slight bulging in your basement wall, or the wall may appear to be leaning/tipping slightly from the top or bottom. If the wall starts to give, it will only get worse. You need to strengthen your basement wall, fix the source of the hydrostatic pressure if possible, or do both.
Solving Hydrostatic Pressure Problems
Thankfully, there are ways to reduce hydrostatic pressure or at least protect your home from the potential damage it can cause. Blue Umbrella has helped hundreds of homeowners and businesses throughout New jersey defend their properties from hydrostatic pressure, basement and crawl space water, and foundation damage.
How to Reduce Hydrostatic Pressure
While you can't completely prevent hydrostatic pressure, you can decrease it by reducing water collection in the soil around your foundation.
Gutters & Downspouts
The first place to look is your gutters. You need to make sure that your gutters fully cover the length of your roof, are unclogged, and fully functioning. Inadequate or damaged gutters result in water pouring down from your roof directly onto the ground above your foundation.
Besides the gutters, you also need a long enough downspout that brings the water at least 15 feet away from your foundation, preferably channeling the water to the street, where the sewer can collect it. If your home is too far from the road, you can run an underground drainage pipe out to a bubbler pot, expelling the water into your lawn far enough away from the foundation.
Exterior Drainage & Grading
After you fix your gutters and downspout, you want to address any exterior drainage issues. If, when it rains, you see pools of water in your yard near your house, you have a problem. This pooled water will absorb into the soil around your home, increasing the hydrostatic pressure.
You can have a landscaper adjust the grade of your lawn so that your yard slopes downwards as you walk away from your home. Proper yard grading will ensure any rainwater travels downhill, away from your foundation, where it can't cause damage.
How to Prevent Basement & Crawl Space Water
If you have correctly graded your lawn and there are no issues with your gutters or drainage, unfortunately, you can still run into basement and crawl space water issues. Low-elevation states near the coast, like New Jersey, have higher water tables which mean more water in the soil.
On top of that, many areas in New Jersey also have soil with a high clay content. Clay can retain large amounts of water when absorbed. Retained water in the soil means greater hydrostatic pressure.
If initial hydrostatic pressure prevention efforts fail to fix your basement or crawl space water issues, waterproofing is the next step.
Interior Waterproofing Solutions in New Jersey
Interior basement waterproofing is the right solution for existing New Jersey homes and properties dealing with basement water. For interior waterproofing, Blue Umbrella drills weep holes in the bottom of your basement walls along the perimeter of the basement. The weep holes relieve the hydrostatic pressure by allowing any water pressing against the basement wall to pass through the weep hole into a french drain installed below the floor beneath the weep holes.
The french drain captures all entering water and channels it to a reliable sump pump (like Blue Angel by Wayne sump pumps) similarly installed beneath your basement floor. The sump pump pumps pump the water up and out of your basement to your exterior drainage system, which transports the water safely away from your foundation.
Add an emergency battery backup sump pump to keep the system running during any power outages and a basement dehumidifier to keep the humidity low enough to prevent mold and rot, and you have a completely waterproof basement.
Waterproofing a crawl space follows similar steps to interior basement waterproofing. However, we also encapsulate the crawl space to seal it off from humid, outside air and irritants, which contribute to crawl space moisture and mold.
New Jersey Exterior Basement Waterproofing Solutions
If you are building a new home or property in New Jersey, then preemptive exterior foundation waterproofing is just the ticket. Waterproofing during construction means you avoid the expensive and disruptive foundation excavation needed to waterproof the exterior of an existing home (this is one of the reasons we recommend interior waterproofing for existing NJ homes).
To waterproof the exterior of your foundation, Blue Umbrella applies a sealant directly to the outside of your foundation walls and adds a blue skin membrane on top of the sealant. The membrane and sealant keep water from penetrating the foundation. Last, we add a layer of drainage board to protect the sealant and membrane when earth is backfilled onto the foundation.
For even more protection for your new home, Blue Umbrella may recommend adding interior waterproofing in addition to exterior waterproofing for portions of your foundation that are more prone to water issues.
How to Put a Stop to Foundation Damage
We've covered basement and crawl space water. Now time to discuss foundation damage. As strong as your home's construction was when it was built, given enough time, stress, and hydrostatic pressure, foundation damage can occur, leading to bowing, leaning, and shearing basement walls.
The good news is that if you have Blue Umbrella repair your NJ home's foundation when you first spot problem signs, we can put your foundation back in reliable shape. We use two primary repair methods to repair damaged foundation walls - carbon fiber straps and steel I-beams - both of which are far less expensive than intrusive and often unnecessary foundation wall replacement.
Carbon Fiber Strap Installation in New Jersey
Carbon fiber straps (carbon fiber strips) are a minimally-invasive but reliably effective foundation repair solution for damaged foundation walls. The pre-cured and pre-pregnated carbon fiber strips carbon fiber straps, are installed every four feet flush along the offending basement wall.
The straps are secured to the flooring system using a top anchor and to your basement floor using a solid carbon plate anchor below the slab. Epoxy is applied to the strips, bonding them to the wall. The installed straps completely secure the foundation preventing it from bowing, tipping, or shearing. The straps can even be covered up or painted over.
New Jersey Steel I-Beam Installation
If the foundation wall damage has been allowed to progress to severe disrepair, we opt for steel I-beams. Like carbon fiber straps, steel I-beams are installed every four feet along your bowing basement wall and are secured at the top and bottom. The I-beams stabilize and secure the foundation wall preventing any further bowing or leaning.
Though they are more intrusive, steel I-beams provide permanent foundation repair for your New Jersey home when facing significant foundation issues.
Don’t Wait To Fix Your Foundation
Big problems often have small beginnings. That is definitely true of foundation damage. If you see basement wall cracks or bowing, leaning, or shearing foundation walls, call Blue Umbrella immediately. Delaying repair only gives the problem more time to grow worse.
If ignored for too long, the foundation damage will become so bad that the basement walls are at risk of collapsing, placing you and your family in serious danger. At that point, the only solution is completely rebuilding your foundation wall, an expensive and intrusive solution. You can avoid the risks of basement wall collapse and the financial burden of rebuilding the walls by having Blue Umbrella repair your foundation before it’s too late.
Blue Umbrella Fixes Hydrostatic Pressure Problems in New Jersey
At this point, you have learned what hydrostatic pressure is, its causes, problem signs, issues it leads to, and how to fix these issues. It may feel overwhelming, but it is important to understand that although you may be dealing with hydrostatic pressure problems for the first time, you are definitely not the first to deal with them.
Blue Umbrella’s crawl space specialists have spoken with and helped hundreds of homeowners, and business owners in New Jersey deal with hydrostatic pressure and fix their wet basements, damp crawl spaces, and damaged foundations.
So, if you have questions about foundation repair, concerns with bowing walls, inquiries about waterproofing, or anything in between, our professional team is always here to help. Reach out to us today for a free estimate or inspection. We look forward to helping you!
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