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A Closer Look at Hydrostatic Pressure

How It Affects Your Basement and What You Can Do About It.

If you’re a fan of the band Queen, you know their hit song “Under Pressure.” (Did the song just start playing in your head? You aren’t alone!)

As waterproofing experts, the word “pressure” resonates with us. Why? Because we work with pressure every day! That is, hydrostatic pressure.

Hydrostatic pressure refers to the pressure of standing water. Here in New Jersey, hydrostatic pressure is a force to reckon with. While we can’t combat nature and stop water from infiltrating the soil, there’s plenty we can do to protect our homes and living spaces from water seepage in Berkeley Heights, NJ, and across the state.

As the Water Table Rises, Pressure Increases

Hydrostatic pressure and the water table go hand in hand. The water table is the upper surface of groundwater that separates dry land from permanently saturated soil. Homes are built above the water table. But if you were to dig deep enough, you would eventually reach it. If you live near a large body of water, the water table in your area will be higher.

In a state like New Jersey that has many bodies of water and periods of heavy rain, we are susceptible to high water tables. In an online feature that lists all 50 states where No. 50 had the least amount of annual rain and No. 1 the most, New Jersey fell at No. 14 with an average yearly rainfall of 45 inches. Our frequent snowfalls, spring showers and summer storms make high water tables and hydrostatic pressure very real concerns in the Garden State.

Water seeps into the soil due to rainfall, melting snow or surface runoff. Since the soil can’t absorb all of that water, it begins to pool around your foundation walls and beneath the surface. As the water table rises, hydrostatic pressure increases and pushes against the foundation walls, the slab and the footer. The higher the water table, the higher the pressure.

How Does Hydrostatic Pressure Affect My Home?

Since water follows the path of least resistance, it will enter any nook or cranny it can find. This can be existing cracks in your foundation walls or new cracks that develop. Since concrete is porous, water can enter through any gaps in your concrete walls or the slab. In addition, basement floors are usually poured to a thickness of only two to three inches. This means that water can easily penetrate through the floor as well. There doesn’t need to be a large gap or crack for water to enter your basement. With the forces of nature at work, water can seep through the tiniest entry point.

leaky basement caused by hydrostatic pressure nj
A leaky basement caused by hydrostatic pressure.

You know that the water is there. But just how heavy is it? According to a study measuring the weight of water, one cubic foot of water equals 7.48 gallons which equates to 62.42 pounds of water per cubic foot. That’s a whole lot of weight for a small amount of water! This is why it’s important to alleviate that pressure and redirect the water away from your basement!

Look for Signs of Hydrostatic Pressure

Not sure whether your home is feeling the effects of hydrostatic pressure? Here are some red flags to look out for in your basement or crawl space:

• Bowing walls
• Cracks in the floors or walls
• Mold or high humidity levels
• Mold/mildrew growth on drywall, carpet and wood
• Efflorescence on basement walls
• Rising floor caused by pressure against the slab
• Musty smell in the basement
• Water leaks

If you notice any of the above in your home, contact us to request a free estimate.

What Can Be Done to Stop It?

Just because there’s water near your foundation, you don’t need to panic. It’s virtually impossible to prevent water from infiltrating the soil and pooling below ground. But with the right waterproofing strategy, you can limit the effects of hydrostatic pressure in and around your home.

We install interior French drains to redirect water that’s seeping through the foundation. We’ll drill weep holes to alleviate the pressure on your foundation and dig a trench that leads to the sump pit. From there, your sump pump will discharge the water up and away from your home. If your basement already has existing cracks, we’ll seal them up to prevent future leaks.

Take the Pressure Off With Blue Umbrella

Feel like you can’t keep up with the water in your basement? Let our team take a load off your shoulders with our waterproofing solutions. Whether you have a wet basement in Scotch Plains, NJ, or elsewhere in New Jersey, Blue Umbrella has you covered. We’ll step in to get your space nice and dry before the spring showers!

To schedule a free estimate for your NJ home, contact us online or call Blue Umbrella Waterproofing at 908.432.8858.

Steve Karlik
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