March 31, 2006, Newsletter Issue #9: Causes of Hydrostatic Pressure

Tip of the Week

When it comes to your foundation, the pressure is always on. Everywhere you turn outside water is trying to breech your foundation walls and take a leak in your basement. Scientists and engineers and contractors call this hydrostatic pressure. You can call it whatever you want. Confused and need a guide to hydrostatic pressure? This pressure can come from anywhere: Rain running off a roof and toward your house, a high water table, and faulty gutter systems are the most common sources of hydrostatic pressure on a foundation. Wind-whipped rain is the most common cause of hydrostatic pressure on an exterior, above-grade wall. Sometimes interior condensation can be mistaken for seepage due to hydrostatic pressure. To distinguish between the two, tape a piece of aluminum foil to the inside of the foundation wall. Remove the foil after several days. If the wall side of the foil is wet, seepage is the problem. If the room side is wet, condensation is the problem (both problems can occur at the same time.)

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