Hydrostatic Pressure and how it functions to damage the foundation

What is Hydrostatic Pressure and how it can damage the foundation of a home?

We have often heard how the foundation of a home can get damaged by rising dampness and water, despite; there being no visible water clogging or regular source of water near the foundation area. The reason behind this ideology comes from the research conducted by governments around the globe – on existing construction, where they identified damaged foundations of civil structures due to underground water sources.

But exactly how this underground water source damages the foundation of construction was described by French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal in his research Archimedes buoyancy an empirical fluid dynamics in 1647.

The research showcased a fundamental principle of fluid mechanics that states that any pressure applied to the surface of a fluid is transmitted uniformly throughout the fluid in all directions in a manner that does not change the initial variations in pressure.

However, due to the fundamental nature of fluids, a fluid cannot remain at rest under the presence of shear stress since fluids can exert pressure on any contacting surface. If a point in the fluid is thought of as an infinitesimally small cube, then it follows from the principles of equilibrium that the pressure on every side of this unit of fluid must be equal. Thus, the pressure on a fluid at rest is isotropic; i.e., it acts with equal magnitude in all directions.

Based on this Pascal’s law, it was identified that when vertical pressure is applied to fluid the context of its pressure gradient force works directly in an anti-gravitational manner in the presence of horizontal pressure. This particular fluid property was termed hydrostatic pressure by Blaise Pascal in 1647.

Let’s walk you through in detail what hydrostatic pressure is and how it works.

What is Hydrostatic Pressure?

The hydrostatic pressure phenomenon occurs because of the vertical pressure of a home on the underground water table, which results in the generating pressure gradient force on the soil layer contacting the underground water table. Further, with the presence of horizon pressure due to the surrounding soil, the underground water table starts to climb upwards, following the anti-gravitational route described in Pascal’s law above. When this water contacts the foundation of a home, the load pressure is equally distributed throughout the foundation, causing the beginning of what we know as Hydrostatic pressure. This Hydrostatic pressure starts to happen when the soil around the home’s foundation gets saturated with water that can’t drain off. Hence, if this hydrostatic pressure isn’t relieved, it will start pushing against the foundation walls, completing the hydrostatic phenomenon that damages the foundation of the home over time.

Now that we know what Hydrostatic pressure is. Let’s walk you through how it works.  

Hydrostatic pressure pushes water through the wall 

Since concrete is porous in nature, once the hydrostatic pressure in the soil becomes too great, it can cause water to seep into the foundation through the walls that are compacted under the earth.

Hydrostatic pressure can cause a wall to bow inward and even crack 

The Hydrostatic pressure occurs because of the rising underground water table. Hence, with excess water in the soil around the foundation, the problem could get worse during rainy months as the soil becomes over-saturated. However, when things get better during dry months when there is little to no groundwater in the soil around your foundation, an instant change in pressure starts to crack and bow the foundation walls – making room for water entry.

Now that we understand what Hydrostatic pressure is and how it works – let’s walk you through the damage Hydrostatic pressure can have on the foundation.

Damages that Hydrostatic Pressure does to the foundation

The ingress of water into the foundation by the above-mentioned two processes results in damaging the foundation in the following manners:

  • Water penetration through concrete results in salt formation across the walls of the basement through a process called efflorescence. The term efflorescence signifies the property of any substances to lose wholly or partly their water of crystallization when their crystals are exposed to dry air even for a short time.


  • The ingress of water into the foundation walls in the form of damp and moisture; results in corrosion of the ferrous material (TMT) in the foundation that supports the constructed structure above it. Thus, the longevity of the entire construction decreases over time.


  • The continuous hydrostatic pressure underneath the base of the foundation from the soil layer results in cracking the pivotal foundation base. In the case of open concrete, the cracks displayed are horizontal or diagonal in nature when seen from the top view. In the case of the side view on the open concrete in the foundation, hydrostatic pressure displays diagonal, vertical, and horizontal cracks. On the other hand, if the foundation is covered using tiles, the entire flooring cracks up in an asymmetrical manner due to hydrostatic pressure.


  • Hydrostatic pressure always results in rising dampness across the foundation walls, which eventually ends up forming mildew, mold, and algae across the corners, walls, and floor of the foundation. These damaging components, if left unattended, result in spreading throughout the home, which can damage the health of the occupants in the building.


  • Due to continuous hydrostatic pressure many a time, the soil beneath the foundation becomes too soft, resulting in the home settling. A process in which the home sinks into the soil, as the soil shifts downwards due to the heavy load of the house – on soft soil, which ends up giving rise to diagonal cracks in the foundation, as well as, all across the building.

These damages caused by hydrostatic pressure on the foundation of the home result in deteriorating the overall quality of the building while decreasing the longevity of the home.   

In this segment of our blog, we dived deep into what Hydrostatic pressure is and how it damages the foundation of a home. In the next segment of our blog, we will dive deep into the methods to avoid or counter hydrostatic pressure and how the Sturdflex product range can help you in the process.

To know more, keep an eye on our blog page.