No one wants to have a basement with moisture issues. Not only can increased humidity lead to mold growth and rot but, if not addressed, it can compromise the home’s structural stability and lower its market value. Moisture problems in the basement are most often caused by hydrostatic pressure. To combat this issue, there is a wide variety of waterproofing methods on the market that can help homeowners keep their homes protected against any future water damage. Although it is always better to consider ways to relieve hydrostatic pressure while the basement is still under construction.
Before we discuss possible solutions, let’s take a closer look at hydrostatic pressure and how this force can damage your basement. During a flood, rain, or when snow melts, water accumulates around the footing and the foundation. It slowly builds up and under the pressure of its weight penetrates the walls. Since concrete is porous, water can enter through cracks and pores in the walls. If a structure is not properly waterproofed, hydrostatic pressure will ensure that the walls begin to leak.
While completely sealing the walls seems like a logical solution, it is not a good one. Instead of sealing the basement, it is more efficient and affordable to relieve that pressure. After all, larger buildings can hardly be sealed up completely, and water will always find a way in. Therefore, it is much better to relieve and control hydrostatic pressure.
Relieving Hydrostatic Pressure
So, how can you keep hydrostatic pressure around your foundation under control? As mentioned, after it rains or when snow melts, water over-saturates the ground, and hydrostatic pressure increases. Therefore, to keep this force under control, you need to remove the excess water.
Sump pumps, sheet drains, perforated pipes, and other waterproofing products are designed especially for this purpose. However, they need to be properly installed and must work together. One product on its own won’t be enough to keep your home safe from water damage. However, when these products work together, the system works efficiently. If your basement is still under construction, installing a foundation drain is a good way to relieve hydrostatic pressure.
Foundation Drainage System
The most common solution for keeping hydrostatic pressure under control is the foundation drainage system. It is most easily installed while the basement is still not complete and consists of four components – the drainage pipe, gravel or drainage stone, the concrete that covers the gravel, and the discharge system (sump pit and sump pump).
This exterior drainage system is installed on the outer perimeter of the foundation wall near the wall footing. A perforated pipe is covered with a layer of gravel which is supposed to drain the excess water and prevent soil from entering the system. Perforations are thousands of small holes that allow water to enter the drain. This pipe captures the excess water and drains it towards the storm sewer or a catch basin. It is installed in such a way that it slopes away from the building. In other words, gravity pulls the water away from your home.
Factors That Affect the Effectiveness of the Foundation Drain
To increase the effectiveness of foundation drains, specialists use drainage boards in areas prone to heavy rains. These boards are installed on the concrete foundation walls and their purpose is to drain off water as quickly as possible.
Exterior drains need to be made from rigid drain tile or perforated pipe. It is also possible to use a flexible corrugated plastic pipe, but builders need to be extra careful not to crush it during backfilling.
The moisture content of the soil that surrounds the foundation has a great effect on the water drainage from the footing.
If trees are planted too close to the structure, their roots can eventually fill and damage perimeter drains. Another reason why trees should not be placed near the structure is that they absorb all the water from the soil and cause settlement.
Types of Foundation Drains
This type of foundation drain consists of a perforated pipe that is placed beside the foundation wall and slopes away from the structure. When the pipe is in place, the trench is backfilled with porous materials so that the groundwater can easily make its way to the drain pipe.
When it comes to the footing drain, the pipe is installed around the foundation’s perimeter at the level with the footing. This pipe collects excess water that would otherwise damage the foundation and drains it away from the retaining walls.
Problems with the Foundation Drain
While the foundation drain prevents water accumulation near the foundation and reduces soil erosion, it has some major flaws. This system is a pricey investment that requires professional and skilled specialists. If you are not building your home, the excavation needed for the drain installation will completely ruin your landscaping, and can even mess up your porch, patio, driveway, or pavement.
Since sediment can build up in the perforated pipe, this type of drain can get clogged. When this pipe malfunctions, water backs up, soaks the soil around your foundation, and causes damage. It has also been proven that this type of drainage system can carry nitrate through the drain pipes and channel it into nearby streams, rivers, and lakes.
Interior Basement Drains
Instead of excavating half of your yard to install an exterior drainage system, you can easily install an interior drainage system. It costs half as much, and the whole installation can be completed in about two days. These drains run along all leaking walls, collect excess water and direct it to a sump pump. This is a clog-free system because, unlike other drains, it sits on top of the footing and out of the mud.
If you wish to learn more about interior basement drains, please contact Complete Basement Systems and schedule a free inspection and estimate.