Groundwater management is essential not only in keeping your basement or crawl space dry, but also in avoiding damage to the foundation. Below grade structures (basements crawl space, and slab on grade foundations) are designed to resist a combination of both hydrostatic and soil pressures. The terms soil pressure (the pressures exerted upon a wall by surrounding soils) and hydrostatic pressure (pressure that is exerted by water due to its weight) for the purpose of this article are used to describe how these pressures affect the foundation of your home.
Most homeowners often do not consider foundation problems, and basement or crawl space seepage as avoidable with routine maintenance; however a great number of foundation repairs and basement waterproofing problems can be prevented by handling rainwater and surface drainage properly. Improper groundwater drainage can result in pooling water around the exterior foundation which leads to hydrostatic pressure on the foundation walls. Hydrostatic pressure can result in foundation damage, allowing foundation walls to crack, deflect inward, settle vertically, and allow water infiltration into the basement or crawl space of your home. Groundwater can enter your home in numerous ways. Common examples of water penetrations are foundation wall and slab floor cracks, tie rods, or pipe penetrations.
Groundwater management begins with an assessment of the existing site conditions. As the homeowner you have two fairly broad choices for site condition assessment. You can perform routine maintenance yourself to alleviate potential foundation damage, and control basement seepage, or seek professional advice from a contractor specializing in foundation repair and groundwater control. In the event that foundation damage is present the best course of action is a professional evaluation of both the foundation, and the site conditions contributing to the foundation damage.