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Solutions: Hydrostatic Pressure

When building a wall, whether it is a basement wall or an outdoor retaining wall, it is necessary to make it strong enough to resist the pressure differential from the soil side to the open side. This pressure will consist of two elements:
  1. Soil Pressure, which is a function of the soil depth and type
  2. Hydrostatic pressure, which will be simply the depth of the wall times the density of water

The designer has two choices on what to do about hydrostatic pressure:

  • Hydrostatic pressure can be factored in to the wall design, requiring a wall at least twice as strong as would be required from soil pressure alone
  • Hydrostatic pressure can be eliminated by providing a drainage path for moisture adjacent to the wall.

It is much more cost-effective in most cases to provide a hydrostatic pressure relief system. Today there are two basic types:

  • Crushed Gravel: A clean gravel is placed against the wall as backfilling takes place. This is a very slow labor intensive job with unpredictable results. Furthermore, waterproofing membranes applied to the outside of the wall can be damaged in this process.
  • Synthetic Sheet Drain System: Some type of sheet drain is used

Hydrostatic Pressure Relief System.Advantages of the Insulated Drainage Panel for use as the part of a Hydrostatic Pressure Relief system:

  • It insulates the wall from the soil, saves energy if interior is heated, moves dew point to exterior.
  • The flow characteristics can be predetermined by the designer through their choice of thickness.
  • The waterproofing is protected from backfill.
  • The Insulated Drainage Panel will provide a degree of compressibility, to mitigate the problems arising from swelling soils.

 

 

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GeoTech Systems Corporation.

GeoTech Systems Corporation
PO Box 1045
Great Falls, VA 22066
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703 759 0300
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Last Modified: November 15, 2003