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What is the Clay Bowl Effect?

Tuesday, November 3rd by Cynthia Freeney


What is the Clay Bowl Effect? - Image 1

To build a basement it is necessary to dig a hole in the ground that is bigger than the actual basement. After building or pouring the floor and walls, the gap around the basement is backfilled with some of the excavated soil. This soil can never be as hard-packed as the undisturbed terrain surrounding it. As a result, it will absorb more water than the compact surrounding soil.

In industry, we call that natural tendency the “clay bowl effect”.

When the water from rain and snow melt over saturates the backfilled soil, hydrostatic pressure builds up. The pressure will push the water against the foundation walls. Seeking relief the water will follow the paths of least resistance and eventually find its way into the basement.Water often seeps in through the joint between the walls and floor.  It can also come through cracks, old basement windows, pipe penetrations, and mortar joints. In cinderblock walls, water also tends to accumulate inside the hollow bricks. Factors such as poor foundation or yard drainage will aggravate the problem. 

What is the Clay Bowl Effect? - Image 2

In a few cases, foundations intrude upon layers of natural bedrock and stand in the way of natural underground water paths. Water will seek an alternative route, and that often means leaking into to the interior of your basement.


About Basement Systems, Inc. 

To prevent and stop basement flooding, you need to prevent water from accumulating outside its walls with an effective drainage system. We understand basements and have developed a suite of products to keep basements dry. Our network of nationwide Basement Systems dealers are trained and certified in inspection, diagnosis and installation of these waterproofing products.

About the author

Cynthia Freeney Find me on LinkedIn

Cynthia has been working with Social Media, Video Marketing and SEO for the past 10 years, right here at the Treehouse. She currently manages all of our corporate YouTube channels and provides support to all of our dealers. In the Treehouse, she is the go-to person for all things YouTube. She loves history, period movies, Golden Age comics and enjoys spending time with her husband and youngest son, drawing, painting and making clay figurines.

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