Hydrostatic Pressure: An Absolutely Essential Concept for Architects to Understand

Water Management

Course Description

Hydrostatic pressure – the term itself – is just one of those things that makes you sound smart. But the concept itself seems really intimidating! Good thing it’s actually pretty straightforward. For water to become a problem for our building enclosures, there needs to be some kind of driving force pushing it to the interior. For masonry buildings, that force is often capillarity (water wicking through a porous material, like you see when you dip a paper towel into a cup of water). But for framed buildings, the main force we’re usually contending with is hydrostatic pressure: the force that water exerts against a surface when it’s held up against that surface. This short presentation describes the physics of hydrostatic pressure and applies it to a couple common architectural details.

Course Instructor Christine Williamson

Course Length 10:00

Published 15 Sep 2022

Please note: viewing this course and completing this quiz do not currently count towards AIA CEU credits.

Keywords: Hydrostatic pressure, water control membrane, WRB, water resistive barrier, drainage mat, leaks, water management, building science, building enclosure design, architectural detailing


About Building Science Fight Club

Christine Williamson - Assoc. AIA

Building Scientist | Instructor

Christine Williamson has spent her career in building science forensics, discovering why buildings fail and working with owners, architects, and builders to remedy the problems. She is the founder of the Instagram account @BuildingScienceFightClub, an educational project that teaches architects about building science and construction.