If you live in an area with high humidity and excessive moisture, you have probably heard of French drain installation. It became quite a popular basement repair method. However, not many people are well informed about all the advantages of this complicated system. If you are still wondering what a French drain is, how it works, and who should get one installed in their basement, we are happy to help you with all the answers.
What is a French Drain System?
A French drain is a special channel, filled with gravel or rock, that directs water from your property or basement to the areas protected from flooding or to the spaces specially designated for it. It is one of the most effective waterproofing products.
A French drain installation is a relatively simple procedure that does not require much time. Nevertheless, if it is not approached professionally, you run the risk of damaging your property’s building structure.
Installing a French drain requires digging the ground dangerously close to your building. This is why before the installation, a thorough inspection needs to be conducted. This way, you can make sure that no important pipes, cables, or other installations are damaged during the installation.
There are two types of French drains: the interior one and the exterior.
Backyard French Drain
The French drain installed in the backyard is also known as the exterior French drain. It is normally installed in the yard, occupying the external perimeter of the basement. A special channel is dug out around the building to make sure that the water does not get inside.
Instead, the water gets into the important French drain – the pipe, from where it is directed to a sump pump, is installed inside of the house. Sometimes it can be done naturally by gravity, but in this case, your yard should have an “upward” position towards your basement, where a sump pump is installed.
Exterior French drain sometimes might be difficult to install. If you are a ready homeowner, installing an exterior French drain might require changing the landscape plan, digging at the driveways, sidewalks, etc. If you are building a house and want to install this system, please plan accordingly.
Interior French Drain
This type of French drain is very similar to the backyard one; It is however installed inside the basement. The French drain pipe is put along the basement’s internal perimeter. The perforated pipe is surrounded by gravel to protect the system from soil and dirt.
As the water gets into the basement, the pipes collect it from the basement floor and direct it to the sump pump. This way your foundation stays protected from excessive water and its consequences.
Installing an interior French drain is easier in houses that have been built already. They do not require changing the existing landscape. You will only need to remove all your belonging from the basement walls and the space around them. Our professionals, in turn, will remove some of the cement near the walls to install the drainage system.
Interior drains have certain advantages:
- Easier to install
- Easier to maintain
- The pipe is less prone to clogging
- Protected from dirt and soil
- Can be installed all year long
What Are Common French Drain Installation Mistakes?
As we said earlier, it is very important to contact professionals if you decide to install your own French drain in your basement. Those systems often fail and can cause numerous damages to your whole house if not installed correctly.
If you still decide to install the system on your own, you could study a few French drain diagrams available online. Also, make sure that you avoid these three common mistakes:
Make sure that you get your installation approved by a related agency.
While excavating the ground for your exterior French drain, you may damage important gas, electricity, or other cables, causing problems for your whole neighborhood.
Use the right materials!
Make sure that you use the smooth PVC pipes, not the corrugated plastic pipes.
Choose the right drainage stone for your French drain.
Make sure that you choose the clear stone instead of the base stone if you do not your project to fail in the nearest future.
When Does One Need French Drain in a Basement?
If you live in an area, where floods or storms are common, you definitely need to consider installing a French drain in your basement to protect your house. If you see any of the following “alarm signals” in your foundation, we recommend you to contact your basement repair contractor as soon as possible:
- Sings of excessive moisture in your basement
- Frequent rains, storms, and hurricanes
- Your basement has flooded before
- You live in a flat or low area
- The soil around your house easily traps water
If you do not like pipes in your interior, there is also a pipeless French drain system available. However, you should note that is not as effective as the traditional drainage system.
Weeping Tile vs French Drain
The weeping tile and the French drain are the two terms often used interchangeably. The two systems perform very similar tasks and have similar functions.
The weeping tile is a type of French drain, and it is a drain that is built to protect a structure against hydrostatic pressure. While the original French drain is placed below the surface and is mainly designed to prevent the excessive saturation of the soil.
Both terms refer to the same system, and there is not much difference between the two systems.
How Much Does a French Drain Cost?
The exterior French drain installation might be relatively cheap. You will have to pay between $1000 and $1500, depending on the size of the surface to be covered.
For the interior system, you might have to pay up to $6000. However, keep in mind that the Interior French Drain system has a number of advantages. It is safer and lasts longer.