After several feet of rainfall, do you find that water pools in your yard? Do you have a permanent damp spot on your lawn or basement? It could be time for a French drain.
There are many ways to solve basement water problems, but the French drain is one of the most effective.
If you are tired of all the rainwater that comes in your basement after heavy rains, or if you just want to give your home a little extra protection from outdoor elements, then French drains might be the solution for you.
These systems work by using gravity to redirect rainwater away from the foundation of your house and into an underground pipe system.
This type of drainage system can help reduce foundation damage so that it doesn’t need a repair later on!
What Is A French Drain?
A French drain is a trench that captures water and directs it away from the foundation of your house.
The trench can be dug in any shape, but typically looks like an “u” or horseshoe if you are looking at it from above.
Whereas gutters collect water as it runs off your roof, French drains manage drainage at ground level.
Let’s say after a storm you tend to have a pool of water in a particular low area on your property or next to the house.
Installing a French drain would help alleviate that problem.
This drain is also a solution for basements, where water leaks into the foundation.
In these situations, water infiltrates near the foundation and will gradually seep through cracks.
A French drain routes this water away from your home so that it does not accumulate in your basement.
If you want to keep rainwater out of your basement, then installing a French drain may be the best option for you.
Installing a French drain should begin with digging a trench along the exterior of the home’s foundation, then installing pipe inside it.
Types of the French Drainage
French drains have different types depending on where they are being used: basement, crawlspace, garage floor, or patio decking.
How to Dig a Trench for a French Drain
To start, you will need to dig a trench in the direction water should flow. Generally, one inch of slope for every eight feet of length is recommended.
To determine the correct slope, use a level string and tie it to two stakes.
First, measure the distance from your start point to where you’ll be digging.
To ensure your drainpipe is as effective as possible, make sure the diameter of your trench is no less than 12 inches. To ensure optimal depth, aim for 18 to 24 inches.
The pipe needs to be able to drain below the finished floor level in order to stop any moisture buildup in your basement.
Filling and Piping the French Drain
After the trench is dug, fill the bottom with a few inches of stone.
Landscaping fabric may be placed over the stone to avoid weed growth.
Next, lay piping into the trench. Choose a pipe type, either rigid PVC with pre-drilled holes or flexible drain pipe slit.
PVC lasts much longer, and if you run into any clogs or blockages, a plumber’s snake or pressure can be used to clean it out.
A more affordable option than a PVC pipe, with less complicated instructions, is a flexible pipe.
If you are choosing a Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe for your drainage, you can opt to connect it at a 45-degree angle and then leave the pipe sticking up out of the ground where it can be quickly accessed for easy cleaning.
French drains allow water into them from below, so when using PVC orient the pipe holes downward.
Take steps to protect your drain pipe from clogs, such as wrapping it with landscaping fabric.
Finally, backfill the trench with gravel to level.
Alternatively, pile up gravel that’s a few inches tall below grade, then add dirt to cover the remaining distance.
By covering the pipe, we keep it hidden. Yet, this complicates future cleaning and maintenance.
A Few tips on French Drains
- You can buy a perforated pipe that is flexible and comes with water-permeable fabric encased around it.
- Renting a trench digger will save you time and energy.
- To harvest rainwater for the garden, place a bucket or barrel at the end of your draining system.
- Before you install your French drain, plan where you will put the dirt that is excavated.