Does your heart sink when you hear a thunderclap? Is there that worrisome place in your yard that never seems to dry up, especially after rain? Do you always have problems with water in the basement after a heavy downpour? If any of these ring true for you, a French drain could be a great solution! 

What is a French Drain?

A French drain is a trench system that is set into problematic areas. This system can be added to your yard or your basement to help transport water away from those problem areas and move it to a better area. The French drain system can be created with pipes or with a trench system that uses a perforated pipe. The area that is dug up is covered with gravel so that you don’t have an open trench space anywhere. 

How Do French Drains Work? 

In most cases, the French drain systems will collect the water in a specific location using a piping system. The pipes then use gravity to flow the water downhill and away from your home’s foundation or basement. That water can then be directed well away from the home to a drainage system or even into a rain barrel. Ultimately, the French drain is meant to be a path for the water, with little resistance in the way so that it can be directed to better areas and help prevent flooding, or an overflow of water. 

Professionals will also enclose the pipe within the French drain with something like fabric or a special material that allows water to easily permeate, but keeps things like leaves and other debris out of the drainage pipes. 

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When to Use a French Drain

There are certain scenarios where a French drain might be your best option. Every basement will have a different design and solution, and these drains aren’t always the answer. However, when you experience common issues that are caused by things like heavy rain or other excess groundwater, a French drain is often a feasible solution. Here are some common times a French drain might be useful. 

  • Repetitive Flooding or Water Damage

When you experience recurring flooding issues, this will eventually wear on your foundation, leading to things like cracks and other structural deterioration. A weeping tile is a type of French drain that is used for these scenarios. The intent behind a weeping tile is to help reduce hydrostatic pressure, better protecting your foundation from excessive water. When you are experiencing weeping through cracks or the foundation, the type of French drain that works best should be determined by a professional. 

  • Pooling Surface Water

If you’re experiencing puddles or pooling of water, a French drain can often help with this. What is happening is there is a weak spot, or perhaps even a place in the soil that isn’t easy for water to penetrate and then move away. The French drain provides an easier path for the water in these cases. 

  • Stressed Retaining Walls

When a retaining wall gets saturated, it can start to break under the pressure. This is because the water, especially an excess of water, is pushing on the retaining wall, and could make it fail. A French drain system can help redirect that excess water to keep the structural integrity of the wall more sound, especially when you have heavy rainfall. 

Types of French Drains

There is more than one type of French drain. To determine the best type for your needs, it’s best to bring in a professional. Drycrete Waterproofing can help you assess your water situation and choose the best solution. Give us a call for a quote. 

The two types of French drains are traditional drains and collector/interceptor drains. Let’s look at the differences. 

  • Traditional Drains: these drains use perforated pipe, gravel, and water-permeable materials to collect water and direct it to another location. These are the most common and are what you see described in the processes we mentioned above. They are also known as curtain drains.
  • Collector/Interceptor Drains: The collector or interceptor style of French drain collects groundwater or surface runoff and directs them toward the same drain as other moisture. The water moves quickly, but is also filtered to prevent debris from getting in the way of the line. 

In some cases, a collector or interceptor drain might be used in conjunction with a traditional drain. This simply depends on your needs. 

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Can You Install a French Drain Yourself? 

A French drain system is really not a good DIY project. While there are some awesome DIY projects out there, this isn’t one of them. The best thing that you can do is to use a professional to help you determine the best approach and to install the drainage system properly. This helps ensure that calculations and placement are correct, and the appropriate materials are used to get you the best results. 

What is the Difference Between a French Drain and a Trench Drain? 

Trench drains and French drains serve different purposes. The trench drain is really meant to collect surface water, which is water above the ground that never even gets to saturate the ground. The French drain collects groundwater that is or has saturated the ground. Both are meant to quickly move and redirect water, just at different levels. 

When a French Drain is NOT the Solution

It is imperative that you work with a professional to determine the best solution for your waterproofing needs. French drains certainly have their uses, but they are not always the solution. The biggest detail is whether or not you have an appropriate slope to adequately redirect the water away from the home and foundation. The other factor is whether there is an adequate location to redirect the water. This should be to a public drain, rain barrel, street, or waste area – never onto someone else’s property. 

Let a Professional Install Your French Drain Today

Drycrete Waterproofing has been serving the waterproofing industry for more than 10 years. Let us help you determine whether or not a French drain is the appropriate solution and work through the installation process with you. 

Contact us today for a free consultation to get started. 

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