French drains have been used for thousands of years all over the world. French drains are a
drainage tile system in a trench surrounded by gravel. French drainage tile systems have
been used throughout history for many purposes. Some common uses for french drainage
tile systems are: BASEMENT WATERPROOFING and surface water drainage.
BASEMENT WATERPROOFING - To construct a french drain as a basement
waterproofing system, you would dig a trench alongside the foundation. A perforated
drainage tile pipe would be installed, surrounded by gravel and then backfilled to fill in the
trench. Installation inside the foundation would require jackhammering a trench through
the concrete floor and then re-cementing the floor.
These drains would either empty away from the home through an outside underground
pipe leading down slope away from the house, ultimately to daylight. The other alternative
would be to install a sump pump.
DISADVANTAGES OF FRENCH DRAINS: As water seeps through the soil on it's way
to these type systems, it picks up sediment from the soil. The water entering these drainage
systems becomes light, muddy water. Layers of sediment build up in the gravel around
these drain tiles and also inside the pipes. Over time, the gravel and drainage pipes become
so coated with mud and sediment from the soil that they block up. Once blocked, they can
no longer drain underground water away from your home and the basement will resume
Many new homes are built with these type systems. The problem for homeowners is that
most states only require a builder to warranty the home for 1 year. These systems will
generally last at least that long, leaving the builder off the hook. The problem comes a few
years later as these systems begin accepting less and less water ultimately causing the
basement to leak.
A leading Home Inspectors Association reports that over 85% of new homes will
experience leakage at some point. This figure alone shows the inability of these type
systems to solve basement water leakage problems permanently.
SUMP PUMPS - Homeowners inquire all the time, "Will just installing a sump pump
solve my basement water leakage problems?".
A SUMP PUMP can be very usefull in many basements for a variety of applications. For
instance, some basements do not have any floor drains because the sewer system exits the
home at a higher elevation than floor level. Unless the sewer lines were originally installed
below floor level, it's impossible to even install a floor drain that would work. In this case,
by installing a SUMP PUMP below floor level, you can add as many floor drains as you'd
like. The SUMP PUMP will simply pump this water up into the sewer system.
"Will a sump pump solve basement leakage problems?"
No. Any water leaking into the basement will have to run across the surface of your
basement floor to get into the SUMP. In this situation, the SUMP PUMP would act simply
as a floor drain but the basement would continue to stay wet.