Problem: Exterior Water Seepage
For some homes with basement flooding, a quick look at the yard will reveal the culprit. Some homes are unfortunately situated in small valleys or in other locations with bad drainage. These homes are usually located in a place where storm water will naturally flow, increasing the chance of basement flooding.
French drains were designed to deal with just such issues. The name was coined in honor of the drain’s inventor, Henry French. who designed the drain in 1860 especially for farmers who needed to drain overly wet and flooded fields. The system was so effective that it is still in use today for home waterproofing services.
French drains are not a full waterproofing solution; a sump pump should be installed in your home as well in case a large-scale storm proves to be more than the drain can handle. However, in certain situations, a French drain can greatly reduce or even eliminate the amount of water that makes it into your home. This minimizes foundation damage and strain on your sump pump.
Creating a Diversion
A French drain essentially provides an alternate place for water to go. It is a multifaceted trench that diverts water away from your home and directs it out of the area.
The first step to creating a French drain is digging a trench around the foundation of your home. The trench is then coated with a specially designed geotextile filter fabric. This fabric keeps dirt out of the French drain, allowing for maximum water flow.
After the fabric is put into position, the trench is padded with gravel before a permeable pipe is placed inside. The pipe is usually about a foot wide and designed to allow liquid in and solids out. After the pipe is placed in the trench, it is completely buried by the gravel, which secures it in place and provides an additional filter for solids. The gravel can be left bare as a landscaping addition or covered in barrier paper or even sod depending on your particular situation.