French Drain Innovations: Out with the Old, in with the New

By: Jacques Bouchard
The standard in basement waterproofing for many decades was to installa drainage system outside of the foundation walls in order to catchwater and drain it away from the house. Unfortunately, exteriorfoundation drains are failing all over the country, causing basementsto flood at great inconvenience and expense to the homeowner.

Failing exterior French drain systems damage furniture, boxes,books, and anything else stored in the basement, and they require thewater to be manually pumped out. Flooding basements can encourage moldgrowth and create odors that can rise up to the rest of the home.Flooding can also lead to wood rot, lowering of the home’s marketvalue, and eventual foundation damage.

When French drains are installed around a home, they are typicallylaid in a thick bed of gravel to protect them from mud and soil aroundthe home. In some cases, a layer of filter fabric is also said tofurther protect the material from this soil. While this solution soundsideal, over several years, mud and sand will make its way through thegravel and into the drain, clogging the pipe. If filter fabric is used,it’s only a matter of time before it clogs entirely and keepsfoundation water from entering the drain at all!

Sooner or later, the French drain and their filter fabric will needto be cleaned. When they do, the entire perimeter of the foundationmust be excavated. Your foliage, gardens, steps, sidewalks, porches,and other landscaping located around the edge of the house will need tobe removed. The process is invasive, and a year after the soil has beenfilled back into the excavated area, it will settle and need to beregraded so that water is not directed towards the home. The new systemthat’s been installed around your foundation will be the same as theold one that failed, which means that you can look forward to a similarsituation in another few years.

To make matters worse, the exterior French drainis expected to discharge the water away from the foundation with nosump pump. This means that the French drain must run downhill to beeffective- a situation that’s not often possible. French drains thatdischarge to a septic system often run uphill, and they can’t dischargemore than the holding size of the system.

Alternatively, the entire excavation can be avoided by installing aninterior perimeter drainage system. With this process, the basementfloor is removed around the perimeter without damaging the footing. Aswater flows in through the foundation wall floor joint, it filtersthrough a bed of gravel and into a perimeter floor drain systemdesigned to be superior in shape and design to a French drain. Fromthere, it’s directed to a sump pump and drained beyond the foundationsoil. In the unlikely event of a clog in the drainage system, it caneasily be serviced without the need for external excavation. With anannual maintenance of the sump pump basement waterproofing system, it can be kept running smoothly, ensuring a dry basement all the time.

At one point in history, a French drain was the best option forfoundation waterproofing. However, with more basements flooding everyday, newer and better systems have been created that can betterpreserve your subterranean space. When it comes to foundation waterproofingPsychology Articles, it’s time to get rid of the old and embrace the new advancements in the industry.

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