Water isn’t immune to gravity: it always moves to the lowest point. On many properties, that can be the ground around a home. When heavy rains fall or snow begins to melt, all that water can flow through the soil and right up to the foundation walls. One of the ways to stop this water from staying next to the concrete is to have a system that takes the water away. This is the French drain.
A French drain (also known as a weeping tile system) helps the drain out of the soil and around the foundation. It’s a key part of the protection system for your basement, and there are other benefits to having a working French drain, too!
What Is A French Drain?
French drains prevent ground and surface water from penetrating or damaging building foundations. We make them out of PVC piping with small slits in them, then cover the system with loose stone. When water moves through the soil towards the foundation, it falls through the stone and flows into the slits of the pipe.
We install French drains by cutting a trench along the perimeter of your foundation, laying the special pipe in the trench, hooking it up to a sump pump or other drainage channel, and covering the pipes with crushed Roundstone. The sump pump then moves the water out of your basement and to an area away from your home.
One note: despite the two common names, this system is neither “French” nor made with “tiles.” It’s named after the inventor, Henry French, and when he popularized the system, this proto-foundation expert (and assistant secretary of the United States treasury) used terracotta roofing tiles!
Why Do I Need A French Drain Around My Foundation?
A working French drain is essential for the integrity of your foundation and basement. Good drainage keeps your home dry and mold-free. Groundwater that collects in your basement can lead to all kinds of problems, from mildew and mold to large-scale cracking and shifting. By keeping moisture away from the concrete walls, you can prevent the degradation of the material and stop cracks from getting bigger.
A French drain can even improve your home’s value! Having a well-installed French drain increases your bargain power if you decide to sell your home. As a result, if you are planning to install a French drain system, you can consult with a professional contractor or drain company to ensure you have the best outcome.
Foundation experts aren’t the only ones who put French drains to good use. Many urban areas add them to street infrastructure as an alternative to open ditches or storm sewers. They’re also great for landscaping, and you can have French drains installed behind any retaining walls used in gardens or lawns to relieve groundwater pressure. If there are chronic damp areas in your lawn, putting in a French drain can stop pools that attract mosquitoes from forming in low-lying areas!