Water flows downhill, which is why flat or strangely sloped yards can experience water accumulation issues. Depending on how poorly a yard drains, large puddles and areas of mud can form. If the water is unable to drain away from a yard, it could flow in the direction of the home, which may lead to water damage and flooding. Installing a French drain can prevent flooding and keep ongoing damage at bay.

Understanding French Drains

The French drain was first described in a book that was written by Henry French in 1859. As a judge and farmer in Concord, MA, French discovered a technique that would allow excess water in a yard or field to be drained away to enhance crop yields and avoid flooding issues. This system has since been used to protect home foundations, boost field drainage, and lower yard saturation.

The French drain has a simple design that creates a path to move water away from the location. There are no special appliances that must be installed to help the drain function properly. Gravity naturally draws water into the soil. However, the water takes the route of least resistance, which is why flooding and standing water can occur. Installing a French drain can be done with a perforated pipe that’s placed under layers of gravel or stone.

Let’s say that a heavy thunderstorm sweeps through your neighborhood. Water may accumulate near your home’s foundation. If the flooding is severe enough, the water could get into the basement if a drainage path isn’t available. By having a French drain installed, water should be pulled away from your home.

How French Drains Work

The drainage pipe that’s used with this system is hollow and contains numerous holes. It’s able to collect water and carry it down to a drainage location, which can be a rain bucket or municipal wastewater drain. Water-permeable fabric is wrapped around the drainage pipe to keep dirt, weeds, and other types of debris from blocking the pipe perforations.

When soil is replaced with gravel or stones, it’s easier for water to move down and into the drainage pipe because of the larger gaps. Soil, in comparison, is densely packed. Every facet of the French drain system is designed to simplify the process of water moving away from a specific location. The pipe must be placed at an angle to make sure that the water that it gets doesn’t build up as well.

Advantages of a French Drain

While gutters are designed to collect rainfall from the roof, French drains perform a similar process at ground level. If water pools in a specific area of your property, placing a French drain in the vicinity would alleviate the issue.

French drains are also highly versatile. In the event that water gets into your basement, a French drain can be installed indoors. The installation process involves cutting into the basement slab, laying pipe along the trench, and installing a sump pump that will move the collected water to the exterior.

When to Install French Drains

Do you believe that a French drain might help you resolve your water problems? Here are several reasons why homeowners choose to install French drains.

Excess Surface Water

French drains are most commonly installed when a yard is having issues with puddles and pools of water that stand on the surface. Once soil becomes too saturated, the water won’t have anywhere to go. French drains provide this water with a new path and help reduce soil saturation. If you direct this water to a rain barrel or similar catch basin, it can be collected and used to water your lawn or garden once the warmer months arrive.

Regular Flooding

If your home experiences regular flooding issues, a type of exterior French drain that’s known as a weeping tile might be the best solution. Once installed, this drain should prevent additional damage to your home’s foundation. Weeping tiles can be positioned around your home’s perimeter to move water further away. Doing so lowers the hydrostatic pressure that’s placed on the foundation, which makes it less likely that the water will be pushed through cracks that are present in the foundation wall.

Keep in mind that weeping tile is specifically design to resolve hydrostatic pressure issues, which is why this type of French drain is usually installed in a deeper location when compared to a traditional French drain. Doing so should relieve flooding issues.

If you find that the water has already seeped through your home’s foundation, the interior French drain mentioned previously may be the right solution. The drainage board that’s affixed to an interior French drain sits between the home’s interior wall and foundation wall to make sure that any water that gets through the cracks is collected.

High Pressure on Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are designed to prevent erosion and keep soil in place. Once soil becomes too saturated, a high amount of pressure could be placed on nearby retaining walls, which may cause them to fail. Having a French drain installed means that extra water would be moved away from your retaining wall, which means that it should maintain its structural integrity during a heavy thunderstorm.

When to Avoid French Drains

Even though French drains are effective when used in many rain-filled yards, they don’t resolve all drainage issues. Just like rain gutters, French drains are meant to take water away from your property or to an area where the water can’t cause damage to your home. However, there still needs to be a decent slope near the affected area to allow the drain to direct the water away from your property. Otherwise, the water would build up in the French drain and cause additional drainage problems.

The water should also have a good place to go. Before you have a French drain installed in your yard, think about the drain’s end point. Along with municipal drains and catch basins, the water can also be sent to a rain garden or street. However, the drain shouldn’t be moved to a neighbor’s yard. If there isn’t a good location where water can be sent, another solution should be considered.

If you’d like to have a French drain installed in your yard, we have comprehensive knowledge of how these systems work and how to install them. Our team at Apollo Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning offers drain and sewer line replacement services to Troutdale, OR residents. If the water in your home is flowing at a slower rate than normal, our drain cleaning and clogged pipe services should resolve this issue. Before we provide you with any plumbing and drain services, we’ll give you an estimate that details the work that is set to be done and gives you an idea of the costs. Here at Apollo Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, we also offer heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services. Contact us today to request service or learn about our specials!

Meet the Author
Brandon Bird
Brandon Bird

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