Your Guide To French Drains

Water damage is every homeowner’s worst nightmare, and drainage issues require immediate solutions. So, if you have water seeping into your basement through your foundation or pooling in your backyard, consider installing a French drain. This exterior drainage solution moves water away from trouble areas so you can enjoy a dry yard and basement all year round. 

What is a French Drain?

While the name may sound fancy, a French drain is simply a cost-effective exterior drainage solution. French drains are designed to move pooling water away from trouble spots and feature a PVC drain pipe with holes along the bottom set in a ditch covered in gravel. 

How a French Drain Works

A French drain works because of the laws of gravity – water at a high elevation will always travel to a lower elevation. So in the case of French drains, water is diverted through a pipe set in a gravel-filled ditch. Dug in the sloped ground, this ditch is covered in gravel to encourage water to pool away from the foundation of your house or other places it’s not wanted. 

Once in the ditch, the water rises to fill the trench. Then it passes through holes along the bottom of the pipe. Finally, due to the slope gradient, the water runs through the pipe to eventually drain in a place where it won’t cause issues. 

When You Should Use a French Drain

Does your yard resemble a swamp every time it rains, or is water pooling close to your home’s foundation? A french drain may be the solution you’re after. French drains manage water at the ground level, moving it away from your house to where it won’t cause problems. 

French drains are also a long-term exterior waterproofing solution that can solve your wet basement problems for good. No matter how often you fill the cracks, if water is pressing against your foundation, it will eventually seep in. You can achieve effective basement waterproofing by rerouting this water elsewhere with a French drain. 

With a French drain, you can also combat one of the most common causes of wet basements — the clay bowl effect. When builders lay a foundation for a home, they must dig into the ground to make room. This hole is later filled with unsettled loose soil that absorbs water better than the untouched earth around it, drawing water towards your foundation. A French drain prevents water from pooling around your home’s foundation in the first place, minimizing the clay bowl effect.

When to Not Install a French Drain

Since French drains require sloped land to function correctly, they are not the best solution for every bad drainage situation. The water diverted by a French drain needs to wind up somewhere. If your yard doesn’t have an adequate slope gradient, it will pool in the French drain trench rather than flow away. Ideally, the water should drain into a municipal drain, street, or suitable area of your landscaping. 

If you’re interested in learning whether or not a French drain is the right drainage solution for your Michigan water woes, contact Sir Williams Gardens for a consultation and a free quote. 

French Drain Installation

Installing a French drain is relatively simple, but doing so correctly is essential to avoid worsening your drainage problems. Therefore, it’s always best to hire a professional for your French drain installation. To learn more about the process, check out these steps for installation. 

  1. Plan the location: Identify where the water is collecting and where it needs to go. Water must be diverted into an appropriate place, not a neighbor’s yard or towards your home.
  2. Dig trenches: Trenches need to be deep enough to collect the water and have at least a one percent slope gradient for gravity to move the water where it needs to go.
  3. Lay the pipe: Set the pipe drain in the trench with the drainage holes pointing downward.
  4. Cover with gravel: Once the pipe is in place, you want to fill the trench with gravel and stone to encourage the water to flow into the ditch.

French Drains from Sir Williams Gardens

Although French drains may solve your excessive water issues, improper use or placement can lead to even worse drainage problems. That’s why you should choose a trusted expert like Sir Williams Gardens to install your French drain. 

Sir Williams Gardens installs professional French drains with a seamless finish that can cure your drainage problems for good. Contact Sir Williams today to learn if a French drain is suitable for your Michigan home.