Why Would You Need A French Drain In Your Yard?

seepageWater flows downhill …. Or it is supposed to by the law of nature, taking the easy route. When it doesn’t, that is when you need French drain installed in your yard. It is a trench that is slightly sloped and filled with round gravel with a pipe inside that gravel and it diverts water away from the level areas your home.

Don’t let the name fool you. It isn’t named French drain because it comes from France, any more than French Fries did. It is named for the farmer that had an idea to create such a system. His name was Henry French, a farmer and a judge from Concord, Massachusetts. His idea was published in a book back in 1859 and it has provided many farmers and homeowners help with drainage since then.

How It Works

A French drain provides water an easy channel to flow to a gravel-filled trench and into a perforated pipe that is placed at the bottom of that trench. The water then flows freely through that perforated pipe and it is emptied out and away from your home.

In most cases, the bottom of the trench is sloped approximately one inch for every eight feet. Depending on the layout of the structure and the land around it, the water is diverted to of the following:

  • A Drainage Ditch
  • A Dry well
  • A Low-Lying Area
  • The street

Instances when a French drain is needed would if you are experiencing issues with surface water. Examples of that is a gravel/rock driveway that washes out when it rains or a lawn that stays soggy.

A French drain is used when there is a retaining wall being built on a hillside and the most common problem that requires a French drain is when water is seeping into a basement.

Water In The Basement Problem

A French drain in this instance is also referred to as a footing drain. The dirt around the perimeter of a home is dug out at the footing level. Then the water is intercepted and keeps it from entering the basement.

The best time and the easiest time is to have French drain installed in new construction, but it can be done on existing built homes. It is more challenging to do it afterward, which makes it more expensive. The taller the basement walls, the further down the trench has to be dug in order to reach the foundation footing. Installing a French drain for a home already built may require ripping out any decks, landscaping, porches and walkways.

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