Pros and Cons of Repairing Your Wet Basement with an Exterior French Drain

Thursday, October 16th, 2014 by Thrasher

One way of basement waterproofing that many contractors will suggest for waterproofing a basement is to install a French drain system along the outside perimeter of your home.

To install an exterior French drain, the contractor will take the following steps:

  1. First, the entire perimeter of your home must be cleared. Gardens, steps, porches, etc., must be removed before the work can begin.
  2. Next, the contractor will dig out the perimeter of your home. Excavated dirt will be heaped around the house.
  3. The drain will be laid in a bed of stone along the bottom. The stone, and possibly a layer of filter fabric, are there to protect the drain from clogging.
  4. The excavated soil will be "backfilled" on top of the system. In a year, this soil will settle, and the contractor will need to return to fill in more soil.

At Thrasher, we do not recommend installing an exterior drainage system. Instead, we suggest installing an interior basement drain along the inside perimeter of your basement or crawl space.

Getting Ready to Install and Exterior Drain System

You will need to remove:

  • Trees
  • Shrubberies
  • Gardens
  • Porches
  • Steps
  • Sidewalks
  • Patios
  • Driveways
  • And more

You can expect the contractors to create huge heaps of excavated soil around your home, create a mess. The installation time is twice as long or more than if you choose to have an interior system put in.

Failing French Drains

French drain systems have been installed on the outside of homes since the 1920s, and if they were the best way to dry a basement, Thrasher would be installing them, too. Unfortunately, placing a French drain or exterior footing drain along the outside is a recipe for failure. When you put a drainage system several feet under the earth, even in a bed of gravel, it will eventually clog with dirt, roots, and debris.

Sometimes, a contractor will try to stop this by laying down a layer of filter fabric around the drain. In this case, instead of the drain clogging, the filter fabric does and won't let water into the pipe. Other problems such as freezing pipes and improperly sloped lines are also common. This type of exterior drainage commonly will not handle water that collects under your basement floor, in which case you'll still need a sump pump inside your basement. Some contractors even connect the exterior drains to the sump pump inside. Now that's sure to clog!

What happens when your drainage system clogs? It will need to be excavated and you'll have to start over. Who wants to do that again?

Contact the Drain Repair Experts

For a free waterproofing quote, call or email us today!We service the Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri area, including Hastings, Columbus, Beatrice, Papillion, Maryville, Spencer, South Sioux City and nearby.