A Closer Look at French Drains & How They Compare With Other Methods

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Although they are simple in design, French drains can avert some common and costly homeowner issues. 

For example, French drains can effectively protect your basement from flooding. This is a prevalent and costly issue for homeowners, as according to statistics, 98% of basements undergo foundation repairs. According to estimates from Home Guide, it can cost anywhere between $2,318 and $6,750 to have your foundation repaired. 


As you can see, knowing a little about French drains can pay off, so keep reading to find out everything you need to know about these simple drains, as well as how they compare to other drain types. 

How French Drains Work

French drains can be divided into two categories. Exterior French drains and interior French drains. 

Exterior French drains function to divert water around the exterior perimeter of your house. 

Interior French drains, on the other hand, function to divert and carry away water and moisture out from the interior of your basement using a sump pump. This is one of the most effective systems for treating severe damp problems in basements. It is also a convenient choice for already established homes that are developing moisture and water buildup in the basement.

During an interior French drain installation, a trench is installed around the edges of your basement, usually measuring around 1 foot wide and 1 foot deep. Into this trench is laid a perforated pipe. The perforated pipe is then covered with gravel and stones within the trench. This assists to keep debris particles filtering into the pipe and clogging the system.

The sunken pipe then acts to uptake and carry away water from the basement. The drains are constructed to run into a recessed sump that is fitted with a sump pump, which then pumps the water away to a point outside of your home.

The channels are usually concreted back to the same level as the original floor but can be left open for future maintenance access.

In most instances, walls can also be framed over the drain channels to conceal them from view. This is ideal for furnished basements

Interior French drains are also known as tile drains, pressure relief drains or basement drains.

What Problems Can They Solve?

French drains are an effective way to solve a number of problems associated with an unwanted build-up of water in your basement. 

Excessive water buildup can cause numerous types of damage accumulated moisture can cause irreparable damage to stored items within your basement and to appliances installed there. It can also damage the interior finishes of your basement, cause watermarks, and compromise the integrity of your basement’s structure as well as weaken the foundations of your house.

In addition, a damp basement can result in the growth of mold and bacteria, both of which can be pathogenic and exacerbate health problems such as asthma.

These issues are especially common in situations where your house is lower than other areas in and around your property, and water build up in the basement is severe. Accumulating groundwater is one of the common causes of a leaky basement. Interior French drains are a workable and simple solution for keeping water out of your basement, as they divert it at the heart of the problem. 

Installing interior French drains can guard against the costly damage associated with wet basements, as they will carry the excess water away from and out of your basement, allowing it to drain in a more preferable area of your property.

Where They Can Be Installed

Interior French drains can be installed in almost any basement, providing that your contractor is equipped to sink the required channels into the subfloor and install the correct sump pump system.

When looking to install interior French drains, it is usually best to go with a contractor that specializes in these installations to ensure that you get a seamless and well-functioning end product.

How Do French Drains Compare to Other Methods?

If you have already been thinking about installing an interior French drain, then you might be wondering how they stack up to other methods. 

French drains and sump pumps are typically more expensive than other methods used to treat damp basements, such as dehumidifiers, and waterproof wall paint. 

However, for anything other than mild damp problems—they are one of the most effective methods. A dehumidifier will not be able to sort out substantial levels of wetness, and they need to run continually to make any type of impact.

Waterproofing paints and wall sealants can help to some degree, however, they will not remove excess moisture, as it will simply sit in the walls behind the paint. 

For Best Results, Install a French Drain and Seal Your Basement

Depending on the source of the moisture within your basement, you might need to conduct sealing measures along with the installation of an interior French drain and sump pump.

For example, if your basement windows are allowing water to seep in, then you will be best off sealing those as well. You can do this by sealing your windows or getting window drains installed.

On the other hand, if cracks in the walls of your basement are the source of your damp problems, then you will need to consider getting these sealed, preferably expertly. Here at Armored Basement Waterproofing, we pride ourselves on our advanced foundation and crack repair system that incorporates both hydraulic cement and Heavy Duty Armored Vinyl to ensure an impregnable seal.

Do You Need an Interior French Drain Installed?

If your home does not have an interior French drain or a pressure relief system in the basement—and you are experiencing water damage and accumulated moisture on the walls and floors—then for the sake of protecting your property it might be a good idea to look at having an interior French drain system put in. 

If you want to guard against water damage in your basement, then browse our basement waterproofing services, or contact us if you have any questions.