French Drains...are they worth it?

In the basement waterproofing business there seems to be an unlimited amount of products and methods available.

Right now, we will discuss a popular technique: the french drain and why in most cases we recommend alternative approaches for keeping water out of your basement.. 


What is a french drain? 

A french drain is a gravel-filled trench that uses pipes to flow water away from your property. A lining such as yard guard or landscaping fabric is installed along the bottom and sides of the trench. A perforated pipe is laid along the bottom of the trench and is then buried under 

several inches of gravel or stone. The most important aspect of the french drain is that the pipe is pitched to direct the water flow to the desired location. The fabric is then wrapped over the stone and the trench is then filled in and hopefully returned to an aesthetically pleasing finish. 

There are several terms used to describe a french drain such as a perimeter drain, filter drain, trench drain, tile drain, subsurface drain, and weeping tile.


Although several of the names are used to describe a french drain there are differences in how they function. 


OUTDOORS: French drains are used in yards to prevent water build up. They are also used 

around septic systems and behind retaining walls to decrease water pressure on the structure.


INDOORS: French drains installed indoors have the same primary function- to divert water away from the property. However, in your basement there are more effective and reasonable priced options. 

The abuse of the french drain system

New England Foundation Crack Repair visits numerous properties weekly to diagnose and give a quote on a perspective job opportunity. We are amazed on how many people 

think we are there to quote them on a french drain. We are consistently informing the clients that there is not a need for a french drain. Here's why:


1: Poured foundation: Water entering the property of a poured foundation is typically seen entering by a crack in the foundation, a pipe penetration, leaking tie rods, floor cracks or the floor to wall seam. All of these issues can be resolved with basement technologies by the techniques we use to seal these areas of issue. This prevents the water from entering the property before reaching a french drain system thus making the french drain system unnecessary. We prefer to stop the water from entering your property rather than deverting it. This is extremely effective and a fraction of the cost. Plus, we offer a lifetime warranty on water infiltration. 


2: Stone foundation: Water coming through the mortar of the stone foundation looks 

like a disaster and hopeless situation. Damage happening to your items stored in the basement could make you quick to jump at a french drain system. 

The issue is the mortar has deteriorated and has lost its structural integrity. Deteriorated mortar becomes porous allowing water to saturate through.

As this happens over time, the mortar weakens quicker and chucks of mortar between the stones can loosen and actually fall out. It is imperative to have the mortar replaced 

Which is called repointing. Repointing is necessary to return structural integrity to your foundation and will also prohibit water from entering through this area. 


3: Block: Similar to the stone example, the mortar between your blocks weakens over time and becomes porous. This allows water to saturate and enter your property. Typically, it's the same resolution which would be repointing. This will strengthen your foundation and prevent water from entering this area.


Choosing these methods offered by New England Foundation Crack Repair is a way of preventing water penetration and is considered a fraction of the cost compared to a french drain system. 


We prevent the water from entering your property rather than diverting it. Allowing the water to enter and be diverted increases the chance of dangerous mold growing. It also makes your basement air dryer causing less damage to stored items. 



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© 2020 by New England Foundation Crack Repair, LLC.

Located in Oxford, Massachusetts and serving greater New England

MA # 196513   RI #43292

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833-632-7225