Uses and Installation of a French Drain

Water damage to the basement or foundation is a common problem for homeowners. Not only can water damage ruin your personal belongings, but it's expensive to repair. Taking preventative steps, like building a French drain, can keep water away from your home.

French Drain Benefits

With the help of a French drain, you can protect your home from sub-surface, surface, and storm water damage. A French drain is a trench with gravel (and sometimes drainage pipes) that captures and directs water away from a house. This prevents water from flooding a basement or collecting near the foundation of your house. Having a French drain is especially helpful for those with houses lower than the surrounding landscape. Although it's commonly used to prevent water damage, a French drain can also be used in boggy areas of the lawn or garden. A French drain empties soggy areas into rain gardens or gardens where the water can sit and percolate slowly back into the groundwater system.

How to Make a French Drain

Before making a French drain, decide where the best place to put the drain is. Since a French drain is most commonly used to move water away from a home's foundation, it may be beneficial to put it in an area that's in need of drainage. Be sure to build it away from highly-traveled areas so they're not swampy. It's important to note that it's difficult to dig a drainage system in areas that have a lot of tree roots; however, water usually doesn't build up in these areas because trees absorb any excess water surrounding them.

After you've chosen the spot for your drain, you will need a shovel, gravel, landscape fabric, and shop scissors. Although the width of your trench will depend on the extent of your water problem, trenches are usually six inches wide. After digging the trench, line it with landscape fabric and fill it with gravel. To improve the appearance of the drain, cover the top with decorative gravel.

Things to Keep in Mind

A French drain for your home doesn't have to unattractive. In fact, a drain can act as a landscape feature. Using decorative rocks on the top of the trench and adding plants along the edges will improve the look of the drain. Fortunately, French drains are fairly inexpensive and if built properly, can be long-lasting. Purchasing top-of-the-line materials can ensure that the drain is sturdily built. If you're unsure how to build a drainage system, consult an expert. He or she can provide guidance on where to build the French drain as well as what materials are most suitable for making the drain.

In the long run, installing a drainage system can save you a lot of money by protecting your home form costly water damage. If you live in an area that accumulates excess water, you may need to install a French drain. With a bit of know-how and the right materials, you can successfully make a French drain.

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