Are you fed up with all the ground water seeping into your basement? Do you hate patching up hairline basement wall cracks every so often? One no-nonsense basement waterproofing option may not have to be done on the basement at all: the French drain.

What is it?

Basically, a French drain involves digging a sloped gravel-filled trench wherein one insalls a perforated pipe that helps the water flow away from places where you don’t want water seeping into. With the water diverted safely away from your house, it won’t accumulate to seep into the ground and get into the basement walls and your home’s foundation.

French drains can be used as a measure against a number of problems, such as when there are surface water problems or when water leaks into basements. The way your French drain is constructed will depend on which issue you need to address, in order to achieve maximum effectiveness.

Basement waterproofing considerations

One approach is to have a French drain that is geared toward keeping water away from a basement. This type has to be constructed deep into the ground. The drain will run around the home’s perimeter at the depth of the foundation wall’s bottom.

This type is ideally constructed during the construction of your home, as it can be quite a hassle and difficult to pull off once your walkways, driveway, lawn, and other fixtures are already in place. The costs will depend on your property, but for an estimate, a 6-foot deep French drain covering an area of about 1,500 square feet should cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000.

Another approach is to construct an interior French drain. This is a more hassle-free approach when your home is already fully constructed, and in some ways, it offers better protection than deep exterior drains. Still, this is better done when the basement walls have not been constructed yet, but it should be an easier and cheaper option even when the walls are in place (the walls just need to be removed if they are).

An interior French drain is basically a trench dug out of your basement floor, and the perforated pipe is installed there to collect water seeping in. The pipe then diverts the water to a tank or basin, where a sump pump is waiting to send the water out to a storm drain. This drain should cost around a few thousand dollars.

Can you DIY a French drain?

If you’ve got the right tools, a fair amount of knowledge and skill, and enough confidence, then there’s no way you shouldn’t be able to construct your own French drain. Just keep in mind that, regardless of the situation, this is going to be one labor-intensive project.

French drains are great as far as basement waterproofing methods go. They’re not the most convenient fixtures to install, but there are few methods that work as well when it comes to keeping ground water flowing away from your basement. If you’re looking to keep your basement dry at any cost, then add French drains to your list of options.

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