Where Did the French Drain Originate?
Contrary to the popular notion, the French drain didn’t originate in that country! It was actually an American farmer, Henry French, from Massachusetts, who first publicized the idea in a book he wrote about farm drainage, back in 1859. The concept behind the idea is wonderfully simple, and we will show in a few articles, how it can help solve your damp basement problems.
The Reason Your Backyard Remains Damp & Soggy
Water, as everyone know, will always try and find its way down to the lowest point that it can reach, but there are many reasons why it can’t naturally do that. The end result of this inability to drain away completely, is the primary cause of all of those soggy, boggy, back yards and lawns, and flooded, damp, basements.
The Sponge and Dampness
Let’s illustrate the point by a simple example. Take a large sponge and place it in a bowl big enough to contain it. As you gently allow drops of water to drip onto the sponge they get soaked up, while the interior of the bowl initially remains dry. If you allow this to continue for long enough, the obvious happens, the sponge becomes saturated and the water will start forming a pool around and on top of the sponge.
The Multi-Layered Earth We Live On
Picture the layer of soil that covers the earth’s surface as a multi-layered material. Were you to sink a shaft down into it, the profile of the layers would change as you penetrated deeper and deeper into the ground.
The very topmost layer, in most cases, is similar to the kitchen sponge we started talking about. It absorbs and soaks up the water falling on it in the form of rain. The force of gravity acting on the surface water, will cause it to keep percolating down and down, until it either hits very dense clay or rocky strata, which will slow its downward course, sending it sideways, looking for another route to travel.
What is the Water Table & How Does It Affect Us?
Ultimately the water will join the underground streams and rivers that meander under the earth’s crust, and in many places the level of this underground water will build up until it is quite close to the surface. This is what is known as the water table, and its level defines whether the surface of the ground will be dry, or remain wet and soggy.
The water table is constantly fed by heavy rains, melting snows, and mountain water flowing down seasonally from higher to lower ground. This causes the table to rise, sometimes reaching close to the surface. Any subsequent rain falling onto the wet ground will obviously not be able to sink lower than the surface of the table, and the result will be the presence of moisture in abundance close to the surface!
Drainage, the Villain or the Hero of the Plot?
So the cause of the problem is lack of drainage, and the solution is to find an expedient and economical way of alleviating this problem. Enter the French drain, the subject of the next few articles we will write on the subject of how to eradicate the dampness problem in your basement. In the meantime feel free to contact us for an assessment of your basement and other waterproofing problems. We are trained and equipped to solve them for you!