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Interior French Drain In, Groundwater Out

Many homeowners got a nasty surprise this spring, when rainstorms left the basement looking like a swamp. If you have a leaky basement, you may want to consider installing an interior French drain.

Many foundations are no match for saturated soil. When the water table rises, you need a system to divert groundwater out of your basement. Most contractors agree that the best solution is an interior French drain. Here's what it takes to install a French drain indoors:

  • Dig a trench next to the basement wall, around the perimeter of the basement. For most homes, digging a trench entails breaking up a concrete floor. Find a home contractor and/or a jackhammer to get this job done. The trench should be big enough to hold the drain pipe, about one foot wide.
  • Install a perforated pipe in the trench, wrapping it with filter material to prevent dirt and sediment buildup. Alternately, line the trench with drain tiles, skip the pipe, and fill with gravel. The water percolates through the gravel and the tiles divert it outside or into a sump.
  • A home contractor can tell you whether your basement requires a sump pump. Many interior French drain trenches lead to a sump, a hole in the ground that catches the water. Install a sump pump in the reservoir to discharge the water outside, away from your home's foundation.
  • Fill the trench with washed pea gravel, covering the pipe or drain tiles completely.
  • Repair the floor. It's a good idea to apply a moisture barrier to any exposed concrete.

Maintain Your Drain

If you already have an interior French drain and the water persists, a little system maintenance may be all it takes to keep the moisture out. Home contractors recommend cleaning the inside of French drain pipes once a year, to remove any sediment deposits that might be impeding the drain's effectiveness.

If you can get your hands on a pressure cleaner, you can perform this maintenance yourself. A pressure cleaner is a high-powered water blaster is highly effective for clearing out drainpipes. You can rent a cleaner or hire a plumbing contractor to do the job.

Don't be left out in the cold, with a wet basement. An interior French drain may be all it takes to keep the elements out of your home.


"How to Install an Interior French Drain," HGTV
"Keeping Water Out of the Basement," DoitYourself.com