Do you often see puddles in your yard whenever it rains? Or worse, have you noticed rainwater flowing toward your home? If so, this means that the ground is not level, and you could be dealing with problems caused by excess runoff in the future. These issues could include water damage to your basement and your home’s foundations.
There are a few ways to prevent all this from happening, but one of the simplest and most effective is installing a French drain. But, what is a French drain system, and do you need one? Read on to find out.
What Is a French Drain System?
Despite its elegant-sounding name, a French drain is more functional than fancy. The French drain is actually named after a person, Henry F. French. A farmer and inventor, he developed and popularized French drains in the 1800s.
A French drain is a drainage device installed underground in your yard. The purpose of a French drain is to prevent excess water from damaging your yard and property. It does so by capturing runoff via a perforated pipe. The French drain then utilizes gravity to divert water away from your home and yard to a more appropriate channel, such as a storm drain, cistern, dry well or rain garden.
What Is a French Drain System Made Out Of?
A French drain system consists of:
- A trench
- Filter fabric
- Gravel bedding
- A perforated drain pipe
- Landscape fabric
- Pipe fittings and joints
How Is a French Drain Installed?
The following is a simple overview of the installation process for a French drain system.
- Dig a trench. The drainage trench must be next to the house’s foundation and slope down toward the direction you want the water in your yard to go.
- Place gravel into the trench. A shallow layer of gravel helps prevent sand or soil from clogging the holes in the drainpipe.
- Cover the gravel with drainage filter fabric. This helps keep weeds from growing in the trench.
- Lay the piping. PVC is a popular choice because it’s highly durable.
- Wrap the pipe. Landscape fabric helps keep weeds away by blocking access to sunlight.
- Fill the trench. You can fill the trench with gravel until it’s level with the rest of the yard. Alternatively, you can fill it with gravel nearly all the way through with gravel and then add dirt on top. Filling the trench keeps your French drain from being an eyesore.
Keep in mind that you might need to install additional pipes as well as joints and other fittings so that the water from the trench can flow freely to the outlet.
The Purpose of French Drain Systems: Why You Should Install One
Because of gravity, water always tries to flow downhill. If you put something in its path, water will flow around the obstacle or, as dramatically demonstrated by the Grand Canyon, cut through it eventually.
You might think that water flowing downhill isn’t that big of a concern. However, over time, water that collects in puddles in your yard could seep into the ground and turn it into a soggy mess. If left unchecked, runoff could also kill your plants, harbor mosquitoes and trickle down to your home
Generally, water will always flow downhill, but if the ground in your yard is not level, it could collect standing water. Unfortunatel, runoff—from melted snow, rain and downspouts, could seep into the ground around your home, damaging the foundation.
There are many possible solutions, such as regrading your yard. But the simplest and most cost-effective method by far is installing a French Drain. The purpose of French drain systems in yards is to drain excess water. It does so without the need for elaborate construction or special equipment.
Do You Need a French Drain? Here’s How to Tell
The answer to the question, “what is a French drain and how does it work?” is quite straightforward. It’s a drainage device that utilizes the power of gravity to keep yards from collecting water and prevent water damage to property foundations. At this point, you might be wondering, “Do I need a French drain system?”
A French drain system is likely necessary if:
- Your yard is constantly soggy, or your lawn is often too wet to be mowed
- Your driveway is damaged due to erosion/washing out
- Water gets into your basement
- Puddles tend to form on your yard after it rains
- Your foundation shows signs of water damage, such as cracks, mold growth and stains on basement walls
Should You Install a French Drain Yourself?
While it is certainly possible to install a French drain yourself, you should keep in mind that it’s a labor-intensive, time-consuming project better left to experts. What’s more, it requires a lot of planning, measuring, digging and hauling of gravel. You’ll also need to get in touch with your utility companies to make sure you don’t exactly dig into their lines and pipes.
On the other hand, hiring professionals for your French drain project helps you avoid the pitfalls of a DIY job, such as leaks. The company you hire will also be able to advise you if a French drain is best for your situation or if you need another type of drainage system.
Rely on HD Foundations for Expert French Drain Installation
HD Foundations has extensive experience in drainage system installation, having serviced more than 2900 structures throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. We offer a free, no-obligation estimate. Get in touch today to learn more.