Why and When a French Drain is an Effective Solution

One of the most important outdoor maintenance tasks for any homeowner is making sure that water drains quickly and properly whenever moisture accumulates. Poor quality drainage can cause a host of problems, ranging from flooded basements and garages to soil swelling and cracks in the structural foundation. 

Unfortunately, these issues can cost thousands of dollars to repair. The good news is that installing a French drain can be an ideal solution.

What is a French Drain, and How Does It Differ from a Surface Drain?

The main components of a French draining system are an underground perforated pipe, trench, and gavel. These components rely on the power of gravity to move surface-level water towards a lawn’s lowest point and avoid the problem of oversaturation. 

Water first enters the trench and then gradually seeps into the pipe. Once inside the pipe, water flows away from the home’s foundation.

French drains differ from surface drains in three important ways. These include:

  • Design: The perforated pipe of a French drain is useful but can break easily if the people installing them do not have a lot of experience. The installation process is labor-intensive and requires extensive skills. Surface drains contain a metal grating, making for fast and simple installation. These drains are also multi-purpose for use in parking lots and garages in addition to being less susceptible to breaking and rusting.
  • Effectiveness: French drains are most appropriate for pulling moisture from oversaturated soil. They serve a limited purpose since the soil’s slope must be considerably large for this type of drain to work properly. The lifespan of a French drain is just a few years because they are prone to clogging from trees, roots, and shrubs. Surface drains remove a large amount of rainfall in a short period of time. They are at less risk of clogging due to a higher flow rate.
  • Purpose: Homeowners who install French drains typically do so to drain water surrounding the home’s foundation or a garden. These drains release trapped water and are especially useful for preventing oversaturation of a lawn. Surface drains are desirable for a range of applications. They divert large amounts of water and are especially beneficial at the end of a sloped driveway.

Should Homeowners Attempt to Install Their Own French Drain?

Homeowners can save money by purchasing the necessary components and installing a French drain themselves. However, installing the French drain incorrectly can quickly offset any money they would have saved by hiring a professional from the start. 

People run the risk of causing significant damage to their lawn or sustaining a serious injury due to their inexperience with French drain installation.

Those who choose not to attempt to install their own French drain should request a free estimate for the job from a licensed contractor. The estimate should include a flat fee for labor, parts, and materials.

Hiring a contractor experienced with French drain installation provides homeowners with important peace of mind. Going with a professional also releases them from the obligation of renting tools for the project and obtaining official permission from city administration. The contractor takes care of all those details for them.