French Drain Installation and Home Foundations

Installing a French drain is a good way of protecting your home from water damage.  A French drain, sometimes called a weeping tile or a blind drain, is a type of trench that’s filled with gravel or has a perforated pipe that helps redirect water away from your home’s foundation.

The perforations can be either small circles or slots, but the slotted pipes are actually recommended because they don’t allow as much soil into the pipe.

While French drains are often used to help prevent water from seeping into a building’s foundation, they do have other uses, such as helping redistribute water or relieve water pressure.

There are several different variations on the French drain that may be used.  The filter drain is most often used to protect the foundations of houses.  If the flooding in the area is really bad, interceptor or collector variations may be used.  These help to collect both groundwater and surface water and carry them away from the foundation.

Drain Installation and Placement

When French drains are installed, they should always be installed near or around the foundation.  They’re fairly easy to install, but it’s still a good idea to have a licensed professional install them just to make certain that they’re set correctly.  Otherwise, you may find that the water doesn’t drain away quite like it should.

-The French drain has to be installed several dozen inches or more in the soil around the house.
-The perforated drain pipe is installed first, then covered by some washed gravel fill.
-This helps filter the water in the soil down into the pipe.
-Once the water is collected in the pipes, it’s directed away from the foundation and the house.

Some homes won’t really need French drains, especially if they’re on relatively flat land or if they’re built on top of a slope.
However, if your house is built on the lower end of a slope, water may often collect around your foundation.  This is where a French drain can come in very handy.  The soil may not be able to absorb all of the water, which means it may start leaking into the foundation, the crawl space, or even your basement.

How a French Drain Can Help

Water damage can be very difficult to detect at first, especially if you rarely go into your crawlspace, but once it’s noticed, it’s usually fairly extensive and expensive to repair.  A French drain will prevent this since it will help carry away a good amount of the water from the edge of your house.

There are a few things to remember when installing a French drain:  The trench can be dug fairly deep (six feet or more), but it needs to be at least two feet deep for a home built on a slab.  The perforated pipe always needs to slope downward from the starting point so gravity can help force the water downward and away from the home.

The piping should be covered by about 12 inches of washed gravel at a minimum.  If it’s installed correctly, you’ll find that water no longer seeps into your home’s foundation or basement, keeping it safe from water damage.

Basement Remodeling Begins with Dependable Waterproofing

Many houses have basements, but few people really take advantage of all that space.  Some are dark, dank areas used for storage or laundry at best.  If you’re not getting much use out of your basement, you might think about remodeling it.  Yes, this will take some money, but it can give you a huge useable space that can be used as a spare bedroom, an exercise room, a game room, and more.  There’s a lot that goes into remodeling a basement, of course, and it all starts with making certain that everything is waterproof.

While it may be okay for your basement to leak a little bit if you’re not using it for much, you certainly don’t want it to leak if you’re going to put down nice flooring and have furniture in it.  Many basements, especially those in older homes, are known to have small leaks from time to time.  Many people simply patch them with some kind of low-quality patch that holds for a while, but it eventually starts to leak again.  That’s why it’s very important to have dependable waterproofing installed before you start to remodel your basement.

Waterproofing Your Foundation

By waterproofing your basement, you’ll help protect the foundation of your entire house.  If your basement constantly leaks or holds water, the walls will weaken, and you may have to deal with a lot of structural issues.  There’s also the problem of mildew and mold growing in the walls.  That can lead to illness and allergies.

The first step in waterproofing is to install a drainage system to make certain that if there are leaks, the water will at least drain out instead of standing in the room and ruining things.  You will also want to make sure the room has been sealed using waterproof foundation materials.  This actually does more than just help protect the things you put in that room.  Once the walls have been sealed, you shouldn’t have to worry about water leaking into the room.

Consider a Water Pump

You may also need to invest in something like a sump pump.  This piece of equipment will help remove any standing water from your basement and prevent water from building up in the future.  If your walls have been waterproofed correctly, this shouldn’t be an issue, but if they haven’t, you might need to have a sump pump on hand just in case.  If you currently have a basement that leaks, you will definitely need a pump to use before you start waterproofing it so you have a completely dry area to work with.

If you’re considering remodeling your basement, you may want to hire a company to handle the waterproofing.  You do not want to complete your entire remodel only to find that there’s a leak somewhere in the wall.  Hiring a professional may add more to your budget, but it can also save you a lot of money in the long run if there are issues with leaks.  Even if you plan on doing the remodel yourself, just remember that the very first step is making sure your basement is completely waterproofed so the rest of your work isn’t a waste.

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What Is a French Drain System?

french drain systemFrench drain systems, sometimes referred to as drain tiles, are essentially ditches that are lined with gravel, stones, or rocks that help drain water away from low-lying areas. Installing a French drain system is a great means of exterior basement waterproofing, since they can be used to draw water away from sump pits or away from the basement’s walls, to a more appropriate area.

French Drain Benefits

The French drain system is named after Henry French, a judge and farmer from Concord, Massachusetts who discussed the subject of farm drainage in his 1859 book. Although, he didn’t invent it. A version of the system was first employed by the Romans, predating French by centuries. However, French helped bring the drainage system back into use, making it one of the most popular and effective ways to redirect unwanted water.

Modern French drain systems use gravity to work. The trench is slightly sloped away from the area needing to be drained, and towards the area where the homeowner wants to redirect the water. Since it’s filled with gravel, the water will occupy the space between the stones as it’s redirected, which means that not only will the water fail to escape through the ground, but that there won’t be any empty trench to pose a hazard.

Advantages of French Drains

The two main advantages of a French drain system is its affordability and its low maintenance. Since it can be covered with grass, topsoil, or even just filter fabric, it’s the perfect choice for a homeowner who wants an easy way to rid their yards of water and protect their home’s foundation in a more subtle — but reliable — way.

If you’ve ever had to pay for foundation crack repair, then chances are you’re willing to do whatever’s necessary to ensure that your basement won’t suffer any more water damage. A French drain system can protect your home from undue wetness and unwanted water damage. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

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Comparing Internal and External Basement Waterproofing

Many houses that were built very recently have excellent waterproofing in the basement.  This means that their basements very rarely flood due to burst pipes or other issues, and mildew and mold don’t grow in the walls.  This protects the home’s foundation from weakening and helps protect people from developing illnesses and allergies due to mold.  However, some older homes have basements that aren’t quite as well built as today’s modern houses.  They may have leaky basements, but there are some things that can be done about that.

When Is Waterproofing Needed?

Why stress over waterproofing your home at all?  Even if your pipes don’t break, there’s always the chance of a flood or a heavy rain increasing the amount of water in the soil (unless you live in the desert, of course!).  This can cause extra stress on the walls and floors of your basement.

If water can enter the walls, it can begin to cause damage to the support structure of your home.  Most houses should be waterproofed when they’re built, but what if you have an older house that wasn’t that well waterproofed?  There are some internal and external ways of adding waterproofing to a house to protect it from damage.

Internal Waterproofing Benefits

Internal basement waterproofing isn’t considered waterproofing by some experts because it may not completely keep water from entering the basement.  However, what it does do is redirect the water that enters the home.  This way, the water is removed from the basement instead of standing there.  One type of internal waterproofing is to install a drain in the floor.  A good drain in the center of your basement will help remove water from the room, but you do need to remember to have the drain checked regularly to make certain that it’s not clogged up.

Internal Waterproofing Benefits

External waterproofing, however, takes a little more work, but it will truly keep water out of your basement.  First, you’ll need some good footer drains that will collect and remove rainwater from the foundation before it can actually seep into the ground and enter the walls and the basement.  You should also have a good sump pump installed so that you can pump away any water that does get into the foundation.  A sump pump may not always be necessary in dry areas, but if you live in an area that sees a good amount of flooding or heavy rainfall, you may want to purchase a sump pump just to be on the safe side.

Other Waterproofing Solutions

There are many different types of materials and other solutions that can be used to block moisture from the walls.  These solutions can be sprayed onto the walls or installed in the walls to help keep water from entering the house.  Things like asphalt and tar used to be used to coat the foundation walls to protect homes from water damage, but these materials tend to deteriorate over time.

This means that older homes may need to have a new type of waterproofing installed, such as a polymer-based waterproofing product.  These polymer-based solutions will protect homes for much longer.

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Tips to Keep Your Foundation in the Best Possible Conditions

What is more important to your home than its foundation – other than providing a level platform for your house to rest upon, its’ use was designed to keep your house from slowly sinking into the ground over time. Your foundation faces pressure and stress put on not only by what lies atop of it but the ground that lies underneath and beside it.

List of Tips for a Strong Home Foundation

Here we provide essential tips on how to properly maintain your foundation and to keep it strong:

  • Repair the cracks
  • Even in the best of conditions, under that amount of pressure, any concrete will inevitably develop cracks. These can expand to become large crevasses if left untreated. It’s imperative to take note of small cracks as they appear and to ensure that they are filled with a foundation repair substance.
  • Keep moisture consistent
    Maintaining moisture levels as best as one can is critical for your foundation. Weather that is excessively dry can mean soil retracting away from it while excessive moisture can cause soil overexpansion.
  • Drain
    Ensure that your home’s gutters and downspouts are appropriately sized and in good repair. Not only that but be sure that the rain water being discharged is at least five feet away from our house if it’s built on sandy soil.
  • Maintain correct grading
    If you want your foundation to last, it’s important to make sure the ground slopes downward away from your home. This grade should ideally be between three and five percent within ten feet of your home’s foundation.
  • Watch for puddles
    Significant rains can mean significant puddles. If you suspect your yard and find any near the foundation, it’s important to divert this water away. It is ideal to have an Aqua Tech Waterproofing professional install an appropriate drain or swale to ensure that this is possible.
  • Moisture barriers mean less trouble
    If it’s not possible to repair the grade then having a moisture barrier installed at least five feet deep can help prevent significant damage to your foundation.
  • Erosion control measures
    If the grade around your home’s foundation is too steep, soil erosion can become a major problem but not one that can’t be solved. Materials commonly used to control erosion include plants, rocks, stone and concrete walls, timbers, and gravel and paving stones among others.
  • Plumbing maintenance
    Excess water doesn’t necessarily just come from rain. Leaks in your sprinkler system or sewer line can cause too much water to enter the soil. Ensure that these are inspects on a yearly basis and repairs are completed as needed.

Aqua Tech Waterproofing recognizes that not all of these preventative measures may be affordable or necessary for your home’s foundation needs. That’s why we think it important to contact us for a free estimate today.

We take a look at your home’s foundation and will be able to diagnose any possible issues, either present or forthcoming, to ensure that you are properly educated on what work is needed, if any. For more tried and true tips for keeping your foundation in the best possible conditions, continue to browse through our website and blog.

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Sometimes, Simple Leaks Aren’t the Only Cause of Water in Your Basement

basement leaks repairLeaks in the basement, in the short term, might mean just a little puddle on the floor. However, over time, water getting into your home could lead to a number of serious problems, especially if you do not invest in the proper basement leaks repairs promptly. Not only can foul odors that permeate throughout your home develop, but mold can begin to grow — mold that eventually lead to your family getting sick. In serious cases, you might even need expensive concrete foundation repairs.

Note: Both interior and exterior basement waterproofing are useful for keeping the basement dry, but you should always think about why water is entering your home in the first place.

Here is a list of reasons why water would leak into your house:

  • Busted Pipes
    Perhaps the problem that is easiest to both find and fix, is a leaky pipe. Over time, pipes can rust and seals can wear down. When that happens, every time you shower you could be adding to the amount of water that leeks into your basement. Luckily, leaky pipes are usually a simple problem that can be repaired quickly.
  • Wet Weather
    Heavy rainstorms or piles of snow melting quickly could cause water to pool up when the ground gets completely saturated. If a basement is not waterproofed, water could seep down not into the dirt, but into cracks and crevices of your basement. Water itself could lead to corrosion , but if it freezes, serious damage could develop. It might be harder to find exactly where the water is getting in, but quick repairs are vital for stopping problems from growing.
  • Sump Pump Failure
    If your sump pump is not working properly, the water that doesn’t naturally drain out of your home might get backed up and flood your basement. Calling a professional for sump pump repairs, if you don’t know how to fix it yourself, is the only way to avoid the problem again in the future.
  • Sewer Backup
    Most of the time, the basement leaks repairs you’ll need are just for the water that your kitchen sink and shower uses. Generally, the water is clean and, other than the physical damage, it isn’t all that nasty. However, when the sewers are backed up, all kinds of disgusting waste can get into your basement. This might be more rare than other problems, but is not always as easy to deal with.

Damp basements are common, and extra moisture in the air is not necessarily anything you have to worry about. However, if the floor and walls are noticeably wet, the problem might be bigger than you realize. So before issues become too serious and your home’s foundation is at risk, be sure to have a professional provide basement leaks repairs that keep your home dry and minimize damage.

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Little Cracks Can Indicate Big Structural Problems in Your Home

home foundation repairResearch conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs found that one in five homeowners will put off making repairs around the home, in part because nearly 40% of those surveyed said that it was difficult to find a reliable repair service.

However, if there are cracks in the foundation of your home, postponing home foundation repairs can be a big mistake. Those cracks could be a sign of serious structural damage; having experts diagnose the problems and make repairs right away is imperative. Prompt fixes can help you avoid more serious problems in the future.

Check Cracks in Foundation for Damage

Generally, cracks in the foundation are the most significant indicator of damage, and you can determine what they mean on your own before investing in foundation crack repairs. Renee Miller of SFGate.com notes that if vertical cracks “are wider at the top, it means that one end or both ends of the foundation have dropped, or the middle of the foundation is heaving or rising. If the cracks are wider at the bottom, it means one or both ends are rising, or that the middle is sinking. Cracks that appear horizontally in the joints of a concrete block foundation are a sign that the pressure of the soil has bent the wall and the foundation is failing.” Knowing what specific cracks indicate is important for getting the proper repairs.

There are multiple techniques that professionals can use to make effective home foundation repairs. For simple cracks, like those caused by shrinkage, at the base of walls, simple sealants and masonry patches can be used. Even if the damage is not structural, they can help prevent water from seeping in. Slabjacking is a highly specialized technique that is used to fill empty spaces below the foundation and piering, or piling as it can be known, is essentially the process of drilling steel pipes into the ground and mounting them to the foundation for extra support that prevents the foundation from sinking. The right process will make sure the foundation gets the improvements it needs.

Home Protection is the Key Against Water Damage

Skilled home foundation repair contractors will not only be able to decide on and execute the proper repair, but they will also be able to offer exterior basement waterproofing and other services that help prevent damage in the first place. Since 64% of Americans don’t have $1,000 in savings for emergency repairs, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, stopping damage before it happens is a good idea. Hopefully, those services will prevent the structural integrity of your home’s foundation from declining.