Why We Don’t Recommend an Exterior French Drain
  • Posted on April 27, 2019
  • By Dave Mauldin

When your basement is flooding with water leaking in from the soil outside your home, it may be tempting to drain the water in the soil itself. Unfortunately, installing an exterior French drain can be costly and problematic. While exterior French drains are a common practice among basement waterproofing contractors, we do not recommend them and instead suggest the installation of interior perimeter drainage systems.

The following four problems are what we’ve encountered in our experience with exterior French drains.

Invasive Installation

Take a moment to look around your home. Do you have a set of prized rose bushes? A beautiful deck or patio? Maybe some steps leading up to your front door?

When you install an exterior French drain, all of that needs to be excavated and removed. That nice landscaping you’ve been working on will be gone and will need to be repaired after the installation. After all obstacles have been removed, the contractor will use an excavator to dig out the entire perimeter of your home. This step leaves large piles of soil in heaps around your home for the entirety of the installation—which, by the way, takes twice as long as installing an interior perimeter drain.

After the exterior French drain installation is complete, all of the removed soil will be backfilled. However, this backfilled soil will settle and a year later, the excavator will be back to add more soil.

Here at Mission Home Services, we believe that the least invasive installation is always the best option. We want to give you fast, convenient, and permanent solutions to your basement waterproofing problems.

Costly Investment

When you have to remove porches or patios and dig out the entire perimeter of a home as just the prep to an installation, the process gets expensive fast. The cost of installing an exterior French drain can run from $15,000 to $20,000 per installation.

These costs can be a huge burden to the average home owner. Unfortunately, if the exterior French drain clogs, the process has to be repeated in order to clear the drain, leading to even more expenses for the homeowner.

If the installation of an exterior French drain requires the average home owner to take out a loan or clean out their savings, then it might be time to look into other options. At Mission Home Services we want to provide our customers with permanent basement waterproofing solutions at affordable prices. Unfortunately, that rarely includes exterior French drains due to the high price.

Constant Clogs

Have you ever noticed flowers growing through cracks in concrete or vines crawling up the brick front of a home? Plants are tenacious and able to survive in places where they would not be expected. Despite the fact that the exterior French drain is placed on a bed of stone, possibly with a layer of filter fabric included, it’s tough to keep out plant life and dirt when you bury a drain underground.

Roots from plants, grass, or weeds will find their way through the exterior of the drain, creating clogs that are costly to clear. Dirt will inevitably find its way inside as well. Over time, the exterior French drain will fill with debris and need to be cleared—which means more excavating.

A permanent solution to basement waterproofing is one that isn’t prone to clogs, but instead is hassle-free and convenient.

Prone to Freezing

If you live in a cold climate, you understand how hard it is to keep pipes flowing and stop hoses from freezing over the winter. An exterior French drain is no different. While it should be buried below the frost line, if the drain clogs, water won’t run all the way through the drain, leaving it stuck above the frost line and prone to freezing. If your exterior French drain freezes, you’re left without a working drain until it thaws.

A flooded basement is bad enough in the summer when it’s warm, but it is especially bad over the winter when your basement fills with freezing cold water, after you’ve already spent so much money and time installing an exterior French drain to prevent flooding. But if your drain freezes, you could be right back where you started.

Here’s What We Recommend Instead:

We recommend installing interior basement drainage systems instead of an exterior French drain. We offer a wide variety of these interior drainage systems to solve every problem for every basement.

For many basements, the WaterGuard® System is a good solution. Our WaterGuard® System is installed with minimal invasion underneath the floor slab and on top of the foundation footing out of the mud zone. The WaterGuard® system collects water that seeps through basement walls and drains it to your sump pump. The system installs quickly and has a clean finished appearance, meaning you don’t have to worry about having an unsightly drain around the basement. WaterGuard® works for both block walls and poured concrete, ensuring that your basement remains dry in all situations.

But for other basements who may have thin floors or issues with hatchway seepage, we offer both the TrenchDrain™ Grated Drain Pipe and the FlowGuard® Thin Floor Drain System out of our many other options.

No matter what issue you’re dealing with, your basement can be dry again with Mission Home Services basement waterproofing. If you’re ready for a permanent solution to your basement issues, contact us today.

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