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Exterior Drainage Pipes

Installing an exterior drainage pipe should help you protect your basement and foundation from outside water. But these systems are not without their faults.

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According to the Concrete Foundation Association, 85% of the structural damage in homes is due to poor drainage. If you are a homeowner who appreciates how expensive foundation repairs can be, you’d prevent water damage and ensure your home is in top condition by implementing preventative measures such as exterior drainpipes. Read on to learn more about these pipes. 

What is an Exterior Drainage Pipe?  

An exterior drainpipe collects groundwater and directs it away from the foundation before it can cause any damage. It has perforations that allow water to drain in and out of the pipe. The pipe is usually buried in trenches all around the home’s perimeter at the base of the foundation footing.  

There are different variations of exterior drainage pipes, including:  

  • French drain: This is a perforated pipe that is installed in the yard to drain standing water. A trench has to be dug away from the house before the drainpipe is installed. Gravel or some other porous material is used to fill in the trench before it’s covered with soil. Standing water in the soil then seeps into the French drain and drains away from your yard.  
  • Footing drain: This perforated pipe is installed at the bottom of the foundation footing. It collects water that would otherwise have seeped into the foundation walls. Like the French drain, the footing drain is buried in a trench. It’s then covered with a porous material.

Exterior Drainpipe Installation 

Timing matters a lot in drainpipe installations. The best time to install these fixtures is during home construction and not after. Any installation after construction may prove difficult and disruptive as the ground has to be dug first. 

A typical drainpipe installation goes like this:  

  • A contractor surveys the site and identifies the best location for the pipes
  • A sloping trench that’s at least 12-inches wide is dug around your home
  • The trench is lined with filter fabric
  • Gravel bedding is poured into the trench
  • Pipe connections are made
  • The drainpipe is laid into the trench bed
  • The pipe is covered with gravel and filter fabric
  • The trench is finally backfilled with topsoil

For the trench to work properly, it has to be some inches deeper than your basement floor. 

Design Considerations   

Basement and foundation contractors usually consider various factors when designing and installing an exterior drainage pipe. Some of them include:  

Drain materials: Exterior drainage pipes should be made from a perforated pipe or rigid drain tile. A flexible corrugated plastic pipe is also an option, but extra care has to be taken to prevent it from being crushed during backfilling.  

Drainage boards: They are installed on concrete foundation walls to quickly drain off water to the perimeter drain. Drainage boards are common in areas prone to heavy rains and help prevent the buildup of hydrostatic pressure against the foundation wall.  

Placement of drains: The best spot to place a drainpipe is at the base of the foundation footing where silt is less likely to accumulate and cause problems.  

Regulations: Every state and city has its own rules when it comes to which type of foundation drainage you can install and where you can install it. It’s important to know what is and isn’t legal, especially if the installation will affect neighboring homes. 

Pros and Cons of Exterior Drainage Pipes 

The biggest advantage of having drainpipes is that they stop water from collecting around your foundation. This not only reduces the risk of soil settlement, but it also discourages plant decay and mosquitoes. That’s not to mention that drain pipes slow down water flow and this helps prevent soil erosion.  

On the downside, drainpipe installation requires skilled, professional labor. These pipes can also fill up with silt after a few years. In some cases, they can easily get crushed by the weight of the soil above them. Proper maintenance is paramount to keeping moisture at bay. Exterior drainage systems can contaminate water bodies as they carry nitrates, which they channel into streams, rivers, and lakes. 

Are There Better Alternatives? 

Instead of using exterior drainpipes, consider waterproofing systems like BasementGutter™ and the sump pump for flood protection. These interior drainage systems are safe, durable, and efficient. What’s even great is they don’t require deep excavations. The sump pump goes into the sump basin while the BasementGutter™ sits in the subfloor. Anytime water gets into the basement, the BasementGutter™ interior drainage system collects and channels it to the sump pump, which ejects it. As a result, water won’t pool on the basement floor or build hydrostatic pressure. 

Professional Drainage Pipe Installation  

If you need help installing an interior drainage system, contact the experts at Foundation Recovery Systems. A well-installed interior drainage system can help create a dry and healthy basement. For more than two decades, we’ve been installing interior waterproofing systems across Missouri and can help you with your unique situation. To get started, request a free waterproofing inspection and quote.    

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