Basement Perimeter Drainage: Types, Problems & Solutions

In this article, we’ll be discussing basement perimeter drainage and all you need to know about it.

Keep reading!

There are many types of drains in your home, all meant for different purposes. There’s one for the sink, another for the bathtub, and probably one by your washing machine.

However, there’s another drain that sits outside your home, and that is the basement perimeter drain. It is also known as the weeping tile system, and it is meant to help keep your basement area dry.

If this particular drain has a fault, then you’d be left with a wet and undesirable basement.

What Is A Basement Perimeter Drainage System?

All homes are built with a perimeter drain system, and it is meant to keep it water from flowing into your basement.

It does so by attracting the water that has gathered in the soil as a result of a heavy downpour, melted snow, or rising groundwater, then channeling it away from your basement.

This function keeps the water from seeping through the basement walls and compromising the structure.

Long ago, homeowners used clay tiles to drive water away, and since the tiles come in contact with water, they were fondly called weeping tiles.

Fast forward to this day, and the name is still associated with the basement drainage system.

Another common name for it is the French drain. This is because this method of water removal was developed by Henry French of Concord as far back as the 1800s.

How Does A Basement Perimeter Drain Work?

The perimeter drain is usually a plastic or PVC perforated pipe, placed underground and around the perimeter of your home.

The perforations are made up of thousands of tiny holes or silts that give way for water to get into the pipe and be redirected away from the building’s foundation.

The perforated pipe is usually housed by a mesh permeable sock, which stops soil particles from entering the pipe.

The pipes are then covered by several layers of graves in graduated sizes. The largest pieces are always the closest to the pipe and are followed by the smaller gravel. Soil is then used for backfill.

Gravels permit water to pass through the drain pipes without any dirt or debris clogging them up.

A properly installed perimeter drainage will have its pipes flowing away from the home, and not towards it. This will allow the water to flow without interruption into the main sewage system.

Types Of Basement Perimeter Drainage Systems

Here are the major types of basement perimeter drainage systems.

  1. Exterior Drain Tile

This system is installed around the outside perimeter of the building’s foundation. It is used to gather groundwater and direct it into the sewage system before it can penetrate your basement walls.

After the contractors have poured the foundation walls, they will position a flexible perforated pipe around the foundation by the base of the wall. Gravel will also be scattered on top and around the pipes to keep debris away.

  1. Interior French Drains

An interior French drain has a perforated pipe which moves water to a collection pit, and then pumped to the surface. They are installed along the interior perimeter of your basement and are placed just below the ground level.

The pipes are also covered in gravel so that mud particles won’t be able to get into the system. A 1ft deep/1ft wide trench is needed to house both the pipes and the gravel.

Some drains are covered with grates, and they can be taken off when it’s time for maintenance. But some are left bare, mostly if the basement is being used strictly for storage.

  1. Floor Drains

Floor drains are usually built during the initial construction of the home. They are commonly placed in the utility area to redirect excess water away from the basement.

The concrete floor around the drain slightly tilts towards, which allows water to flow in that direction and drain out. Most modern homes are required to have floor drains that direct water to a collection pit for a sump pump to carry the water away.

Back in the old days, some homes had their floor drains connected to the main sewage system.

However, this is hardly permitted in the modern-day, because the sewer can back up in the floor drain and lead to a serious flooding problem.

Each of the basement drains mentioned above redirects water to a collection pit and then pumped to the surface. The machinery required to do this job is known as the sump pump.

There are two types, which are the pedestal sump pumps and the submersible sump pumps.

Without the sump pump, the water that has been gathered in the collection pit will remain there and begin to soak up the foundation walls.

Be sure that you have a sump pump installed in your basement, and that it is regularly maintained so it can keep working at optimum level.

Signs Of A Basement Perimeter Drainage Problem

All problems have signs that can point you in the right direction, and so does perimeter drainage.

Below are some of its major signs of this system’s failure.

Water stains:

If you notice watermarks on your basement walls, then you could have a drainage problem on your hands.

Standing water:

If there is standing water close to the foundation of your home, then it could be a result of a damaged drainage system.

It could also mean that the landscape is tilted towards your home’s foundation, so you have to investigate to be sure.

Solutions To Basement Perimeter Drainage System Problems

Like any other system you have at home, the perimeter drainage system can also develop its fair share of problems. Thankfully, each unique problem has its own solutions, so don’t fret.

Let us take a look at some of the common problems your perimeter drainage system may encounter, and what you can do to remedy the situation.

  1. The Perimeter Drain Is Clogged

It is normal for a perimeter drain to get clogged over time. Debris such as fallen leaves, small rocks, pieces of paper, and even tree roots can make their way into the system and clog it.

When this happens, the drain system will no longer be able to carry the water through the pipes and into the sewer system. So, a clogged drain would also mean that water can seep into your basement walls and do some significant damage.

Unfortunately, concrete is no made with impermeable materials, so you can expect it to get soaked if there’s a drainage problem.

To prevent clogs in your drains, ensure that you carry out regular checks to ensure there is no debris lodged within. During these checks, get rid of any obstacles you find to maintain a smooth flow of water.

  1. Deteriorating Tiles

If you live in an old home, chances are you have concrete or clay weeping tiles.

After so many years of use, they would eventually become deteriorated and start to collapse. They can also be clogged with dirt and roots over the years.

If this is the case, then replacing the entire drainage system may be the only viable choice you have. For replacement, a more modern plastic weeping tile is highly recommended.

If the damage isn’t so extensive, then you can simply fix the sections with issues.

  1. Blockage

In a case where the tiles are blocked but haven’t collapsed, you can flush the entire system to get it flowing again.

Your contractor can create access points around the basement walls so they can reach the drains and have them cleaned.

If you have old drain pipes with ridges inside, then cleaning them would be an impossible task. In this case, replacement is the only option.

  • About Replacements

As the perimeter pipes are installed, a layer of gravel is scattered on top before the dirt is poured back in.

Doing this should prevent clogging, but if the entire system is clogged up, then you will have to dig up the area again and replace the pipes.

During replacement, it would be wise to install a clean-out port. It can be accessed from the surface, which means you won’t have to do any digging if the system needs to be cleaned in the future.

  • Is Your Drainage Connected To A Sewer System?

In older homes, the perimeter drainage is connected directly to the sewer system, and this is not ideal to handle large amounts of run-off.

If the perimeter drainage in your home is connected directly to the sewer, you could be at risk of overloading the system, and this can lead to water backups.

In such a case, you should disconnect your home’s drainage from the sewer.

Conclusion

Having a basement perimeter drainage system in place is the way to go if you plan to keep water flowing away from your foundation and into the sewer system.

Combining two or more drainage systems will ensure you get the best results.

Thanks for reading!

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