St. Louis French Drain Installation
The drainage system is one of the hardest working systems in your home. It works around the clock to drive water away from the property. When your French drain malfunctions, it can lead to a cascade of events that can demolish the entire home.
Learn how installing and maintaining French drains can prevent flooding and protect your foundation from water damage.
How French Drains Work
French drains form an important part of the overall drainage system. When it rains, water is transported from the roof, into gutters, down into downspouts and ultimately into French drains to be expelled at a location away from your home.
Most houses come with French drains already installed. However, you can have additional drains installed in the basement and around the premises to expel water from the yard and underground.
How French Drains Malfunction
Rain and melting snow bring with them plenty of particles and debris. As water passes through the French drain, some of this debris can get stuck in the pipe. When this occurs, drains can become clogged and spew water back out. This backwashed water can end up back in your yard, settle around the foundation and seep into your basement.
You can prevent debris from clogging drains by cleaning them once in a while. If drains are not cleaned and maintained properly, they can cause extensive damage to many parts of your home. From stained walls to settling foundations, the effects of a malfunctioning French drain can be devastating.
Effects of Clogged French Drains
If a clogged French drain is neglected, it can cause a spectrum of structural and cosmetic issues in, out and around the home.
An obvious tell-tale sign that the drainage system is clogged is a soggy lawn. Because the water going through French drains pipes cannot be expelled, it comes back up and ends up on the lawn. This can ruin landscaping and exterior structures.
Cracks and Stains
If the water does not end up on your lawn, it is likely to end up in your home. Cracks, stains and discoloration on bricks, walls, floors and windows are signs of water seepage.
Water in the Basement
If you don’t have a drainage system in your basement, the water from the drains outside and from underground is likely to end up there. Water in the basement can be anything from flooding to small puddles on the floor. Other signs of a leaking basement are cracked or bowed walls, a damp crawl space and humidity.
Movement in the Foundation
The worst case scenario is if the water ends up in your home and starts to sink or shift the foundation. Foundation settlement is a critical problem and should be addressed professionally as soon as possible.
Types of French Drains
The materials used to make French drains affect their drainage efficacy and the likelihood of clogs. Drains made from plastic PVC and clay are preferred because debris passes through them more easily. Although they are effective, they can be expensive. Drains made from perforated plastic, on the other hand, are cost-effective but tend to hold on to the debris that causes clogs.
How to Unclog and Maintain French Drains
Cleaning French drains is quite easy. If you have some experience with drain maintenance, you can do it yourself. If not, ask a professional to do it instead. Getting pros to clean your drain system is advisable because they are better equipped to do a thorough job.
You can follow these simple instructions to clean a French drain:
- Start by clearing clogs on the top of the downspout.
- Using a screwdriver, open the part where the downspout meets the French drain underground.
- Find a hose, attach a high pressure nozzle and spray water through the part of the drain you just opened.
- Look as far into the drain as you can and use a plumber’s snake to remove debris.
- After removing debris, spray water into the drain again for several minutes. If the water comes back up, you need to call a specialist. It is possible that your drain is not installed correctly.
- Re-assemble the drain, putting the two pieces back together.
- Discard debris and find a reputable repair company in your area.
French drains installed in the basement and other sections of the home require more expertise to clean and maintain. This is because they are not as accessible as those on the exterior. Get in touch with a gutter cleaning company that can conduct maintenance on the property as a whole.
Before you hire professionals, make sure they have verified credentials, certification and plenty of work experience. In addition to calling gutter specialists, it is highly recommended that you consult a foundation repair company to assess the extent of damage caused by seepage.