If you’re looking for a short answer to this question, then yes, a French drain can definitely save your foundation and prevent future problems from occurring.
However, the long answer involves different situations that you should take into account when considering installing a French drain. Although this system is one of the most effective preventive and remedial measures a property owner can take in order to protect the structural integrity of his or her home, it’s not a cure-all. For instance, if there are any existing foundation problems due to differential settlement, installing a French drain won’t fix the issue, though it can protect your home from incurring additional damage.
Because we already wrote an article that explains what a French drain is, we’ll use this post to focus on two other important aspects; namely, why and when a French drain should be installed.
Why You Should Install a French Drain
French drains are quite popular in New England and surrounding cities particularly because they can end foundation problems resulting from poor drainage. In most New England homes, the majority of drainage problems are caused by negative grading and/or improperly designed or installed gutter systems, which fail to divert water runoff away from the foundation.
Ensuring proper drainage is one of the most important aspects of foundation maintenance. In short, proper drainage allows homeowners to maintain relatively constant moisture content in the soil around the foundation and prevent the problems that are usually caused by repeated expansion-contraction cycles.
While repeated expansion-contraction cycles could lead to differential settlement, too much water pooling around a home is one of the primary contributing factors to mold growth, wood rot, concrete spalling, and foundation heave. Any of these problems could lead to foundation failure and additional damage, such as cracks in the walls, doors, and windows that no longer open and close properly, uneven floors, sagging roofs, and tilting chimneys.
Since excess water around your home is the main culprit behind extensive damage, keeping water away from your foundation is the only way to address and prevent different types of damage that could affect your home.
In a nutshell, water can be rerouted away from your home by gutters, downspouts, positive grading, French drains, dry wells, and weeping tile systems. Gutters, downspouts, and positive grading are considered surface drainage systems, whose role is to channel surface runoff away from homes, driveways, patios, and other structures. On the other hand, French drains, dry wells, and weeping tiles are underground systems, which are meant to collect the excess water that tends to accumulate below the soil surface.
When You Should Install a French Drain
If you’ve recently noticed any foundation problems, or you just want to prevent potential foundation damage due to standing water, installing a French drain may be one of the most effective measures you could implement. More specifically, installing a French drain is recommended in the following cases:
Water pools around your home every time it rains
If you notice standing water next to your home’s foundation after every rain, or your crawl space becomes flooded when it rains heavily, a French drain could help you get rid of excess water. Although the water may still accumulate near your foundation or in the crawlspace for a short period of time—this could happen during heavy rainfall, flooding, or if your gutters, downspouts, and/or the slope around your property doesn’t divert excess water properly—the French drain will attract and collect excess water, carrying it away from your home before the ground around and under your foundation becomes saturated.
Regrading your landscape isn’t feasible
Although we cannot stress enough the importance of fixing grading issues along your foundation in order to prevent water damage, regrading a yard isn’t always possible. In that case, installing a French drain provides a simple way of removing unwanted groundwater that might otherwise accumulate around and under your foundation.
Your home is located in an area with a high water table
The groundwater level in an area can fluctuate significantly throughout the year, depending on the amount of rainfall. However, it also depends on the type of soil. Because clay soils are denser than other types of soils, the level of the water table tends to be higher in areas with clay soil. Besides causing water damage, excess groundwater can lead to soil erosion, which increases the risk of structural instability. A French drain provides a versatile system for collecting and redirecting groundwater, which can reduce soil saturation and lower the localized water table.
If you wish to install a French drain around your home in order to fix or prevent foundation problems, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts today! At DryMaster, we have been doing all sorts of foundation work, including French drain installation. Hiring a professional contractor that has the expertise and experience necessary is very important considering that a French drain will play a key role in protecting your foundation and home from damage!