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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    7

    Default French drain necessary?

    Hello,
    I'm hoping to get a little input. I have a 10 year old home with a basement. They poured concrete has some cracks that leak during heavy heavy rains, but the most water I get is just a gallon or so (a good puddle, with maybe enough water for a bath towel to dry up).

    I've consulted a few waterproofing companies and they're all over the place. Some say French drain, others say plug cracks.

    We want to add a play room to the house and would love to finish the basement. Is a French drain necessary with this amount of water? I know we looked at houses with sump pumps, and knowing it was there was a turn off for us...

    I figure the settling of the house is done by now, so repairing the cracks should do the trick (which of course is more cost effective too). But the waterproofers are saying otherwise ( and their logic makes sense, but being a realist I know they need to sell me products in order to stay in business...)


    What are your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: French drain necessary?

    Basement waterproofing can be a can of worms, an effective cure will depend upon how the basement was build in the first place. Diversion of surface water is a must, make sure that all downspouts and surface water runs away from the house.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,584

    Default Re: French drain necessary?

    If you don't keep the ground water level significantly below the concrete floor, you are going to have continuing leakage and dampness whether or not you fix those cracks. Deep basements need a perimeter drain system and sump pump to stay dry, unless in areas of the country where there is little or no ground water. You are apparently marginally at the ground water level after a rainy period. I sure wouldn't invest in fixing up a basment until the basement was guaranteed dry. Back-up battery sump pumps are not a bad idea too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: French drain necessary?

    So for safety's sake, it's a best bet....

    Now is it work best left to a professional? Or could a homeowner do it themselves? It seems like its labor intensive, but not complicated.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: French drain necessary?

    French drains are pretty easy, however, the depth and soil conditions may prohibit this project as a DIY thing. You also need to keep in mind any underground utilities and irrigation systems that may be affected by the excavation. There are a number of free "dig safe" companies (paid for by your utilities ) that will come and mark out whatever might be hiding underground for you that are WELL worth the phone call, because if you call them and hit something THEY pay for it, if you don't call them and hit something YOU pay for it. Be safe, call for help first!

    There may be specifics to your project that require professional help, such as installing a sump pump, digging below a certain grade depth (3' for a standard trencher ). Depending on your location, there may be code and permit requirements. The best place to start is to consult with a few professionals and get bids on the project. Don't be afraid to ask questions, a lot of questions.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,101

    Default Re: French drain necessary?

    A Spruce covered it well, and all I can add is that if you are digging out next to the foundation walls for a drain system, go ahead and waterproof whatever surface you expose while it's open and easy. Overkill may be reached at some point, but no effort to keep water outside away from the home where it belongs is ever a totally wasted effort.

    Phil

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: French drain necessary?

    We'll be working with interior drains. It seems the only utilities I'll be worried about is the sewer and water mains. The gas is outdoors, and the electrical is overhead. Does dig safe come inside the house to map? I can pretty much deduce where the sewer and water originate and terminate, and my gas would be overhead.

    I'd love to do exterior fixes, but I'm guessing that'll completely blow my budget out of the water (with landscaping, heavier machinery,etc).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: French drain necessary?

    I believe that Dig Safe will only do exterior surveys, but it never hurts to ask. Also, if the do find them outside for you, then you will definitely know where they enter/exit the house, which will make the interior locations easier to find as well.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,101

    Default Re: French drain necessary?

    As I've said so often before, interior french drains should be a last resort when you've done everything else to keep the water out. Yes, it's not cheap or easy to do after a house is finished, but water control and waterproofing from the outside where waterproofing belongs should be your first step.

    Phil

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Montreal Canada
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: French drain necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastercarpentry View Post
    As I've said so often before, interior french drains should be a last resort when you've done everything else to keep the water out. Yes, it's not cheap or easy to do after a house is finished, but water control and waterproofing from the outside where waterproofing belongs should be your first step.

    Phil
    I agree 100%.A interior french drain will pick up the water once it has passed under the footings. In time the soil under the footing will be washed away and major structural damage will follow.

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