French Drains, DIY, Surface Water and Sub Surface Water, French Drain, Information, Part 2

Posted: February 9, 2020 in french drain, French Drain Information, French Drain Installation
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French Drains and Surface Drains as part of Drainage System

This is a series of blogs that first explains exactly what French Drains and Surface Drains are,  and how they are used in a Drainage System.

Next, I will explain exactly what the benefits and drawbacks are of each type of drain and why you would use one type of drain over another in many different situations.

Last, I will explain the specifics of how to install your own drainage system and how to diagnose exactly what type of system you need in the first place.

At the top and bottom of every blog in this series will be a link  that you can “Click” on to easily move back and forth through the series.  If you have a question or comment, please leave it at the bottom of the page.  I will respond as quickly as I can.

Next Blog                 Previous Blog

French Drains are Perforated Pipe in a Drainage Trench with the dirt removed.  Gravel is then placed surrounding and on top of the French Drain Pipe.  Typically French Drains For Residential and Small business applications have perforated pipe that is 3 Inch, 4 Inch or 6 inch.  The larger the pipe the more water your Drainage System can handle.

I personally believe that ADS French Drain Pipe is very good.  Pvc French Drain pipe is very bad.  I have made a very good living replacing PVc French Drain Pipe with ADS French Drain Pipe.

ADS holds up over time much better.  It has a Neoprene Sock around the perforated pipe that keeps dirt from clogging the drain pipe over time.  PVc French Drain Pipe becomes brittle and cracks and deteriorates in only a few years.  It will not have a “soc” around either.  If you are not sure which one is which, Ads is Black and Pvc is white.  The choice is yours.

Anyway, Sorry! i’ll step off my soap box.

Limestone covering a French drain

Large 6 Inch French Drain

A French Drain is designed to move a large amount of water in a large area such as a yard, flower bed or on the side of a house.   They are installed in dirt and are covered with some type of crushed stone or gravel.  A trench that a French Drain is going to be installed in looks like this.

A Trench Liner can be installed in the trench as well.   It is cloth that is designed to go in the empty trench before the Perforated Pipe and the Gravel is installed.  The Trench liner can be found at most retail drainage outlets.  If you can’t find any, ” Weed Matt” in the garden section that goes in flower beds works very well.

A trench liner will increase the cost of a French Drain.  Many times they are not necessary.  Sometimes they are very necessary.

A Trench Liner will maintain the integrity of the Drainage Trench over time.  But, If you have a “Sub Surface Water Problem they may impede how well your French Drain Works.

Don’t worry, It will make more sense as you read this blog and ones that follow.

A completed French Drain looks like this.

river rock french drain

French Drain covered with River Rock.

Moving a large volume of water is not the only reason to install a French Drain.

When Diagnosing a Drainage Problem, the first thing to consider is how does the water get into the Problem Drainage Area.  The most obvious way is by flowing over the top of the ground.  This is called “Surface Water.”  Water comes from somewhere else by flowing over the ground.

I know that’s overly simple but right now its necessary.

French Drains do a Great Job in moving Surface Water away from the flooded area.  For example, the water flows out of my neighbors yard, down the hill and into mine.  It then runs into my French Drain, Then into the drain pipe, it then moves through the drain pipe to the exit point at the curb outlet  and into the street.

( Simple Enough)  Ahh, but there is more!

The thing that people miss, don’t anticipate, and don’t understand, is “Sub-Surface Water.”  Sub-surface water is not accounted for many times, in the design of a Drainage System.

OK, Think about the example above again, only this time the water is flowing underground as well as over the surface.  So, in fact, you have at least two sources of water feeding your Drainage Problem Area.

Why is that important?

Surface Drains are not designed to move “Sub-Surface Water.”  Just as the name says, Surface Drains move Surface Water.

Many times a Surface Drain is installed out in a yard to solve a drainage problem instead of a French Drain.

Surface Drain Connection

Surface Drain connected to a Transition Pipe

Don’t get me wrong, Surface Drains are great!  I have installed literally thousands of them since 1993.  They do an awesome job when they are installed for the right reasons.  Problem is they do absolutely nothing to drain “Sub Surface Water”.  In later blogs we will discuss the correct application of a Surface Drain.

Back to the French Drain.  A French Drain can take in water topically. ( In the top of the drain) It also can take water in Laterally. ( Through the Sides underground)

So you must determine before installing a Drainage System,  how the water gets into the problem drainage area.

Is it Surface Water?  Sub-Surface water? Or Both?  Our next blog will discuss this.

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Comments
  1. […] 1993 we have gained a lot of experience addressing drainage problems.  Drainage problems can be complicated.  The solution is not always clear to the untrained eye. We have repaired or […]

  2. […] are just a few of the Problems we are asked to solve when fixing a Drainage System that wasn’t designed […]

  3. […] in a Drainage System to be located in smaller Drainage Areas moving moderate amounts of water.  Surface Drains look better than French Drains.  If ,”appearance” is more important than Drainage […]

  4. […] French Drains, DIY, Surface Water and Sub Surface Water, French Drain, Information, Part 2 February 9, 2020French Drains and Surface Drains as part of Drainage System This is a series of blogs that first explains exactly what French Drains and Surface Drains are,  and how they are used in a Drainage System. Next, I will explain exactly what the benefits and drawbacks are of each type of drain and why you […] blanecallen […]

  5. […] French Drains, DIY, Surface Water and Sub Surface Water, French Drain, Information, Part 2 February 9, 2020French Drains and Surface Drains as part of Drainage System This is a series of blogs that first explains exactly what French Drains and Surface Drains are,  and how they are used in a Drainage System. Next, I will explain exactly what the benefits and drawbacks are of each type of drain and why you […] blanecallen […]

  6. […] dictate whether grass grows over the lime stone.  Grass can grow up and through the gravel in the French Drain over time eventually covering the gravel.  This is Ok.  It won’t have a measurable effect […]

  7. […] grass seed down in the gravel will speed up the process. DON’T COVER THE GRAVEL IN THE FRENCH DRAIN WITH DIRT.  THE FRENCH DRAIN WON’T WORK IF THE TRENCH IS CLOGGED WITH DIRT.  DON’T […]

  8. […] to you!  If the higher cost and the additional labor and materials are not a problem and 6 inch French Drain pipe is not too big for what you want to do then a 6 inch French Drain would be the best.   […]

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