Archive for the ‘french drain’ Category


Don’t despair! We provide Sprinkler Repair.

OK the rhyme is a little lame but it is no reflection on the quality of service or the level of expertise that we provide.

Oklahoma Drainage and Sprinkler Repair has been providing Expert Sprinkler Repair since 1993.  During that time we have seen it all and done it all where residential Sprinkler Repair is concerned.

We service all of Central and Western Oklahoma.

1 SPRINKLER VALVE

Replacing Broken Sprinkler Valve in Norman.

If you need a Sprinkler Head moved, adjusted, repaired or replaced we can handle the job.

If you have any type of problem with your sprinkler valves we can provide the solution.

Sprinkler Controller trouble?  No Problem.  We service all brands and models.

 

Many times Sprinkler Wires get damaged or cut.  Sprinkler Wiring runs underground from the Sprinkler Valves to the Sprinkler Controller.  Many times the wires become damaged when digging is done in your yard.  Installing new phone lines for example causes cuts in Sprinkler Wire.

If the phone lines are installed during the winter when the Sprinkler System is not being used, you may not realize that you have a problem until the following spring.

Finding cut sprinkler wiring can be very difficult.  This is one area where there is no substitute for experience.

Oklahoma Drainage and Sprinkler Repair has been finding Cut Sprinkler Wires and fixing them since 1993.

Installing in-line drains in a sprinkler system is a service that we also provide.  Many times a sprinkler system has no drains put in when the Sprinkler System is first installed.

We are happy to install them for you.

An in-line sprinkler drain automatically drains all the water out of the Sprinkler Pipes immediately after your sprinkler system runs.  This relieves stress on the pipes and joints and also prevents pipes from freezing and breaking because there is still water in your system from last summer.  SPRINKLER PIPES CAN’T FREEZE IF THERE IS NO WATER IN THEM.

 


When Installing a Drainage System, What kind of Drain Pipe do you use and what size Drain Pipe Do you need?

For a Drainage System you have 3 Choices of Drain Pipe.  You can use ADS,  Or Sewer and Drain, or Thick Walled Pvc Pipe.

ADS is Black and Flexible.  It is used in a majority of Drainage Systems.  It works well and is the easiest to install.

Covering

Covering ADS Drain Pipe

ADS is available in 3 inch , 4 inch, and 6 inch for residential and small business Drainage Applications.

Sewer and Drain Pipe is white, green, or grey and is thin walled.  It is used for cheap plumbing applications such as sewer lines.  It is also used for inexpensive Drainage Systems.  A Drainage System using Sewer and Drain Pipe is slightly cheaper than ADS.   It is rigid and harder to install than ADS. It takes more time to install and more digging is required at the joints or connections.  It is very difficult attaching a rigid Drain Pipe to a Curb outlet because the Pipe does not flex at the connection.  The pipe hits the curb outlet at a downward angle and does line up straight with the connection.  Many Drain Installation Companies use a piece of ADS on the end of the Sewer and Drain pipe and then connect it to the curb outlet.  Many times there is no other way to connect them depending on your downward slope.

 

Sewer and Drain

Green or White Sewer and Drain Pipe

Sewer and Drain is brittle after a short amount of time.  You can break it with a hammer.   Tree roots, many times squeeze the pipe and crack it causing it to leak.   It is not a good long term solution for anything.

Old Sewer and Drain Pipe

Old Sewer and Drain Pipe

Thick walled PVC is superior to ADS and Sewer and Drain.  It will last a lifetime.  It won’t crack under normal circumstances.

That being said, It is The most difficult of all to install.  It is not for weekend warriors or your brother-in-law who says he knows what he is doing.  Someone with a lot of experience is needed to install a Thick Walled PVC Drainage System.

SD and 40 schedule

40 Schedule PVC Drain Pipe on the right, Sewer and Drain on the left.

Oh, by the way, 40 Schedule or 200 Class PVC is by far the most expensive.

If money is no object, then absolutely hire an Expert to install a Thick walled PVC System.

There are two types of Thick Walled Pvc Pipe available for Drainage Systems, 40 Schedule and 200 class.

Forty Schedule is always the same thickness at a particular size pipe.

Two Hundred Class gets thicker as the pipe gets bigger.

Forty Schedule is thicker in pipes smaller than 2 inch.

Two hundred Class is thicker in pipes over 2 inch.

Typically 4 inch pipe is most commonly used in a Drainage Systems.  Forty Schedule and 200 Class are both very good in the 4 inch Size.

 

The size of Drain Pipe you use in your Drainage System is fairly simple.  You can use 3 Inch, 4 Inch, or 6 Inch.  Sometimes 2 inch can be used on a small single drain but it is easily overwhelmed by too much water.

Four Inch, as stated earlier is the most common size used in a Drainage System.

If your system is a Drainage System and not a Flood Prevention System, then 4 Inch Should be fine for most applications.

If your drainage system must handle a lot of water in a hurry and is designed intercept water to protect property then two 4 inch pipes may be needed or one 6 inch Pipe.  It can vary.

In 2015 we installed a Flood Prevention System that had two 6 inch pipes in the same trench.  Our customer never had water in her garage again.

If you can afford larger Drain Pipe or more than one Drain Pipe in the same trench, your Drainage System should do its job well.

If you connect 5 large Surface Drains to one small 3 inch pipe, be prepared for poor performance.  I’ve seen a large French Drain connected to a 3 inch pipe.  The water shot out of the exit point like a cannon and the problem drainage area stayed flooded for a long time.

I try not to use 3 inch at all for a Drainage System and I am very careful not to attach too large or too many drains to 4 inch.


French Drains and all types of Drainage Systems involves digging Drainage Trenches and Installing Drain Pipes.  One issue that must be addressed is Slope or Fall” of the of the Drain Pipe in the Drainage Trench.   The Drain Pipe must run downhill to the exit point to move the water away from the problem area.

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drain trench

Drainage Trench Running Downhill

In many cases slope is easy to determine if the distance from the drain to the exit is obliviously down hill.   The trouble is installing a French Drain or a Drainage System where the drain pipe is not always on a pronounced slope.  A slight slope can be hard to see. If the ground looks level then the water won’t flow very quickly, If at all.  If the entrance drain is slightly higher than the exit, say only a few inches, then the water will flow across level ground to the exit point.  Problem is, the water will move very slowly as long as water is still coming into the French Drain.  It pushes the water in front of it out of the exit very slowly.  Movement will stop when water stops coming into the Drain.  It will stay in the pipe and just sit there till the next time it rains.

If you are Installing a Drainage System across level ground, it will never drain very well.

If you are not sure if a Drainage System is possible because there might not be enough Slope,  there is a simple test you can run.  This test takes a good bit of digging.

Start digging the trench where the drain pipe will run.   Lets say for example that its about 60 feet.  Start digging where the drain will be.  Typically a 4 inch drain pipe will need to be installed in a trench 8 to 16 inches deep, depending on your needs.  Dig about 10 feet from where the drain will be toward the exit point.  Once you have dug a trench at least 8 inches deep, and about 10 feet long toward the exit,  Take a hose and place it in the trench where the drain will be installed. There should not be pipe in the trench at this time, just the empty trench.

Turn on the hose so a small amount of water is coming out.  The water will start to flow down the trench from where the drain will be, toward the exit.  Again there is no drain pipe in the trench.

trench water test

Water test for a Drain Pipe

Watch the water as it flows down the Drainage Trench.   In some areas it will flow quickly which is good.  Look for areas where water flows more slowly and begins to pool.  Once this occurs, turn off the hose and get your shovel.  With water still in the trench, dig downhill from the pooling spot.  Remove the dirt that is slowing the waters flow toward the exit.  Repeat this process until you have reached the exit point of the Drainage System.

This may seem like a lot of unnecessary work.  Believe me it is worth it.  Once the water flows at a fairly steady rate all the way to the exit, you have ” Set the Flow of the Drain.”

This process is called “Setting The flow.”

There are benefits to taking this process seriously.

First it will tell you if the flow is even possible for the Drainage System that you want to install.  If you can’t get the water to flow to the Exit Point Cover up your Drainage Trench and Consider Other Options because this particular Drainage Design will not work.  If you can redesign your system by moving your drain pipe or your exit point, then do so.  A Sump Pump may be your only option if moving the drain pipe or the exit does not improve things.   Sump Pumps will be covered in a future blog.

Second, If you were successful in setting the flow, then you will roughly know how fast the water will flow in your Drainage System.  It will give you a “Worse Case Scenario” for your Drain’s Performance.

Water will always flow better and faster and more efficiently in a Drain Pipe, than in a trench.

If the water is flowing pretty good in the Drainage Trench without a Drain Pipe in it yet, then it will flow even better once the Drain Pipe is installed.

This process is much better than blindly digging a drainage trench and installing a Drainage System.  It will keep you from installing something that doesn’t work!

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Before you ever build a Drainage System,  you need to decide where you are going to take the problem water too.   Most residential Drainage Systems release water farther on down the hill, or release it out into the street.  Street release is either over the curb or through the curb.

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It is a good idea to do a little research on the effects and liabilities of releasing water at your home.  What does the city think if you release water through the curb vs over the curb?  What does your downhill neighbor think if you are releasing water into his yard?

Some Drainage System Locations have many options for ” Exits.”  Others have vary few.

Don’t Start a Drainage System if you don’t have a good place for the water to exit!

This is even more important, if your Drainage System needs to be a “Flood Prevention System.”  We talked about this in the previous blogs on Drainage.

A Flood Prevention System may need more than one exit to increase the Drainage Systems Capacity.

 

OK, So you have a good Water Exit Strategy and have identified where the water is going to go.

Lets go back and talk about Pop Up Emitters and Curb Outlets.

A Pop Up emitter is used to release water down a hill or over a curb and into the street.

Pop up emitter next to sidewalk

Popup Emitter to release water from a French Drain in Yukon

 

 

Pop up emitter and ADS

Pop-Up Emitter before Installation

Water hits the Emitter and fills it until the water pressure lifts the lid and the water drains out.

Good “Fall” or ” Slope” is necessary for a pop up emitter to work properly.  Many times a Drainage Pipe does not run down hill enough for a Drainage System to work well. You need “Slope” for your drain to work.   Water may move very slowly and never lift the lid and it just sits there.

We will talk about having the correct amount of “Fall” or “Slope” in a Drainage System in the next blog.

Curb fittings or outlets is the other way to release water.

 

cement curb outlet

Curb Outlet as an Exit Point for a French Drain in Edmond

First off,  For your average DIY Guy.  Installing a Curb outlet may be beyond your skill set or capacity.  If that is the case just place a Pop Up Emitter up against the curb and go on about your business.

That being said, you may still want or need a Curb Outlet set in concrete.

If you are good with concrete and a concrete saw, this option poses no problem.  If this option seems too much for you, it probably is!  Consider sub contracting the curb outlet.  In higher populated areas, finding someone to do “Light” concrete work is relatively easy.  You sill can save money by installing the rest of the Drainage System yourself.

If you are sill going to install the “Curb Outlet,” here are the steps for a “First Timer.”

Step 1  Find a Curb outlet fitting.  They are round on one side where the drain pipe connects and rectangular on the other to fit in the cut out area for the Curb outlet.

Curb outlet fitting

Curb outlet fitting

They are sold in many Drainage Supply Businesses.  You may not find them at “Lowes” or ” Home Depot”.  It varies.  If a Specialized Drain Supply business is not available then use a “Heat and Air” Floor vent as your curb outlet.  They are made of metal in most cases but still will work very well.  I have done this many times.  The floor vent is typically wider and thinner than a standard Curb Outlet Fitting.  Just cut a wider hole in the curb.

Step 2 Watch an instructional safety video on using a concrete saw.

Step 3 Rent or buy a concrete saw.  A used one can be found in pawn shops for about 300$ to 600$.  A New one will run around a Thousand Dollars.

a Rental will run about 50$ to 150$ depending on your area.

Step 4  Find a Curb outlet that matches the size of your Pipe.  If you have a 4 inch Drain pipe then install a 4 inch curb outlet.   Sometimes a Six inch Curb outlet is too big to install in many roadside curbs.  It is too tall in many cases.  In most situations if you want a curb outlet and have a Six inch Drain Pipe, you must install two 4 inch outlets side by side.

If you have the need for a six inch Drain Pipe,  that means you have a lot of water to move.  You don’t want to create a bottle neck at the curb by installing a 4 inch curb fitting as your exit on a Six Inch Drain Pipe.

What you need to do is dig a large hole at the curb so you have room to work.  Next you attach a 6 inch “Y” fitting onto your drain pipe above the curb several feet.  You then install Two Reducer Bushings in both outlets of the “Y” fitting.  Next you attach 4 Inch ADS Drain Pipe to the outlets and run two 4 inch ADS Drain pipes to the Curb.  Now you install two 4 inch curb fittings side by side.

It is very important to use ADS Pipe coming out of the 6 Inch “Y” fitting.  It is Flexible and can be easily bent to fit your application.   PVc Pipe is rigid and won’t bend.  Very few people can do this process using PVC.  In 26 Years of installing Drains, I have only done it 3 times using PVc.  It is very Difficult and Frustrating.

Step 5 Watch a Video on Light Concrete Work if available.

Step 6 Connect the curb fitting to the drain pipe and install cement around it.  I have had the most success using a ” Quick Set” concrete that comes in a small bucket and has an “Acrylic” Additive or Base.

I don’t recommend cutting the curb yourself and installing a curb outlet if you are only going to do this once in your life.  If you are are or will become a drainage contractor, then this is a skill that you definitely need.

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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 listing of all the connecting blogs that you can “Click” on to easily move back and forth through the series.

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Problem Drainage Area

This is a good spot for a French Drain

A final thought on Intakes as part of a Drainage System.  Remember, an Intake is a French Drain or a Surface Drain.  It is the part of the Drainage System that draws water into the Drain Pipe.

Once you have decided where and  how many Intakes your drainage system needs,( how many and what kind of Drains ) the next thing to think about is the Transition other wise known as the Drain Pipe.  For a typical Drainage System there are three choices of Drain Pipe by Size.  ( 3 Inch, 4 Inch, and 6 Inch )

Three inch is least expensive but can easily be overwhelmed if a large amount of water needs to be drained away.

Four inch is by far the most common.  It also can be overwhelmed if too many Intakes (Drains) are connected to it.

Six Inch Drain Pipe is almost never overwhelmed, but it is bulky and hard to work with and is by far the most expensive.

4 inch Drain pipe

4 Inch Drain Pipe before it goes in the trench

What Do I mean by overwhelmed?  It means that water is going to the Problem Drainage Area faster than the Pipe can move it away.

This is very important to some people and not important at all to others.  Here is why!

house flood

This is a great place for a French Drain

Really, think for a minute about why you want to install a Drain in the first place.

Do you want to prevent water from ever reaching Problem Drainage Area?  Or is it OK for water to reach the Problem Drainage Area and then be drained away over time.

If, for example, you are trying to protect your prize plants, you don’t want flood water reaching them at all.  Or you might be trying to prevent water from reaching part of your house because it then runs into the basement.  You don’t want water, under any circumstances,  to reach a specific spot or area.   If this is the case,  You want a

Flood Prevention System

A Flood Prevention System is actually a type of Drainage System, However the goal is different and that can change the Design.

On the other hand if you don’t mind so much if water gets into the Problem Drainage Area,  you just want it to drain away in a relatively short amount of time.   This is called a

Drainage System

If your motivation is to have a Flood Prevention System,  Then the Drain Pipe being overwhelmed is a really bad thing.  It means that your Flood Prevention System has failed.  Your Drain Pipe could not move the water fast enough to provide the Safety that you desire.   Your plants have drowned and your basement has flooded.

If your motivation is to have a Drainage System, Then the Drain Pipe being overwhelmed is not so bad.  Even though water is flowing into the Problem Drainage Area faster than the Drain Pipe can take it away,  The Drain Pipe is still moving a lot of water and eventually the rain will stop and the Drain Pipe will catch up.  In relatively a short amount of time, the water will be gone.

What you want, dictates how you design your Drainage System!

Drainage Systems are not as robust as Flood Prevention Systems.  A Flood Prevention System has all the same basic concepts and structure as a regular drainage system, just more!

If you want a Flood Prevention System, the goal is to intercept water before it runs somewhere.

This means:

  1.  More Intakes ( Lots of Drains) French Or Surface
  2.  Larger Drains,  6 inch French Drains, or 18 inch Surface Drains for example
  3.  Larger Transitions ( Larger Drain Pipe )
  4.  More Transitions (  More Drain Pipes )
  5.  Larger Drainage Exits
  6.  More Drainage Exits

I know we haven’t talked about Drainage Exits, but we will in the next blog.

A Drainage System is less of everything listed above.

Obviously a Drainage System is less expensive, less evasive, and easier to install.

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When Determining what type of Drain you need for your Drainage System.  In our last blog, we talked about Surface Water and Sub-Surface water and why you need to understand them before designing your Drainage System.  If you need to review, click below.  If you have a question or comment please leave it at the bottom of the page. I will respond as quickly as I can.

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Before we get into Water Movement, we need to discuss Surface Drains.

Surface Drains come in many shapes and sizes.  The two most common are Basin Drains and Channel Drains.

A Basin Drain has a Square Grate and it sits on top of a catch basin.  It will have a single pipe connected to it or it will have a drain pipe running into it and a pipe running out of it.  We used this picture in a previous blog, but I want to show it to you again.

Surface Drain Connection

Surface Drain connected to a Transition Pipe

Below is a Basin before the pipe is connected to both sides.  The pipe is cut and connected to one side.   Another piece of Drain Pipe is connected to the other side.  The Drain pipe does not run straight through the basin.  Water must have a way to enter the Drain Pipe.  The Surface Drain in the picture is the most common size used in residential applications.  The Drain Pipe connecting to it is 4 inch ADS Solid Drain Pipe.

For a Surface Drain to work well it must be placed in a low lying area of standing water.  It is not intended to intercept moving water or to drain away Sub-Surface water.

 

In review, detecting Surface Water is straight forward.  You can observe how it flows into the Problem Drainage Area.

Sub-Surface water is not so easy.  You can’t see it move into the problem area.  So What do you do?

First take a look at your soil.  What type of soil do you have?

Soil with a lot of clay will have less Sub-Surface Water, Maybe none at all.  If you do have some it will move into the area slowly.  If you have sandy soil the underground water will move there in a hurry.  Most people will have something in between.

To be sure, a few simple tests can help.

Next check the problem drainage area when there is no water standing in it.  Is it soft and mushy when the surrounding area is more firm?  This is an indication that Sub-Surface Water is still flowing into the area.  Another way to collect information is to dig a small hole about a foot deep in the area. Check it every day for several days.  If water is standing in the hole, you have a Sub-Surface Water issue.  How fast it flows into the hole is also important.

OK, you have Sub-Surface water along with Surface Water in your problem drainage area.  Your Choice for the correct “Intake” for your Drainage System should be a French Drain.

OK, You have no Sub-Surface water. You only have Surface Water flowing into the problem area.  You need a French Drain If you are trying to intercept the water as it comes into the area.  Many times water will run around the surface drain and still flood the area.  Also the Surface Drain is much more easily overwhelmed and water will run past it that way too.  Again, this is very important,  If you are trying to intercept water before it gets to where its going, don’t use a Surface Drain.

A Surface Drain should be used in a Medium to Low Volume Water situation.  The water needs to be stationary or moving very slowly.  It should be placed in an area that is the lowest point in the Problem Drainage area.  They also work well in smaller confined areas such as pool decks, along sidewalks, or in flower beds.

More than one Surface Drain can be connected to one drain pipe in a “Daisy Chain” of Drains if you have several low spots in a larger area.

In many cases a small french drain can be installed in almost every place that a Surface Drain might be installed.  People opt for a Surface Drain over a French Drain because they like the way the Surface Drain looks more than the way the French Drain looks.  For some People, Looks are more important than functionality.

Channel drain in concrete

Channel drain in concrete

Setting a Surface Drain in Concrete such as a driveway or a Sidewalk is a good application for a Surface Drain.  Many times it is better to install a French Drain in your yard over a Surface Drain.  What ever makes you happy!

French Drains can be made to look very decorative.

decorative french drain

French Drains can be decorated with many types of stone

In conclusions,

French Drains are used for :  1.  Higher water volume situations  2.  Intercepting moving Surface Water  3.  Solving Sub-Surface water problems

Surface Drains are used for: 1.  Smaller water volume situations  2.  Standing Surface Water that has reached its destination   3.  Smaller and more confined areas  4.  Set in concrete such as sidewalks or Driveways

 

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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.

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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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French Drains and Surface Drains as part of Drainage Systems

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 listing of all the connecting blogs that you can “Click” on to easily move back and forth through the series.

Next Blog

A French Drain is just a part of a Drainage System.  Many people refer to basically any type of Drain in or around their home as a French Drain.  This actually in not correct.

 

Before you can really understand what a French Drain is, you first must be familiar with a Drainage System and what it involves.

A Drainage System has three parts.  It has an “Intake” to bring water into the Drainage System.  It is placed in a low area where water is standing or is in area where water sometimes runs across it over the surface or under the surface or both.  An “Intake” will be a French Drain, Surface Drain or Sump Pump.

In a Simple Drainage System there will only be One “Intake.”  In a Complex Drainage System there will be several Intakes.  They may vary in type and size.  For Example, You may have a Drainage System with a Surface Drain, and a French Drain and a Sump Pump all as separate  Intakes in the Drainage System.  The Intakes will vary in number and type depending on what water issues you are trying to fix.

The “Transition” is the second part of the Drainage System which is the Drain Pipe that moves the water out of the area that is flooded.  It is your water “High Way, ” as it were.  Typically there are two types of Transition Drain Pipes that will be covered later.

Finally you have an “Exit” which releases the water from the drainage system.  It must be in an area that is lower than the French Drain or Surface Drain that is you “Intake.”

 

 

A French Drain  is a perforated pipe that is basically full of slits or holes.  A trench is dug across the problem drainage area.  The dirt from the trench is hauled away.  The perforated pipe is placed in the trench.  The Drainage trench is dug deep enough so that the perforated French Drain Pipe is several inches below ground level when placed in the trench.  Next gravel or some type of crushed stone is placed on top and around the French Drain perforated pipe until the trench is full.

 

Once a French Drain is completed you will see gravel on the surface in a place where dirt use to be.

A French Drain is designed to take in and move a large amount of water.  It covers a large area with water standing on or moving across the area.  It needs to have some “Slope” or “Fall” to drain the water.  The pipe needs to run down hill to the exit point to release it from the Drainage System.  If it is up hill in all directions from the French Drain then there is a problem.  We all know that water will not flow up hill.  Some times this can be overcome when it is only slightly up hill by digging the trench deeper as you go up hill.  Still the exit point in the Drainage System must be lower than the French Drain where the water is taken into the drainage system, or the water will never drain.

In conclusion, a French Drain is a perforated Pipe in a trench covered in gravel.  It is the “Intake” part of a Drainage System.  It covers a wide area and needs to be higher than the exit point of the Drainage System.

This is the first in a series of blogs about French Drains and all other types of Drains as well.  If you would like to learn more just Click on the “Next Blog” below.

Next Drain Blog


French Drain Installation Or Do You Need A Surface Drain?

Many Folks don’t know the difference.   Actually there are many differences and a few similarities.  One difference is, a French Drain takes in a larger amount of water into the drain Pipe than a Surface Drain.  There are advantages to Surface Drains as well.

 

A French Drain Is a Perforated Drain Pipe in a Trench with Gravel or Limestone covering the trench with the pipe.  Many times there is a “Sock” around the pipe to act as a filter.

Oklahoma Drainage and Sprinkler Repair — Installing – French Drains – Surface Drains – Channel Drains – Sump Pumps

Providing Expert Sprinkler RepairBroken Sprinkler Pipes Sprinkler Head AdjustmentSprinkler Valve Replacement

Servicing all of Central and Western Oklahoma since 1993.

French Drains as part of a Drainage System – 

Many times people use the term ” French Drain” as general name for a Drain used in or around your home.  French Drains are designed to move a lot of water over a large flooded area.  They are also designed to take water in on the surface of the ground or below the surface of the ground.  This is very important if the water coming into the flooded area is moving through the ground or coming up from underneath.  ” Sub Surface Water Movement.”  The picture below is not a French Drain!

A French Drain looks like this

A French Drain Can Handle Standing Water

A French Drain can take in water in a broad area.  It can move a much larger volume of water compared to a Surface Drain.  Also, it can move sub surface water moving into the area where a Surface Drain won’t move any water at all.

Surface Drains are designed to move surface water only on a smaller scale in confined areas.

Each solves specific drainage problems.  A Drainage System may use one or both together or even several using many types of drains.

Do you have standing water in a large area in your yard?  Typically this calls for a French Drain.  A French Drain is a great way to control standing water in a large grassy area.  It can also protect areas from flooding to a certain degree.  As long as the French Drains capacity to move water is not exceeded.  If the French Drains capacity is exceeded then water will stand in the drainage area until the rain stops and the drain has time to catch up.  A good way to prevent this is to install a bigger French Drain with a larger pipe.  The difference between a 3 inch French Drain and a 6 inch French Drain is huge.

Another way to beef up a French Drain is to connect gutter down spouts in front of the French Drain.  The water coming off the roof causes suction in the French Drain Behind it.  This greatly increases the French Drains ability to move water without increasing the size of the French Drain Pipe.

Gutter Downspout Connected to 6 Inch French Drain

 

Oklahoma Drainage and Sprinkler Repair recently diagnosed a Drainage Problem in  South Oklahoma City.  The Home owner had a sump Pump in their basement that was fed from a French Drain outside the Basement Wall.  The French Drain was 14 feet down along the Stem wall of the house.  The French Drain Pipe was cheap and had collapsed.  We brought in a Mini Excavator and dug up the pipe and replaced it with Durable ADS 4 inch perf/soc French Drain pipe.  In the end, we were able to dig up the pipe and Replace it.

New Trench for French Drain

Next we installed a new exit for the water by installing a curb fitting.

No more flooding in the customers basement.  A few weeks later our customer was able to lay carpet in the basement with no problems.

French Drain Installed Along Stem Wall

 

Installing Drainage Curb Fitting for a French Drain in South Oklahoma City

 

Curb Fitting with Acrylic Cement For French Drain

 

FRENCH DRAIN  CONNECTED TO GUTTERS

Many different types of Drains can be hooked together by one Drain Pipe.  The Drain Pipe then running to an Exit Point makes up a Drainage System.  One common type of Drain used in a Drainage System is A “French Drain.”  Many times a French Drain is installed close to a building foundation or in a low area next to a home or business.  This puts the French Drain in close proximity to Gutter Down Spouts.  Rather than have water come off the roof and out the Down Spout and on to the ground below, many times it is much better to tie a Gutter Down Spout Directly into a French Drain or near by Drain Pipe depending on the Drainage System Design.   Connecting The Down Spouts Directly into a French Drain is much  more efficient and causes suction to occur in the French Drain.  Connection of Gutter Down Spouts to a French Drain makes the Drainage System work better.

Do you have water standing in your yard after a hard rain? Does your sidewalk become a moat during a thunder-storm? Is standing water causing your foundation to deteriorate and break down? Is water seeping into your home and causing mold?

Storm-water run off can cause many types of problems. Oklahoma Drainage and Sprinkler Repair can diagnose your drainage issues and design a Drainage System to fit your specific needs. We install many types of drains including: French Drains, Channel Drains, Surface Drains, Basin Drains, Trench Drains, Basement Drains, and Sump Pumps.

colored drain gravel

Colored Gravel covering a French Drain


French Drain Installation Or Do You Need A Surface Drain?

Many Folks don’t know the difference.   Actually there are many differences and a few similarities.  One difference is, a French Drain takes in a larger amount of water into the drain Pipe than a Surface Drain.  There are advantages to Surface Drains as well.

Oklahoma Drainage and Sprinkler Repair — Installing – French Drains – Surface Drains – Channel Drains – Sump Pumps

Providing Expert Sprinkler RepairBroken Sprinkler Pipes Sprinkler Head AdjustmentSprinkler Valve Replacement

Servicing all of Central and Western Oklahoma since 1993.

Oklahoma Drainage and Sprinkler Repair recently diagnosed a Drainage Problem in  South Oklahoma City.  The Home owner had a sump Pump in their basement that was fed from a French Drain outside the Basement Wall.  The French Drain was 14 feet down along the Stem wall of the house.  The French Drain Pipe was cheap and had collapsed.  We brought in a Mini Excavator and dug up the pipe and replaced it with Durable ADS 4 inch perf/soc French Drain pipe.  In the end, we were able to dig up the pipe and Replace it.

French Drain Detail

New Trench for French Drain

Next we installed a new exit for the water by installing a curb fitting.

No more flooding in the customers basement.  A few weeks later our customer was able to lay carpet in the basement with no problems.

French Drain side of House

French Drain Installed Along Stem Wall

 

Installing Drainage Curb Fitting for a French Drain in South Oklahoma City

 

curb cement outlet

Curb Fitting with Acrylic Cement For French Drain

 

FRENCH DRAIN  CONNECTED TO GUTTERS

Many different types of Drains can be hooked together by one Drain Pipe.  The Drain Pipe then running to an Exit Point makes up a Drainage System.  One common type of Drain used in a Drainage System is A “French Drain.”  Many times a French Drain is installed close to a building foundation or in a low area next to a home or business.  This puts the French Drain in close proximity to Gutter Down Spouts.  Rather than have water come off the roof and out the Down Spout and on to the ground below, many times it is much better to tie a Gutter Down Spout Directly into a French Drain or near by Drain Pipe depending on the Drainage System Design.   Connecting The Down Spouts Directly into a French Drain is much  more efficient and causes suction to occur in the French Drain.  Connection of Gutter Down Spouts to a French Drain makes the Drainage System work better.

Do you have water standing in your yard after a hard rain? Does your sidewalk become a moat during a thunder-storm? Is standing water causing your foundation to deteriorate and break down? Is water seeping into your home and causing mold?

Storm-water run off can cause many types of problems. Oklahoma Drainage and Sprinkler Repair can diagnose your drainage issues and design a Drainage System to fit your specific needs. We install many types of drains including: French Drains, Channel Drains, Surface Drains, Basin Drains, Trench Drains, Basement Drains, and Sump Pumps.

gravel colored

Colored Gravel for a French Drain

Oklahoma Drainage and Sprinkler Repair — Installing – French Drains – Surface Drains – Channel Drains – Sump Pumps

Providing Expert Sprinkler RepairBroken Sprinkler Pipes Sprinkler Head AdjustmentSprinkler Valve Replacement

Servicing all of Central and Western Oklahoma since 1993.

Just what is a “French Drain?” Many times people incorrectly

French drain in grass
A French Drain can protect your foundation!

use the phrase, “French Drain,” when they mean “Surface Drain” or “Channel Drain.”

A basic French Drain consists of a Perforated Drain Pipe in the bottom of a trench. The French Drain Trench runs through a Problem Drainage Area that needs to be drained.   The French Drain Pipe is perforated (Full of Small Holes) and has Neo-Prene Soc around the pipe.  This soc helps prevent debris from clogging the French Drain Pipe.

Perforated French Drain Pipe

The dirt that was taken out to make the trench is hauled away. It is replaced by some type of small stone or gravel depending on what is desired or available. I prefer crushed 1 inch lime stone. It is the most economical option in my area. Pea Gravel or some other type of small stone can work just as well. The lime-stone or gravel is placed in the trench on top of the perforated Drain Pipe and filled all the way to the surface (ground level). In some cases where the French Drain needs to be deep or is being placed in sandy soil, a special trench liner must be placed in the trench before the perforated Drain Pipe or the Gravel are installed. This helps maintain the integrity of the trench over time. It also increases the cost of the French Drain and the amount of time to install it. I install a trench liner in a French Drain about 20% of the time. Most of the time a liner in not needed.

French Drain is designed to handle a large volume of water and cover a large area. The Drain is anyplace the trench goes. It has many applications and can be used in many situations. It can be installed by itself or incorporated into a Drainage System with Surface Drains or Gutter Down-Spouts connected to it.

French Drain with Colored Gravel

The main downfall of a French Drain is that they, for the most part aren’t very pretty. They don’t look very nice in a yard once they are completed.

Depending on the area the French Drain is installed and the type of grass around the French Drain, will 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 on the performance of the drain.

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 EVEN INSTALL IT IF YOU ARE GOING TO COVER IT UP WITH DIRT.

DECORATIVE STONE CAN BE USED TO COVER A FRENCH DRAIN AND THEY LOOK GREAT AND LAST A LIFETIME.

Drainage Systems can be made up of one drain or a combination of many drains.  Drainage  problems can be very complex.   Complex Drainage Problems may require a combination of several different types of drains all inter-connected and working together. Many times a French Drain, might be connected to a Surface Drain,  which then could be connected to another French Drain.   Other times the drainage problem may be simple and straight-forward requiring only one drain or several of the same type of drain connected together.

Cutting The Curb and Installing Curb Fitting With Acrylic Cement
Cutting The Curb for French Drain Outlet

An example of a complex drainage system would be:  A French Drain in the back yard connected to a Surface Drain near a flower bed connected to several gutter downspouts, which are connected to a Channel Drain going across a driveway, which is connected to additional French Drain in the front yard, which runs to a Curb Fitting that lets all the water drain out on to the street.

A simple Drainage System might consist of a French Drain  which runs to a Pop-up Emitter which lets water drain over the curb and into the street.

An “Exit Point” is the term used for where all the water leaves the Drainage System.  Determining the Exit Point is very critical.  It is one of the first things we do when diagnosing a Drainage Problem.

Drainage Systems can:

1.  Keep water away from foundations — A French Drain is best because it can move Surface Water and Sub-Surface Water (water moving under ground) away from the foundation.  Many times less experienced companies install Surface Drains to keep water away from foundations.  This can be a big mistake.  A Surface Drain can’t move or drain Sub-Surface Water.   Also A Surface Drain often can’t move enough water fast enough and easily becomes overwhelmed during a heavy rain.  A Surface Drain also can’t cover or protect a broad enough area. Surface Drains should be designed 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 Capacity, Go with the Surface Drain.  Just know what you are getting into and what your expectations should be. One side of a foundation alone,  can be over 100 feet.  A 4 inch or 6 inch French Drain is best when protecting a large area such as a foundation.

2.  Keep water away from small or enclosed areas.  This might be a low area just through a gate on the side of a house, or the low area between a flowerbed and the wall of a house, or standing water on or near a sidewalk or driveway.  These types of Drainage Problems are best served with Surface Drains.  A Surface Drain can move water away from a low area that is relatively small.  This can occur in yards, flowerbeds, sidewalks and driveways.  A surface Drain is designed to move Surface Water away from a problem area to a predetermined exit point.  Surface Drains are available in many sizes.  How quickly they remove standing water is usually determined by the size of the pipe that is connected to the drain.

Simply put, a Drainage System is one or a group of underground Drain Pipes that take water away from a place that has water standing on it or flowing across it.  The water that is in the problem area, can be causing damage or may be inconvenient or both.  (Usually Both)  A simple Drainage System is a Drain for the water to enter, a Drain Pipe to move the water away from the Drain, and an Exit Point for the water to be released out of the Drain Pipe.

Drainage Systems quickly can become more complicated.  Considerations must include:

How does the water get to the problem area?  There may be one or many sources.

Water Sources:

1.  It falls from the sky directly

2.  It flows down hill over the surface (surface water)

3.  It flows underground under the surface (sub-surface water)

4.  It flows from the edge of a roof ( There may be many roofs near the problem area, neighbors etc.)

5.  It flows from a gutter downspout

6.  It flows over the edge of a gutter because the gutter is too small is is clogged

7.  It flows up from the ground (seeps and springs are common in Oklahoma)

8.  It flows from a sprinkler system use ( yours or your neighbors)

9.  It flows from a leaking pipe ( water mains, water meters, water lines, sprinkler pipes, sprinkler valves)

There are other reasons for Drainage Problems, the above reasons are just the most common.

Once the number of water sources is determined, a rough estimate of the amount of water that needs to be drained away on average must be estimated.  This can be simplified down to “SMALL, MEDIUM, OR LARGE AMOUNTS OF WATER TO BE DRAINED AWAY.  You don’t have to be an engineer trying to calculate fluid dynamics.  Experience at diagnosing drainage problems helps however.  How much water needs to be moved will help determine the type and size of the Surface Drain or French Drain that needs to be installed.  It also helps to determine the size of Drain Pipe required for the Drainage System.  A good rule to follow is, “If in doubt, install a larger Drain and Drain Pipe.”  Unused Drainage Capacity is better than property damage caused by a Drain that is overwhelmed by too much water.

For home and small business use typical materials used are:

6 inch, 9 inch, and 12 inch Surface Drains

3 inch, 4 inch, and 6 inch Drain Pipes

3 inch, 4 inch, and 6 inch French Drains

French Drains move more water than Surface Drains —

French Drains move Surface Water and Sub-Surface Water

Surface Drains move Surface Water only

Surface Drains look nicer than French Drains in most cases

Once the type and number of drains is determined and what size Drain Pipe will connect them, an exit point must be selected.  (Where is the Drainage System going to take the water to and release it?)

The Drainage Curb Fitting is installed when the desired exit point for the French Drain will release the Drainage Water into the Street.   The Drainage Curb Fitting is rectangular in shape and made to be installed through the curb.  A small section of Curb is cut out with a concrete saw.  The Section is a few inches wider than the Drainage Curb Fitting.  We then install new concrete around the curb fitting.  Once the concrete has dried, the Drain Pipe coming from a French Drain or Surface Drain is connected to the Drainage Curb fitting and then covered with dirt.