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8 Mistakes Most People Make with French Drains

Many homeowners enjoy the benefits of French drain installation. This system protects against pooling and associated damage. Learn the eight common mistakes made during French drain installation and how to prevent them to safeguard your most valuable investment. 

What is a French Drain? 

A French drain is an underground drainage system. It is installed by digging a trench around the perimeter of the foundation, then laying a perforated pipe, covered with filter fabric, at the bottom and filling the trench with gravel. This system safeguards against water damage by diverting water away from the property. When it rains, the water flows freely into the pipe and through the drainage system, where it is dispelled without causing flooding, water accumulation, or saturation. 

8 Mistakes to Avoid When Installing a French Drain 

Installing a French drain may appear like an effortless project; however, several crucial steps must be taken to install a successful system. Here are eight mistakes to avoid when installing a French drain system: 

Neglecting Utility Checks  

Utility checks are crucial for preventing safety risks and damage to underground gas lines and electrical cables. Failure to conduct this vital procedure can cause significant safety hazards. Always perform utility checks, adhere to local regulations, and gain necessary permits before French drain installation for enhanced safety and to minimize complications. These necessary precautions are the primary reason residents rely on professional drainage system installation. 

Forgoing the Fabric Filter 

A fabric filter prevents debris such as leaves and dirt from clogging the system, protecting the perforated pipe from blockages and allowing proper water flow. This fabric enhances the system’s longevity and effectiveness. 

Improper Grading 

French drain trenches require a slight slope, usually about 1 foot per 100 feet of length. This gradient allows water to flow efficiently through the drainpipe. 

Using Unperforated Pipe 

Pipe perforations allow water to flow through the pipe and drain effectively. The system does not work as intended when solid pipes are used. 

Using the Wrong Gravel or Rock Type 

Fine-ground gravel or rock will clog the pipe and restrict water flow. This blockage jeopardizes the functionality and efficiency of the system. 

Failure to Direct the Water Discharge 

A French drain system is only as good as the water it eliminates. When water does not have a point of exit, it will accumulate, causing pooling and eventual flooding. A pop-up emitter, dry well, or municipal drain is necessary to ensure proper water elimination. 

DIY French Drain Installation 

We discourage DIY French drain installation due to the many associated risks. Improper or insufficient installation can cause safety risks, reduce property value, and cause damage. Contact a professional for an inspection and expert French drain installation to ensure the long-term efficacy of your home’s drainage system. 

Neglecting Maintenance 

Neglecting French drain maintenance is one of the most significant mistakes homeowners can make. Professional maintenance ensures the system is fully functional and provides optimal water drainage flow.  

Benefits of a French Drain 

French drains offer many benefits for homeowners, including: 

French Drains Prevent Flooding 

French drain systems eliminate pooling water, which can cause mud and flooded lawn areas. These problems can also affect crawl spaces and basements in low-lying areas, making French drains essential for flood prevention. 

French Drains Protect Your Foundation 

French drains protect your foundation from water damage by diverting excess water from the house. This re-routing also safeguards the crawl space and basement areas from water infiltration, preventing cracks, leaks, mold, and other water-related damages. 

French Drains Potentially Increase Property Value 

French drain systems protect the foundation and create a more functional yard space, potentially increasing property value. These systems prevent water pooling and muddy areas, allowing the use of the entire yard after rainstorms. 

French Drains Prevent Erosion 

French drains help prevent standing water and runoff that causes soil erosion. These systems channel water away from vulnerable areas, protecting landscaping and preventing topsoil loss. 

Contact AFS for a Free Inspection! 

AFS provides expert foundation drainage solutions, like our patented CrawlDrain™ system. These methods ensure your crawl space, basement, and home remain safe and dry through rain, snowmelt, and other moisture occurrences. With AFS, you can trust your French drain system installation will continue to protect your property with optimal performance for many years. Contact us today for a free inspection. 


Ted Dryce

Ted Dryce

Content Writer

Ted is an SEO Content Writer who has been with Groundworks since 2021. He’s covered home repair topics ranging from crawl space encapsulation to regional soil conditions. When he’s not working, Ted is performing improv comedy and working on his own creative projects.

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