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A clogged French drain system won’t accomplish anything for your home.

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Pros and Cons of Repairing your Wet Basement with an Exterior French Drain

One method of basement waterproofing used by many contractors is to install a french drain system along the outside perimeter of your home.

To install an exterior French drain, the contractor will take the following steps:

  • First, the entire perimeter of your home must be cleared. Gardens, steps, porches, etc., must be removed before work can begin.
  • Next, the contractor will dig out the perimeter of your home. Excavated dirt will be heaped around the house.
  • The drain will be laid in a bed of stone along the bottom. The stone, and possibly a layer of filter fabric, are there to protect the drain from clogging.
  • The excavated soil will be “backfilled” on top of the system. In a year, this soil will settle, and the contractor will need to return to fill in more soil.

At AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists, we do not recommend this type of drainage system installed in your home. Instead, we suggest installing an interior basement drain along the inside perimeter of your basement or crawl space. For a free waterproofing quote in the Alabama area, call or e-mail us today!

Why not Install an Exterior French Drain

You can expect the contractors to create huge heaps of excavated soil all around your home, creating a mess.

On top of that, the process is extremely expensive, costing $15,000 to $20,000 per installation.

The installation time is twice as long or more than if you choose to have an interior system put in.

You will need to remove:

  • Trees
  • Shrubberies
  • Gardens
  • Porches
  • Steps
  • Sidewalks
  • Patios
  • Driveways
  • …And More

Failing French Drains in AL, TN, GA, and MS

French drain systems have been installed on the outside of homes since the 1920s, and if they were the best way to dry a basement, AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists would be installing them, too.

Unfortunately, placing a French drain or exterior footing drain along the outside is a recipe for failure. When you put a drainage system several feet under the earth, even in a bed of gravel, it will eventually clog with dirt, roots, and debris.

Sometimes, a contractor will try to stop this by laying down a layer of filter fabric around the drain. In this case, instead of the drain clogging, the filter fabric won’t let water into the pipe. Other problems such as freezing pipes and improperly sloped lines are also common. This type of exterior drainage commonly will not handle water that collects under your basement floor, in which case you’ll still need a sump pump inside your basement. Some contractors even connect the exterior drains to the sump pump inside, which will almost certainly clog!

Clogged exterior french drain

What happens when your drainage system clogs? It will need to be excavated and you’ll have to start over. Would you want to do that again?

Choose the better basement drain system

You don’t have to deal with the hassle of clogged drainage systems. The experts at AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists can give you a better solution for your home with our basement drainage systems. For a free waterproofing quote, contact us today! We service the Alabama area, including Florence, Dothan, Vestavia Hills, Gadsden, Phenix City, Alabaster, Prattville and nearby.  We also service Tennessee areas, especially Nashville and surrounding areas, Chattanooga and neighboring cities.  AFS also offers services to Columbus Georgia, and the west side of the state to its northern border. In Mississippi, we service Biloxi and the surrounding areas up to Waynesboro.


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AFS Coverage Map


Birmingham, AL

130 Interstate Commerce Crt. Bldg. 100 & 200
Alabaster, AL 35007

Chattanooga, TN

214 Industrial Park Dr.
Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379

Columbus, GA

2701 Opelika Road
Phenix City, AL 36870

Huntsville, AL

2415 Jordan Road
Huntsville, AL 35811

Knoxville, TN

3028 E Governor John Sevier Highway
Knoxville, TN 37914

Mobile, AL / Biloxi, MS

3131 Hamilton Blvd.
Theodore, AL 36582

Montgomery, AL

445 Dexter Avenue, Suite 4050
Montgomery, AL 36104

Nashville, TN

1519 Heil Quaker Blvd.
LaVergne, TN 37086