Consider installing french drains to alleviate basement flooding

Posted by Matt Buchanan

As a homeowner, you want to spend your discretionary income on home improvement projects that make your home beautiful. Having to spend a good chunk of money on the hidden systems that keep your home working properly but don’t bring any aesthetic value is never any fun, but the reality is investing in some of these systems make a lot of sense in some situations. And that is especially true when you have a finished basement and your home sits in an area that is prone to collect water.


When does installing french drains make sense?


flooded-finished-basementAs with any basement flooding mitigation projects you might be considering taking on, weighing the cost of the project against the likelihood of a water event happening (and the resulting costs incurred by you) is important. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself:

() is the basement area finished?

() do we have flood insurance?

() is our deductible high?

() does our lot sit in a valley that collects rain water?


water-against-foundationFrench drains are designed to move water away from your basement foundation walls and into the street where the water can safely enter storm drains. Therefore, they are most useful for homes that have an oddly shaped lot that forces water to run towards the home where it then becomes trapped and sits next to the foundation. Even in instances where there is no basement the water will soak into the foundation and cause home flooding that can be incredibly expensive to fix.  Many people assume that if their foundation walls don’t have any cracks then they can withstand pooling water. The fact is concrete is porous and any standing water, given enough time, will find its way into your foundation or basement.


How do french drains help prevent basement flooding?


french-drain-flooded-basementWhen it comes to preventing a flooded basement, there are many actions that can be taken. While complete basement waterproofing services can cost tens of thousands on dollars, one of the most cost-effective, and effective things you can do is install french drains. The system is actually incredibly simple, despite it’s fancy sounding name. The basic steps are to dig along the outside of your home’s foundation, lay a corrugated plastic pipe in the ditch, then fill it with gravel. The pipe should be slightly pitched such that the water can flow down and out towards the street and into a municipal drainage system.


How much do french drains cost?


As with any home service you may need, price estimates will range based upon the contractor and what they deem necessary for the project. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay around $20-$30 per linear feet. So if your home has 140 linear feet that needs to have a french drain around it, you can expect to pay somewhere around $3,500.


What if I already have water in my basement?


If you already have a basement flooding in your home, it’s a little early to be thinking about french drains. The reality is you need to deal with the immediate problem, and that means getting the water out safely and quickly before it causes even bigger problems for you. While your insurance may or may not cover the costs of cleaning up the flooded basement, you don’t need to call your adjuster first. That takes time and ultimately lost time means more water and greater damages to your property, not to mention the health risks associated with a wet basement.

Your first step should always be to call a certified basement flood cleanup company to help you begin the containment and mitigation process.

About Matt Buchanan

I grew up in Irving, TX and left for Nashville, TN for college. After college I lived in Washington, DC and then in Cairo, Egypt. After coming back to the states, I spent a couple of years back in Dallas before moving with my wife to Denver!
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