A French drain is a kind of trench dug on your property. It contains a corrugated pipe with holes that provides a type of channel that water can flow through. The space in the trench around the pipe is filled with gravel which helps prevent debris from backing up inside the pipe. The purpose of a French drain is to deflect water from the ground or surface around your house so that it does not collect around your home’s foundation. The storm water redirected by a French drain can be funneled.

When the French drain installed on your property fails, then it could spell big trouble inside your home. This not only includes destroying walls and flooring in a basement or soaking into the wood pillars in a crawlspace, but it could also include the presence of mildew and mold.

There are three basic reasons for why your French drain might fail. The first occurs when silt begins entering the pipe and accumulates. This accumulation reduces water flow due to the condensed area within the pipe. Eventually the entire pipe becomes clogged with debris until water cannot pass through at all.

While some French drains contain a filter that is designed to help prevent the silt from backing up inside the pipe, more often than not it does not work as intended. This is because the filter, despite being designed to prevent intrusion, also becomes clogged up with silt until the water cannot pass through the pipe.

The second reason that French drains fail is due to the breakdown of the pipe inside the trench. The gravel and dirt around the pipe put pressure on it, which creates points of collapse. These points of collapse lead to failure which can cause water to back up into your home. If this happens, you might consider using PVC pipe as opposed to the cheaper, flexible kind.

The third reason why French drains fail is because whoever installed the drain put the pipe in the wrong position. When the pipe is in the wrong position, they are unable to intercept water which flows around the base of your family’s home and allows the water to seep into the crawlspace or basement and cause damage to the foundation.

Signs of French Drain Failure

The best way to use a French drain to prevent water from backing up into your home is to know the early warning signs that the drain is failing to direct water away from the foundation. The easiest way to tell if your French drain is clogged is to look for the presence of standing water in your yard, especially around the trench area where the drain was installed.