Water damage can be an incredibly persistent, costly, and even a hazardous problem for Pittsburgh’s homeowners, especially if it’s not covered by insurance. Fortunately, there are ways to not only address water infiltration into your home and basement, but to prevent it.
In this series, we’ll examine four crucial aspects of a sound water damage prevention plan: exterior French drains, interior French drains, sump pumps, and emergency power generators.
An exterior French drain diverts water from around your yard and house.
An interior French drain removes water where it enters your basement.
Sump pumps push the water through your French drains.
Emergency power generators or battery backup systems keep a sump pump working – and your basement dry – even during blackouts.
All are important components of a comprehensive waterproofing plan. Today, we’ll look at French drains.
The French drain dates back to before the Civil War – the U.S. Civil War, as there’s nothing French about a French drain. The first one was created in Concord, Massachusetts in 1859 by Henry French, a local farmer and lawyer. He devised a means of channeling excess water away from his buildings using a series of downhill trenches lined with roofing tiles. His invention quickly became the gold standard for managing exterior water issues.
Today’s French drains are more sophisticated, but follow the same general principal – water that might otherwise pool in your yard or around your home is diverted away through an underground drain.
Gillece Plumbing will dig a trench around the perimeter of your house, install a drain, and cover it with gravel and a special mesh designed to keep out sediment, debris, and other potentially clogging material. Though exterior French drains often rely on simple gravity to move water, a sump pump might be installed to help force the water through the drain.
When it rains, water drains into the gravel, through the mesh, and into the drain where it comes out further down in your yard, in the street, or into your storm sewer system.
French drains are especially effective in Pittsburgh’s hilly terrain, where many homes have negative slope issues, meaning water pools near or flows toward the structure. This includes homes built on hillsides, which are directly in the line of oncoming water during storms. A home’s foundation might withstand years of abuse from water but will eventually lose that battle and start suffering water damage.
French drains aren’t without problems, though, especially those that are poorly constructed, built with an improper grade, or with less-than-modern materials. Pieces of a shoddily-made drain might break off and stop up the system. Or a cheap filtering mesh might fail, causing expensive clogging issues.
A French drain is a great solution to a common problem, but it can be an expensive and recurring headache if it’s not built right. Though it might be tempting to try to install your own drain, doing it wrong could make your water damage problem even worse than before and end up being more expensive than just doing it right the first time.
Just recently in Baldwin PA, a suburban community of Pittsburgh, a resident was rushed to the hospital after his self-made trench collapsed on him.
Gillece Plumbing Services has been installing top-quality French drains for more then three decades. Our trained plumbers and technicians follow OSHA’s trench shoring guidelines and will install your French drain safely and effectively. A surprising portion of our outdoor business is fixing drains installed by others. Before you start your next home project, give us a call to see what we can do for you.
Photo credit: Wikipedia