Yard Drainage Problems? French Drain Installations – Specialty Foundation Repair

French Drain Installation – Backyard Drainage Problems Solved in Charlotte NC


The Carolinas have seen an increased amount of annual rainfall over the last few years, so more and more customers are calling asking for information about resolving backyard drainage problems with French Drains. Homeowners are facing challenges with wet crawl spaces and basements, as well as soft spots in the yard that never dry. Erosion of the surface soils also becomes an issue with increased rainfall totals.


What is a French Drain system?

The picture below shows a typical french drain system.

French Drainage System - French Drains - Specialty Foundation Repair


These systems get deployed by landscapers frequently in an effort to move sub-surface water at a faster flow rate to a below grade area on the property. If installed properly, these systems do provide some relief for drainage problems. However, they do have some basic challenges in clay soils.
• Corrugated piping systems can get clogged with roots and collapse over time.
• The corrugated pipe is not wrapped in a geotextile sock allowing sediments and debris to clog the control pipe over a short period of time.
• The contractor back fills the system with the same gummy clay at the surface which blocks water from getting into the system in the first place.
• Exit lines either collapse and/
r become clogged with roots and debris within a few seasons if not properly maintained.
• These systems do not have clean outs so they are impossible to keep serviceable once the system has been compromised.
• French drains can become clogged and inactive within a few years of deployment. The only solution for this is to tear out the old system and replace with a new one creating additional cost and disruption to the yard.



Are there alternatives to a French Drain System that increase longevity and service life?

Yes, if you live in an area that has gunky clay at the surface it is much more practical to spend a little extra money and deploy a catch basin network tied into a PVC underground piping system. See the picture below for reference:

Yard Drainage Problems Solved - French Drain - Specialty Foundation Repair

Catch Basins come in a variety of sizes based on the situation. The most common size is 12″x 12″ green or black. Catch basins can be strategically positioned at points where water collects the most. The PVC control pipe if properly installed, is easy to maintain over time. If clean outs are deployed, the system can simply be snaked out if it ever becomes clogged with yard debris. The lifespan of a catch basin system can be decades if properly maintained and serviced. The initial cost to deploy this system would be double of the french drain system, however, the increased longevity would quickly pay for itself in convenience and serviceability.

Another effective way to move surface drainage in gunky clay soils is a drainage swale. See the picture below for reference:

Drainage Swale French Drains Specialty Foundation Repair


A drainage swale is basically an artificial riverbed. It is created to catch water at the surface and re-direct the flow around the structure. These systems are very effective at moving water long distances and can last a long time if properly installed. Drainage Swales can often be incorporated into the general hardscape design for the home during construction. Often, a civil engineer and/or landscape architect can be consulted to design the system properly based on slope of the grounds and the amount of flow rate needed to create a viable system. The homeowner can then choose a decorative rock for the swale based on budget and personal preference. Certainly, this kind of protocol can be the most expensive of the three drainage systems mentioned with the maximum benefit for the monies spent.

For more information about French Drains, and/or other types of foundation drainage improvements for a home built in the Carolinas, please don’t hesitate to give us a call for more information. We are here to help!

Call (704) 787-6972


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