What is a French Drain and How Does it Work?


French Drains and How They Work

French drainWater always flows downhill by the easiest route possible. That’s the basic concept behind a French drain. French drains are used by property owners who face drainage issues that may damage their homes, buildings, and property.  Since water flows downward along paths of least resistance, it can collect against walls and foundations.  Over time it can degrade these materials, and even a hairline crack can allow the water to gain entry where it isn’t wanted, destroying property, creating health hazards, and more. Seepage into a crawlspace can cause major damage and rotting wood.

What is a French drain?

Wikipedia defines a French drain as a trench filled with gravel or rock or containing a perforated pipe that redirects surface water and groundwater away from an area. A French drain can have perforated hollow pipes along the bottom to quickly vent water that seeps down through the upper gravel or rock. French drains are frequently used to improve drainage here in the Fort Worth area because of the soil’s high clay content.

Why is the drain referred to as French?

In reality, there’s nothing really French about them. Although some people say the name comes from the fact the sewers of Paris in the early 1800s were simple open ditches, most attribute name to a Massachusetts farmer named Henry French. Reportedly, he came up with the idea of using small stone filled ditches to drain water off his farmland back in the late 1800s.

What problems can a French drain solve?

A French drain is useful in solving drainage problems for any area subject to surface or subsurface saturation including flooding or pooling in in your yard or flower beds, damage to an outdoor patio or damage to a low-level foundation area, especially with pier and beam foundations.

I have a slab foundation. Do French drains apply to me?

French drains allow you to maintain a consistent soil moisture content level. This is very important when dealing with a slab foundation.  Water pooling will cause the soil to swell and the foundation to shift.  This can lead to cracks and other problems.  A French drain allows the water to drain away from the housekeeping your slab safe.

If you are experiencing drainage problems or are noticing water pooling around your foundation, please contact our office.  With over 40 years of combined experience, one of our owners will come out and provide you with a free no-hassle estimate to correct your problem. Visit our website to learn more about our drainage services for homeowners in the greater Fort Worth area.

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