What Is A French Drain?

A French drain is a sort of sustainable water drainage system that is used to expel water from surfaces or areas that are prone to waterlogging or experiencing such. A french drain has many other synonyms, and it is, therefore, vital to know some of these common names in order to avoid confusion if you ever come across them. They include: land drains, trench drains, curtain drains, filter drains or weeping drains. The inventor of french drains was a man named Henry French and was a judge and farmer based in Massachusetts. He came up with this concept in the year 1859.

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How To Build A French Drain

A french drain works under the simple concept that water flows downhill hence it is vital to keep this in mind whilst constructing. In order to begin the process of creating or building a french drain, the first step is to dig a trench. This can be done manually or using a machine. After successfully digging your trench, go ahead and line it with a permeable membrane. A permeable membrane is installed in order to prevent silt, vegetation as well as roots from slipping through into the french drain and causing a blockage. The next step is to fill this trench with large sized rocks but not all the way, only partially, then place a perforated pipe of your preferred sizing. The pipe is perforated in order to allow water from the surrounding surface to sip through and be directed away into a suitable drainage designated area. After carefully laying the pipe, add smaller sized rocks on top of the perforated pipe and there you have it! Your very own French drain. The purpose of adding the rocks into the trench before and after laying the pipe is to further prevent silt and debris as well as roots from accessing the pipe and causing inefficiency in the working of the french drain.

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Areas In Which To Use A French Drain

As we earlier stated, the purpose of a well constructed or built french drain is to redirect the excess water in a particular area to a designated drainage site. A french drain can, therefore, be used in various areas. Land that is being prepared or readied for construction is one such area in which a french drain can be used. Waterlogged areas in your compound or any other piece of land could most definitely use a french drain to expel this excess water. It is quite common to see people constructing basement rooms in order to create more space. Basement rooms are prone to flooding caused by the excess water from the surrounding area hence a french drain should be constructed prior to building these basements in order to avoid unnecessary nuisances and costs brought about by flooding. While constructing a retainer wall on a hillside, or anywhere for that matter it is vital to install a french drain after the first course of stones in order to ease the pressure caused by excess water accumulation.


Maintaining and Repairing a French Drain

Despite the careful installation of a permeable membrane along the trench and use of rocks to prevent unwanted debris and roots into the french drain, sometimes silt manages to sip in with time. Water jetting can be an effective mode of flushing out this unwanted silt and tiny roots that have caused blockage in the system. CCTV cameras placed on a steady rod or a wheeled robot can also help identify what is causing the malfunctioning of the installed french drain. In other cases, you will be entirely required to replace the whole french drain system.


From this piece, we have learned quite a number of things about a french drain system and how to build one. French drains are important and can help reduce water logging in areas that excess water is not required.

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