General Article

French Drains: An Aesthetic Alternative to Open Drains

The French Drain is a specialized, sub-surface water drainage system described and popularized by Henry Flagg French in 1859. They have a history of use in both residential and agricultural conditions as an alternative to surface-based, open top water trench systems.

Water Drainage Beneath the Earth

The basic idea of the French Drain (also known as a French Ditch or Weeping Tile) consists of a perforated pipe laid into a trench cut into the earth. This trench should slope down from the point the user wishes the water drained from. The pipe is surrounded by gravel backfill and covered with layered soil.

Standing water on the topsoil will drain down through the dirt and gravel to gather into the perforated pipe. The steeply-sloped pipe will then channel this water away from the foundations of the house or the middle of the field or yard the pipe is meant to drain.

Aesthetically Pleasing, But Tricky

The French Drain system has the aesthetic benefit of not being visible above ground, and not consisting of an open pipe. This allows for a very “clean” appearance in the yard, while also preventing the pipe from being visibly jammed up with yard debris such as falling leaves and branches.

However, this does not mean the French Ditch is immune to maintenance needs. Further, the installation must take the proper degree of slope into account, or the drain will not effectively carry the water off at a rate that prevents puddling on the surface.

Worthwhile If Done Properly

There are a number of ways a French Drain can be designed in order to maximize the health of the system. Cleanout access points can be installed at intervals, to allow easy snaking in the event of clogs, for example. Additionally, a multi-pipe set up can be installed to allow for a more balanced load.

If installed properly, a French Drain can help prevent water damage to the foundation of a house. Highlander Water Proofing is an example of a company offering french drain repair Erie Pennsylvania residents may wish to take advantage of.