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Jmcnyc 08-14-2011 07:33 AM

Leaky Basement install sump pump or French drain?
I live on a sloping property. When it rains heavily a lot of water is flows to the front wall of the houses foundation. I get water in the basement.

I have had a few contractors look at it. If their specialty is basement waterproofing they recommend a sump pump. If their specialty is landscaping and French drains they recommend a French drain.

I would prefer to not cut a hole in the foundation and install a sump pump. Would like to try a French drain first and route the water to the side of the house and down the hill.

Any advice?


inspectorD 08-21-2011 03:45 PM

Go to open daylight, cuz you do not have to worry when the power goes out, and your not home.:banana:

BridgeMan 08-22-2011 08:11 PM

Sump pumps are fine when working properly, but when the power goes out, in comes the water. I'm speaking from experience, (briefly) living in a house with a very wet basement. We even installed a battery-operated back-up sump pump system (the place already had one sump pump), but it only worked for 9 or 10 hours before crapping out during a prolonged power failure and letting the water in.

My suggestion would be to consider doing some major landscaping to create a natural swale at least 20' away from the house, installing the French drain at the bottom of it, and draining it to daylight as suggested earlier by inspector D. Use perforated plastic pipe in the bottom of the French drain, set in a bed of washed rock surrounded by filter fabric (to keep the pipe from clogging up with fines over time). If money is tight, this is something you could easily do yourself--an afternoon with a rented trencher, buying the pipe and rock will be your biggest expenses, and then just go to it (you do own a good wheel barrow and shovel, yes?).

inspectorD 08-23-2011 06:44 AM

Thanks Bridgeman,

I didn't have enough time yesterday to elaborate on my answer....just got back from Vacation and had to play catch up.

But I agree, get the water away, and always make sure your gutters are working too. Mine seem to get blocked every week....frisbees, experiments to create free electricity.:clap:

CyFree 08-23-2011 07:59 AM

Hi jmc

Actually, a typical home would need both the french drain and the sump pump.

The french drain's job is to collect the ground water around the foundation, thus relieving the hydrostatic pressure and keeping that water from making into the basement. The problem is that, french drains are buried deep, by the footing of the foundation and, after they collect the water, they need to be tied to a discharge line to get the water as far away from your foundation as possible.

If you live in a typical home, and not on the top of a hill, you don't want to trust gravity alone to divert all that collected water away from your foundation. You don't want to tie that french drain to the city system waste-water system either, because during heavy rains the system may overflow and back up. You get the picture.

This is why a typical home needs a sump pump tied to the french drain system, to get rid of that water. If you really want to be protected, consider a sump pump system, with a battery-operated backup pump, that will pick up the tab when there is a power outage.

However, you don't need to dig out your whole basement to install a perimeter (french) drain. You can have it installed internally, along the internal perimeter of the basement. Internal french drains have been used successfully for over 20 years.

It is also a good idea to do some work outside. Things like grading the terrain to slope away from the house, and having clean, working gutters with downspouts that extend as far away from the foundation as possible go a long way in preventing basement leaks, making your sump pump work less.

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