5 Questions (and Answers) About French Drains

French drain

What are French drains?

French drains are trenches that redirect surface water and groundwater in your yard away from a particular area. The trench is typically filled with rocks or gravel, which surround a perforated pipe. Unwanted water travels through the pipe and empties a safe distance from your home or business.  

How do I know if I need a French drain?

You’ll know you need a French drain if water is an issue in your house. The most common problem is water getting into your basement. Also consider a French drain if standing water outside of your home is an issue.

 Another instance in which you’ll want to consider a French drain is if you’re building a retaining wall on a hillside.

A French drain can alleviate water issues by redirecting the water to a lower-lying area of your property, the street, a drainage ditch, a dry well or some other place.

How are they installed?

While it’s possible to tackle a DIY French drain project, most people opt to hire a contractor. There are three different styles of French drains:

  • A shallow French drain that extends horizontally across your property to channel water away from an area. This is a good option if you’re only dealing with surface water.
  • A deep French drain that extends all around your house and blocks water from entering your basement. This is something you’ll want to consider if water is getting into your basement.
  • An interior French drain that intercepts water that enters your basement. This is another option worth considering if water is getting into your basement.

How much do they cost?

Deep French drains and interior French drains are generally more expensive than shallow French drains. No matter which option you choose, it is easier and cheaper to install French drains when a house is being constructed rather than after it’s been constructed.

The average cost to install a French drain varies depending on the size of your basement and whether your home is finished or unfinished. In general, it costs several thousand dollars to install a French drain. Many contractors will include the cost of a sump pump in the price.

Where did the name come from?

The “French” in French drain has nothing to do with the home of the Eiffel Tower. Rather, the drain is named after inventor Henry Flagg French.

French drains can help protect your home—and so can the right homeowners insurance. Talk to an Erie Insurance agent in your community to learn more about great coverage at a great price.

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