Pittsburgh French Drains
There are few things more frustrating than dealing with a wet basement, yet many homeowners put off doing anything about drainage problems for years. Thankfully, there is an easy solution: install an exterior French drain. Homeowners who are on the fence about whether French drain installation in Pittsburgh is worth the money can read on to find out what they need to know about French drains, how they work, who installs them, and more.
What is a French Drain?
There are two types of French drains: indoor French drains and exterior French drains. The exterior variety is a good first defense against wet basements and soggy lawns, so it’s a good place for homeowners to start.
The design is simple: French drains are trenches with perforated pipes in them that are covered with rocks. The trench is angled away from the home so that it can collect excess groundwater and surface water and route it away from the basement. The exit point for the water is at the drain’s lowest point.
How do French Drains work?
No matter where it is, water always seeks the lowest point and drains readily into loose soil and air pockets. French drains provide an easy, accessible path for the water by adding a sunken channel filled with freely draining gravel, which encourages the water to drain out of the surrounding soil. This reduces the static water pressure on basement walls, which helps to prevent leaks and seepage and keeps them dry.
To drain correctly, the trench and pipe must use the force of gravity to remove water from saturated soil and pull it toward an acceptable discharge point. Acceptable discharge points vary by property, but they can include:
- drainage ditches
- dry wells
- low-lying drainage fields
- the street
Signs It's Time to Install a French Drain
Homeowners want to know that they are getting their money’s worth, and there’s nothing wrong with that. French drains can be very helpful in tackling drainage problems, but they aren’t always necessary. Here are a few warning signs of drainage issues to look out for that can help homeowners decide whether it’s time to investigate options:
- basement flooding during or after periods of heavy rain or snowmelt
- musty smells in the basement, which can indicate mold and mildew growth
- visible seepage or leaks
- water stains on basement walls or floors
- high humidity in the basement
- standing water in the yard
- over-saturated soils
- foundation cracks
- lack of other approved drainage and basement waterproofing systems
Benefits of French Drains
By installing a French drain Pittsburgh homeowners can reclaim their basements from mold, mildew, and pooling water and ensure that their yards and landscapes are not damaged in the process. French drains aren’t the only drainage solution, but there’s a reason most experts recommend them as a first line of defense against basement water seepage. Here are just a few of the benefits of French drains that help to justify their position:
1. They're Affordable
Exterior French drains are quite affordable when compared to other basement waterproofing techniques. This gives homeowners more money to spend on projects like basement refinishing and landscape improvements after the drain is installed.
2. They're Efficient
For homeowners in Pittsburgh French drain installation may be all that’s required to rid a basement of moisture and simultaneously tackle pooling water outside. Homeowners can choose where they want the water to drain and can even combine French drain systems with septic systems if needed. The ability to move water away from the home efficiently before it is able to leak or seep into the basement can reduce the cost of moisture mitigation and prevent the need for foundation repairs.
3. They Also Help The Surrounding Landscape
French drains don’t just keep basements dry. They also prevent landscape damage by routing the water to a predetermined place away from the home and away from areas of the lawn or landscape that would otherwise be damaged by pooling water. This allows families to reclaim their outdoor spaces and turn damp, spongy lawns into gardens or play areas.
4. Quick Installation
When installed by a professional, French drain installation is usually relatively fast. The work occurs outside, not in the home, and contractors with sufficient experience will be able to offer insight into the best drainage points and how to incorporate the drain into the surrounding landscape for the best aesthetic results.
5. Easy Maintenance
French drains can become clogged with sediment over time, but they’re easy to clean. Homeowners can use pressurized water to remove clogs and eject the sediment into the drainage ditch or field or use sewer snakes to dislodge stubborn clogs.
Why Hire a Professional?
Although the design of French drains is relatively straightforward, installing them requires some specialized tools and experience. Even particularly handy homeowners should leave French drain installation in Pittsburgh to the pros. Here’s why:
1. Safety Concerns
Before digging a trench, contractors consider the locations of things like water lines, gas lines, and other underground utilities. Most homeowners don’t know how to locate these utility lines for themselves.
Some installations also require the temporary removal of hardscaping structures like sidewalks or porches. This can be dangerous work for the uninitiated. It’s not worth risking personal injuries or damage to property when professional installation is affordable, fast, and painless.
2. Insurance Policies
Companies that offer French drain installation near me carry comprehensive insurance policies that cover all their employees. That means in the unlikely event that someone is hurt on the job or the property is damaged, homeowners won’t be on the line for hospital bills or repair bills.
3. Understanding of Slopes
One of the first things contractors will do is assess the slope leading away from the house. Contractors know how to take proper measurements to ensure that the French drain will be sloped enough to evacuate all the excess water. Most homeowners just don’t have the specialized experience to evaluate existing slopes, determine the best drainage points, and ensure that the trench is dug correctly.
4. Access to Specialized Tools and Equipment
It takes more than just a shovel to dig a French drain. Professional installation contractors have access to everything they need not just to install the drain, but also to ensure that no damage to the surrounding landscape occurs in the process. They can also buy materials like landscaping fabric and gravel in bulk, which helps their clients save money on material costs.
5. Ongoing Maintenance
The same contractors that specialize in installing French drains can also provide ongoing maintenance. Experts recommend having exterior drains inspected at least once every two years. Proactive maintenance is essential for preventing clogs, which can quickly lead to pooling water and foundation damage so homeowners can’t afford to ignore this task.
6. Help with Permits and Codes
Improperly installed French drains can negatively affect not just the property on which they are installed, but also surrounding land. This can cause legal issues for homeowners who choose to go the do-it-yourself route. Professional French drain installers are familiar with Pittsburgh’s building codes and landscaping permits and they know how to design and install systems that will not interfere with neighboring properties or pose a danger to local watersheds.
Why Choose Us?
It’s always best to work with a reputable basement waterproofing and drainage company, not a random independent contractor or a technician who ordinarily specializes in other forms of yard and landscape maintenance. Here’s what sets us apart:
- All our contractors are licensed and fully insured.
- We can provide references or a portfolio of recent work upon request.
- We make it easy to get in touch with our representatives so that homeowners can stay informed about their projects’ progress.
- Our contractors can help homeowners better understand their drainage options.
- We have years of experience and the positive customer reviews to back it up.
- Our customers can expect only the best when it comes to professionalism, from the initial consultation to cleaning up the worksite.
- We treat all our customers’ properties with the care and respect they deserve.
- Our contractors will offer a detailed project estimate before getting started so our clients will know exactly what to expect.
- We’ve earned our excellent reputation by providing the best customer service and the best results around.
The Bottom Line
Exterior French drains provide an affordable and effective solution for basement waterproofing and yard drainage. Homeowners should always hire a professional for French drain installation in Pittsburgh to ensure that the job gets done right the first time. Browse our website to learn more about French drain installation or give us a call to request a quote to get the process started.