The Lowdown on French Drains

If you’ve never heard of a French drain before, you may think it has something to do with

baguettes and the Eiffel Tower.

The truth is, however, that French drains are a plumbing method that can be very effective

in dealing with a wet or damp basement.


“In the 19th century, Henry French

popularized this type of drain as a way

to divert water away from places

it should not go and diverting it

a safe distance away.”


Despite its name, the French drain isn’t actually French.

It’s named after an American lawyer name Henry French.

In the 19th century, French popularized this type of drain as a way to divert water away from

places it should not go and diverting it a safe distance away.

Still today, this method is popularly used as a way to drain water from a wet basement and

divert it a safe distance away from the home.

The simple concept of draining water away from one area and toward another continues to prove

to be an effective way of dealing with wet basements and the potential hazards that can arise

from them.

The Lowdown on French Drains

Diagram of a French drain. Image source:

Instead of being one stand-alone thing, a French drain is actually a system of interconnected

pipes featuring small holes in them.

These pipes are installed underground and the holes allow water to be drained out of your

basement and away from your home.

If the natural terrain of your home’s land is such that it provides enough of a grade that will

allow the water to natural be drained down and away from your home’s foundation, nothing

else needs to be done.

Otherwise, the installation of a sump pump can help enormously when it comes to keeping

water away from your home’s foundation.

The key to keeping water from damaging your basement is to keep the water from accumu-

lating in the first place.

For help with that, you should consider contacting a waterproofing company such as

Affordable Waterproofing.

The Lowdown on French Drains

The beginning of a French drain. Photo source:

There are two kinds of French drains: interior French drains and exterior French drains.

An exterior French drain is installed by digging a trench near the foundation on the outside

of the house and placing the piping into the trench, which allows the water to drain away from

the home’s foundation from the exterior of the home.

There are many advantages to exterior drains, but there is one important disadvantage:

If a problem arises with the installation or any maintenance to the drain is required, it could

mean that your property will need to be dig up to access the pipes.

The Lowdown on French Drains

Building a French drain. Photo source:

Internal drains, on the other hand, feature a trench dug on the inside of your home, around the

border of your basement walls.

The pipes are placed into the trench and are then covered with cement.

Typically, this type if drain is installed when the home is being built but it I possible to retrofit

an existing home to include this type of drain if a wet basement becomes a problem (something

that is quite common in older homes, for example).

Whether exterior or interior, French drains serve one primary purpose: To drain unwanted water

and give it a place to go.

In doing so, French drains keep the water from accumulating in your basement and causing damage.


Are you familiar with the benefits of French drains?

Have you installed a French drain on your property as a way to divert water?

Share your thoughts and comments with us.