Most people who have basements make them into the perfect hideaway from life. Men have “man caves,” usually in the basement, while women have “she sheds.” It is a great feeling to have a man cave, but extra work needs to take place.
One of the downsides of having a basement is there has to be a drainage system. A French drain system is what is installed to keep everything safe and dry. But can you install a French drain before the basement is finished?
The answer is yes; you can finish your basement with the French drain. It is a bit tricky once the home is built, but we advise how to get this done. Seal all the cracks and put down absorbents to soak up the moisture while the French drain does the rest.
Table of Contents
- What Is a French Drain?
- From Where Does the Water In the Basement Come?
- What To Do If the Basement Is Flooded
- Why Does a French Drain Help So Much?
- What Are the Skills Needed to Install a French Drain?
- The Steps to Install a French Drain
- Call Professionals or Do It Yourself?
- Other Things You Can Do To Prevent Floods In the Basement
What Is a French Drain?
If moisture is a problem getting into the walls on a humid or rainy day, a French Drain is a solution. Since the basement is underneath the home, that is where the water will go too. The French drain will gather all of the moisture and discard it out of the basement.
If your home is in a rainy location, this is a primary option to look into for your home. The French drain is a shallow trench that goes into a pipe leading to the sump pump. If you live in the city, you can request to connect to the city’s sewer system.
From Where Does the Water In the Basement Come?
Heavy rains are the most prominent reason for the basement floods. Water goes into the ground and soaks into the walls of the basement. Over time, it causes cracks and gets inside the room.
It is critical before you finish with your basement plans to close up all the cracks. Do this before installing the French drain, or else you will continue to have the water issues coming in. The main goal should be protecting the walls of the basement and everything in it.
Gutters that are clogged are the second reason water gets into the walls of the basement. Remember, gravity pulls everything down, and that is where your basement is located. The water builds up from the clogged gutters and eventually bursts into the walls of the basement.
Cleaning out the gutters regularly is a good solution, but water can still leak inside the walls. Check the gutters to make sure the water is flowing correctly and make sure there are no cracks. Fix the gaps in the gutters before moving on, or the same problems will occur.
What To Do If the Basement Is Flooded
There are two different items to use that will clean up the floods inside a basement. The Green Expert Utility Pump, which is priced around $55, should be purchased. This item will get the water out of the basement in no time.
The O-Cedar Microfiber Spin Mop, priced around $30, will dry up all the surfaces once the water is removed. As you are soaking up the remaining water, the mop comes with a wringer built into the product. It is foot-activated, making it easy and quick to use.
After all the water is cleaned up, it is wise to call professionals. They can check everything over to ensure there are no more leaks before you finish with the basement. It would be best if you did this, or mold will grow in the basement, causing significant health issues.
Why Does a French Drain Help So Much?
Every basement needs a drainage system to prevent flooding. With a French drain, you can guarantee your personal belongings are protected. Some people put their most valuable stuff in the basements to hide from sticky fingers.
You may want to turn your basement into a game room, movie theater, or the neighborhood’s hottest hangout. Home insurance may cover the cost of damaged items due to a flood, but who wants to lose their valuables? Then who wants to fix everything up again after everything has been damaged?
You can finish the basement of your dreams, but it is best to do it before putting anything in it. Start with the proper lights first. By setting up the lights, you can better see where all the leaks are to get sealed.
If everything is done the first time correctly, you should not worry about any more leaks. It is best to tear down the walls and put up waterproof materials. Digging may be required to put the pipes in place alongside the firewall.
What Are the Skills Needed to Install a French Drain?
Any do-it-yourself person will admit, it takes skills and knowledge to do any project. These are the primary skills needed to install a French drain.
- Construction skills
- Electrician skills
- Skilled with heavy machinery
- Skilled with power tools
- Skills with hand tools
If any of these skills are not there or lacking, it is best to contact a professional. The electrical part is the most dangerous because of one wrong move, and there will be no second chances. Live wires can be placed inside the walls; you may have forgotten or may not know if it is there.
The Steps to Install a French Drain
These are the steps to follow if you are confident in doing the job yourself.
Step 1: Make a Path for the Drainage System
All pipes should run alongside the walls a foot apart. You will need a sump pump to take out any standing water as you dig.
Step 2: Dig Out a Path on the Basement Floor
You will need to take a jackhammer or a pickaxe to break through the basement floor. A trench needs to be dug 18 inches deep and 8 inches wide with a pale or a shovel.
Step 3: Level the Trench
The trench should be at a downward angle to allow the water to move down the drain path quickly.
Step 4: Put the Pipe Into the Trench
Put the French drain pipe into the trench with the perforations facing downward on the soil.
Step 5: Connect the Pipes
Connect the pipes to the sump or the basin once the last pipe is laid in its place. The water collection basin is where all of the water will go.
Step 6: Fill the Trench
Once everything is connected, fill the trench with water drainage gravel. The gravel is made to allow the water to go down the holes of the pipe. It will then flow down to the basin.
Make sure the gravel is not packed tight. The water must be able to flow down.
Step 7: Seal the Trench
When all is done, it is time to seal the trench with cement. It is recommended to use quick-drying cement. For safety purposes, ensure everything is level because this is also the floor to your basement.
Call Professionals or Do It Yourself?
It is naive to think only sealing and cementing the cracks can complete the job. Yes, it will hold for a time. When you do a job, the whole point is doing it, so it does not have to be done repeatedly.
If you are skilled and experienced, you can do it yourself. It still does not hurt to contact professionals to get a second eyeball on the situation. They also know the construction laws, so you will not have to worry about fines should something happen.
Safety should always be put first, and you need to have all the safety equipment first. If you do the job yourself, having a friend handy always helps.
Other Things You Can Do To Prevent Floods In the Basement
There are different things you can do to help keep the basement from flooding. We all know that no one can control the extreme, but these will help prevent flooding.
1. Keep Your Property Landscaped Regularly
The front and backyard play a significant role in how much water may get into your basement. Keep up with everything in your yard and try not to put things off level around your home.
2. Inspect the Foundation of Your Home for Cracks
If you notice there are cracks in the foundation of your home, fix them quickly. Cracks will allow water to seep into your basement. Also, look for discoloration in the cement because that will mean it is cracked.
3. Keep Up With the Sump Pump Maintenance
The sump pump should always get checked if you know there is a lot of rain coming. Make sure it is on and working and plugged in correctly.
4. Install Window Well Covers
Sealants and window well covers can prevent water from leaking into the basement. While you are doing this, check the walls of the basement on the outside for discoloration. This could mean water is getting inside.
5. Inspect the Sewage System
The sewage is where all the water will go. You want to make sure nothing is backing up.