Even people without any interest or knowledge in DIY recognize the importance of keeping water away from your foundations. As the name suggests, the foundation is the base upon which your home is built, so allowing water to soak in and cause damage is the last thing you would ever want. For those of you who live in regions where basements are prominent, a french drain will also prevent a flooded basement.
French drains are an excellent solution to this problem ensuring that the water is diverted away from the property with relative ease. French drains did not originate in France though, as many people believe, they are named after their inventor Henry Flagg French of Massachusetts.
Modern French drains are effectively a plastic pipe, with holes drilled in the lower part of the pipe. The pipe is then buried in the ground ideally under gravel. The theory behind French drains is that water will always take the straightest and easiest path to flow, so the purpose of the drain is to take advantage of that knowledge and simply direct the water to flow in the way you want it to, in this case away from your property.
The important piece of knowledge with any French drain is to ensure the holes in the pipe are facing the bottom and not the top. The reason for this once you understand it is very simple. As the water starts to flow and it starts to build up the level of the water starts to increase. For our purposes, we want to get that water into the pipe and away from our property as quickly as possible. This is why we have the holes facing downwards and then the water doesn’t have to rise very far, before it starts to flow into the holes, and away via the pipe.
Many people make the mistake of fitting the pipe with the holes pointing up to the sky, but of course, if you are using a six-inch pipe, for instance, they the water level has to get to maybe 5 inches before it reaches the holes and enters the pipe. This is the total opposite of what you are trying to achieve and means that you are actually preventing the water from flowing away.
There are many videos and instructions that you can watch on the internet if you are still a little uncertain. This video, in particular, explains and demonstrates the entire procedure very well, and sometimes for this type of job, a picture is worth a thousand words. This is actually one of those DIY jobs that is relatively simple to accomplish, but will make you feel proud of the job you have accomplished.
Just remember the idea is to have the water flowing away from your property, it still has to end up somewhere, so ensure you know exactly where. Then remember that the holes in the pipe have to be facing down towards the ground, otherwise, you could end up causing the very problem you are trying to solve.