French drains are of great benefit to your foundation. But like all things, maintenance is very important to ensure that it continues working properly, specially given the extreme weathers that we sometimes have to endure.
We know that water and moisture are the arch-nemesis of our foundations. A french drain will be a crucial tool to avoid water and moisture from reaching your foundation, specially if the house has been built over expansive clay soil. Which is pretty much the entirety of our lovely Dallas Forth Worth Metroplex, unfortunately.
As it is only natural, with time, any drain system can get clogged, compromising its functionality. And over time, sediments can accumulate, reducing its ability to redirect rainwater. Drainage fabric is crucial for french drains as is lining it up perfectly so it can actively help reduce the problem of clogging due to soil and leaves, also preventing roots and weeds from growing into the drain. Choosing the right type of rocks for your french drain, avoiding smaller sizes, will achieve better flow rates. Remember to avoid crushed rock which might clog the inlets.
With the coldest time of the year incoming however, we want to focus on tips to keep your water flowing during the winter. And like many things, it goes all the way back to prevention. Now, this first step is to clean your gutters and should be a regular maintenance task starting in autumn, specially if your house is surrounded by deciduous trees, which are the ones whose leaves fall off during this season. So, make sure to clear the pathway as this is imperative to avoid blockages that could cause damage or buildup or could simply render your entire french drain system useless, allowing water to go towards your foundation once again.
Now, if you are only about to install a french drain, then this piece of advice is going to be very useful. Installing the french drain below the frost line will ensure its optimal performance all year long, regardless of snow or freezing temperatures. By doing this and digging deeper you will be able to avoid obstructions that could be caused by frozen water due to the freezing and thawing cycles.
Also, one thing that you must keep in mind, is that contrary to what one might believe, french drains are not made to catch the additional water coming from the gutters. Gutters are to direct water away from your home and foundation while french drains minimize the impact of flash flooding and other types of water that you might have near your foundation. If your gutters dump water directly to your french drain it might get clogged up with debris, rendering it ineffective.
So for this, we highly recommend installing a catch basin for better rainwater management as it will also catch leaves and other debris that is washed out of your gutters and preventing it from entering your french drain and clogging it.
Remember that the most important tool at your disposal to protect your french drain is routine maintenance. This will ensure that your systems continues to work as it should be and will help to avoid costly repairs that could happen due to sediment buildup, shifting soil and roots. Not to mention that as long as the french drainage is well-functioning it will protect your home and preserve its value as it manages water buildup, prevent soil displacement, erosion and foundation damage. It also mitigates health risks, as stagnant water and moisture can be a breeding ground for mosquitos and other pests as well leading to mold and mildew growth; real health risks for you and your family. On top of that french drains can also have environmental benefits as they reduce risks of pollution by preventing runoff water from reaching water bodies.
All in all french drains provide amazing benefits for your home and foundation. And in return they require very little maintenance. So make sure to regularly inspect your system and how well it is working, and if you suspect it might not be working as it should ,don’t forget to call us, to help you diagnose and fix any issues that might be present. Remember that the best solution will always be prevention.