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The most essential thing that every single building needs is a foundation that can hold the weight throughout the entire structure, going all the way to the ground. This is the most critical aspect in order to protect your home. And a proper drainage system goes hand in hand with this. Moisture can be a real (and constant) pain in the neck, proving to be a real threat to your foundation. As a homeowner it is of the outmost importance to avoid moisture at all costs.

Before we go on any further, let us clarify that by foundation drainage we refer to the exterior foundation drains that are installed on the outer end of your foundation and footing. If it is hard to visualize it is because most of the time foundation drains are covered and backfilled in order to remain hidden. You know, aesthetics and all. 

In short, the function of a foundation drain is to get rid of any excess water in order to avoid it from seeping into your foundation. It basically waterproofs it; keeping it safe from exposure to excess moisture, which would begin to deteriorate the foundation in no time; leading to all sorts of damages both minor and major. Damages that could prove both dangerous to both you, your family and home. Not to mention costly.

Besides preventing accumulation of water and its penetration into your home’s structure it will also lower the chances of settlement issues. It will help with soil erosion, minimize chances of mold and mildew and will reduce risks of pest infestation and termites.

Now, the catch here is that sometimes homeowners, specially those with pier and beam foundations, are not aware of the damage taking place in the foundation when there is no proper foundation drainage until late. That is because unlike homes with basements, the signs are not going to be as visible. By the time they take notice of the damage, is because they are already dealing with different foundation issues.

But what are the alternatives? Well there are different types of foundation drainage which we will cover just below so you can determine which is the ideal for your home.

First we will cover a drainage system that we’ve talked about before: the french drain, also known as weeping drain. A drain pipe that consists of small perforations on the surface and covered with porous backfill. The backfill creates a direct access for the water to reach the pipe while the holes or perforations allow it to easily drain (or weep) into the pipe, carrying it away from the structure. This is actually the most common of the drainage types and amongst its virtues is that it will prevent flooding, can last up to 30 years, it’s cost effective and it is actually quite aesthetically pleasing. However, the installation process can be long, and existing structures might have to be removed in order to install it. Also, a disadvantage that it has is that it may no be suitable for homes close to water sources or power lines.

The next system is called footing drain and it is a very effective one. Basically it is a french drain installed around the perimeter of the foundation walls, leveled at its footing. It is also covered in a porous backfill material like gravel and coarse sand allowing the water to seep through, to the perforated pipe. Its installation requires a slope to carry the water away, usually to a sump pump or sewer. Or body of water if one is near.

Just like a french drain it prevents accumulation of water around the foundation, helping to avoid settlement. If installed properly it has up to a 50 year life span! However they can be prone to clogging when there is mud accumulation, so maintenance is required.

Grading drainage is also quite an effective way to provide drainage around a home foundation. A slope is created around the perimeter of the home, leading away from foundation. Generally this is installed at the same time as the building of the foundation, ensuring that water is expelled into the nearest stormwater drain. However sometimes a secondary drainage system is needed as backup to ensure all water is drained away effectively from your home.

The great thing about grading drainage is that it can naturally redirect water flow to a landscape or drain without clogging risks. It is inexpensive, ti increases usable space and can be a great asset when landscaping. There is the potential risk however, of over saturation of garden soils and potential for ponding water, which in turn might become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Finally sump pit and pumps drainage. This is best for placeas with heavy rain and snowfall. Where gradients and slopes aren enough to worry the water away from your home. A sump and pump system is made out of a catch basin, which will collect a certain amount of water and then begin to pump the water out. The sump pump has a sensor trigger, which is activated when the water rises to a certain predetermined level. Once it activates it pushes away water from the home, through perforated pipes directly into a storm sewer. This method is excellent for wet basements. They can protect against sewage backups and will increase property value. However since they run on electricity they will require batter backup in case of outages. They will require sump pumps beneath your home, which is a potential risk for radon gas leakage. And to be honest…, well, they are not the most attractive thing there is.

Remember, that a food drainage system is absolutely necessary to secure your home. With out it your foundation is in constant risk of deterioration, putting your family at risk. Not to mention amounting to costly repairs.

And while we have gone through the general characteristics and workings of the different types of foundation drainage, figuring out which method is best for your property can be challenging, so give as a call and let us assess your home and property and provide expert feedback so you can make an informed decision as to which method is best for you.

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