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Do you need a drain tile system? Everything you need to know!

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What is a drain tile system?


Drain tile, or “French drains”, are common drainage systems that are used to direct groundwater away from your home’s foundations, saving the structure from costly water damage.


A modern drain tile system is made up of a series of perforated PVC or plastic piping that runs around the perimeter of the building, against the foundations. A layer of stones is used as a filter and surrounds the piping, and a fabric filter such as landscape fabric is added on top to prevent further soils and sediment from entering and clogging the pipes. Backfill soil is then placed on top of the system and the area can be landscaped normally.


An exterior drain tile system will use gravity to remove groundwater from the house via a created or natural slope, or else will direct water into a drainage pit where a sump pump can then remove it. Pumped water will either be drained into a drainage pit that is at a distance from the structure or straight out of the ground where it can filter back into the soil or else into city sewer systems.


Most modern homes are built with the drain tile system installed during the initial foundation phase of their construction. But older homes may need to have a new system installed or an old one repaired or replaced due to groundwater seepage over time. 


There are two basic types of drain tile systems:


1) The interior drain tile system

Internal drain tiles are cheaper, quicker (1-2 days installation), and create less damage and mess than trying to install an exterior system on an existing home. A two-foot trench is jackhammered into the foundation of the basement around the inner perimeter, and a bed of stone and then piping is laid. Concrete is re-poured with a two-inch gap to allow for water runoff from the walls and floor, and water is pumped into a collection pit and then out of the house via an electric sump pump. 

Problems may arise with this option if gaps become clogged, if an inferior sump pump is installed, or if the installer fails to provide a back-up battery-powered pump in the case of power outages. 


2) The exterior drain tile system

Installing an exterior drain tile system on an existing home can be costly and time-consuming. The area surrounding the house must first be completely cleared to begin the installation, including landscaping, hardscaping, decks, sidewalks, or stairs. 

These elements can be very expensive to replace and this disruption can leave the exterior of your home looking bare for years.


How do I know if my drain tile system is clogged?


A drain tile system can work reliably for many years. But as sediments build, settling occurs and tree roots grow through the pipes, drain tiles can be vulnerable to clogging which can lead to flooding and water damage to the structure of your home. 


There are some signs that are signals of a clogged or damaged drain tile system:


  • Exterior puddling that gathers at one point against your house. This could also mean that your yard is not adequately sloped away from your home or that your downspouts are not moving water properly away from the building.
  • Water stains on your basement walls. This is often followed by flooding if it is not addressed right away. 
  • Water pooling in your basement. 


Drain tile repair and replacement


Drain tile can become clogged or broken from several different factors. The build-up in sediment, especially at the corners of your piping, can lead to backups and clogging. Tree roots also have a tendency to grow into and around piping that can cause sediment and soil fragments to become caught. Another common occurrence is the compacting of original material used to create sloping under the drain tiles, causing the slope to level or even a reverse slope. This will result in the pooling of water and sediment around your drain tile piping.


If you suspect your drain tile system is clogged or broken, it is important that you have an expert come to assess the damage right away before serious water damage to the structure of your home occurs. 


During the initial damage assessment, a device with a camera will be run through your drainage lines to find the affected area. If it is found to be an isolated case of damage or spot clogging, a new drain tile system can be retrofitted to that area to fix the problem. 


In many cases, however, the replacement of the entire system might be necessary, in which case the installation of an interior or exterior drain tile system will be determined according to your budget and other details of your situation.


It is important to never attempt the repair or replacement of a drain tile system without consulting with an expert first, as mistakes can be costly and cause more damage than they fix.


If you think you may have a clogged or damaged drain tile system, call Ashton Service Group today for an assessment by one of our qualified professionals. Click here to explore our hydro drain tile services and request a proposal today.

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