All You Need to Know About French Drains: A Comprehensive Guide

Nov 1, 2023 | News

Are you dealing with poor drainage in your yard or basement? French drains might be the solution you’ve been searching for. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to know about French drains, from what they are to how they work.

French drains are a proven method for effectively diverting water away from your property and preventing water damage. They consist of a trench filled with perforated pipe and surrounded by gravel or rock. The design allows water to enter the pipe through the holes and flow away from your home.

In this guide, we will cover the various types of French drains, their installation process, and the benefits they offer. You will learn how French drains can prevent basement flooding, control erosion, and protect your foundation. We will also discuss maintenance tips to ensure your French drain remains efficient for years to come.

Whether you are a homeowner dealing with a soggy yard or a contractor looking for drainage solutions, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about French drains. Say goodbye to water woes and keep your property dry with this essential information.

What is a French drain?

A French drain is a type of drainage system that redirects water away from your property. It consists of a trench filled with perforated pipe and surrounded by gravel or rock. The perforated pipe allows water to enter through the holes and flow away from your home. The design of a French drain ensures that water is diverted away from your property, preventing damage to your home’s foundation, basement, or yard.

There are different types of French drains, including exterior French drains, interior French drains, and curtain French drains. Exterior French drains are installed around the perimeter of your home’s foundation, while interior French drains are installed inside your basement. Curtain French drains, on the other hand, are installed uphill from a slope to prevent water from flowing down towards your property.

How does a French drain work?

A French drain works by redirecting water away from your property. The system is designed to collect water from the surrounding area and divert it away from your home’s foundation. The perforated pipe in the trench allows water to enter through the holes and flow away from your home. The gravel or rock surrounding the pipe helps to filter out debris and prevent clogging.

French drains use gravity to redirect water away from your property. The trench is sloped to ensure that water flows away from your home. The system can be connected to a sump pump, which pumps the water out to a designated area. This ensures that water doesn’t collect around your home’s foundation and cause damage.

Benefits of installing a French drain

There are several benefits to installing a French drain, including:

Prevents Basement Flooding

A French drain is an effective way to prevent basement flooding. If you have a basement that is prone to flooding, a French drain can help to redirect water away from your home’s foundation. This can prevent water from seeping into your basement and causing damage.

Controls Erosion

Erosion can be a problem for homeowners, especially if you have a sloped yard. A French drain can help to control erosion by redirecting water away from your property. This can prevent soil erosion and keep your yard looking beautiful.

Protects Your Foundation

Water can be damaging to your home’s foundation. If water is allowed to collect around your home’s foundation, it can cause the foundation to weaken and crack. A French drain can help to protect your foundation by redirecting water away from your home.

Signs that you need a French drain

If you are experiencing any of the following signs, you may need a French drain:

– Standing water in your yard

– Water seeping into your basement

– Cracks in your foundation

– Soil erosion in your yard

– Mold or mildew in your basement

If you are experiencing any of these signs, it’s important to contact a professional to assess the situation and determine if a French drain is necessary.

Factors to consider before installing a French drain

Before installing a French drain, there are several factors to consider, including:


The cost of installing a French drain can vary depending on the size of your property and the complexity of the installation. It’s important to get a quote from a professional before proceeding with the installation.

Soil Type

The type of soil on your property can affect the effectiveness of a French drain. If the soil is too dense, water may not be able to drain properly. A professional can assess the soil type and determine if a French drain is appropriate.

Property Slope

The slope of your property can also affect the effectiveness of a French drain. If your property is too flat, water may not be able to drain properly. A professional can assess the property slope and determine if a French drain is appropriate.

Steps to install a French drain

Installing a French drain is a complex process that should be done by a professional. The steps involved in installing a French drain include:

1. Excavating a trench around the perimeter of your home’s foundation or in the designated area.

2. Lining the trench with landscape fabric to prevent soil and debris from entering the trench.

3. Adding a layer of gravel to the bottom of the trench.

4. Installing the perforated pipe in the trench and connecting it to a sump pump if necessary.

5. Covering the pipe with gravel or rock to prevent clogging.

6. Backfilling the trench with soil and compacting it.

Maintenance and care for a French drain

To ensure that your French drain remains effective, it’s important to perform regular maintenance. This includes:

– Removing debris from the top of the drain.

– Flushing out the drain with a hose to remove any buildup.

– Checking the sump pump regularly to ensure it is functioning properly.

Common mistakes to avoid when installing a French drain

There are several common mistakes that homeowners make when installing a French drain. These include:

– Installing the drain too close to the foundation, which can cause water to seep into the basement.

– Using the wrong size of perforated pipe, which can lead to clogging.

– Not sloping the trench properly, which can prevent water from draining away from the home.

French drain vs. other drainage systems

French drains are just one type of drainage system that can be used to control water flow on your property. Other drainage systems include:

– Surface drains, which are designed to collect water on the surface and direct it away from your property.

– Swales, which are shallow ditches that are designed to channel water away from your property.

– Dry wells, which are underground structures that collect water and allow it to percolate into the soil.

The type of drainage system that is best for your property will depend on several factors, including the slope of your property, the soil type, and the severity of the water problem.


French drains are an effective way to prevent water damage, erosion, and foundation issues. If you are experiencing any signs of water damage, a French drain may be the solution you need. Before proceeding with the installation, it’s important to consider factors such as cost, soil type, and property slope. It’s also important to have a professional assess the situation and install the French drain for you. With regular maintenance and care, your French drain can keep your property dry for years to come.

Why use Drain Blasters?

Cutting edge technology

Drain Blasters only works with the latest technology and equipment, using high pressure water-jetting.

Portable equipment

Our portable equipment can be carried into buildings and lifts in order to access those hard to reach places.

Scalable Equipment

Our fleet ranges in capacity and size from 1 to 10 tonne waste removal capacity and drain clearing capabilities, suitable for residential and industrial blockages.


Highly experienced teams

Our teams are made up of highly experienced individuals who are professional and friendly

24/7 Service

We are on call 24/7 to assist in the case of emergencies and short notice service

Competitive Prices

We offer highly competitive pricing while maintaining a high level of service

Our Services

Drain Clearing

Our experienced experts are available around-the-clock and are equipped with the latest drain clearing tools and technology to get the job done fast and effectively.

Liquid Waste Removal

We offer a professional, socially responsible & price effective solution as a leader in liquid waste management.

Septic Tank Cleaning

We specialize in septic tank cleaning and drainage, whereby we pump out and clean the contents of septic tanks.

Grease Trap Cleaning

Our grease trap cleaning process ensures a free flowing drainage system and alleviates odours in your workplace in a systematic, discreet and environmentally friendly manner.

Grease Traps

We proudly install grease traps into restaurants and institutions which require filtration of grease, fats, and oils from their wastewater.

Sewage Removal

We have extensive expertise and experience in resolving sewerage blockages of all sizes, with special care taken to dispose of sewage safely and effectively.

Areas We Service

Drain Blasters services almost all areas across Cape Town and Surrounding Areas

Airport Industria | Athlone | Atlantic Seaboard | Atlantis | Bakoven | Bantry Bay | Bellville | Bergvliet | Bishopscourt | Blackheath | Bloubergstrand | Bo-Kaap | Boland | Bothasig | Brackenfell | Brooklyn | Camps Bay | Capri Village | CBC | Century City | Claremont | Clifton | Clovelly | Constantia | Crawford | Crossroads | Culemborg | Darling | De Waterkant | Devil's Peak Estate | Diep River | Durbanville | Edgemead | Eersteriver | Elsie's River | Epping | Epping 2 | Epping 1 | Fish Hoek | Foreshore | Franschoek | Fresnaye | Gardens | Glencairn | Goodwood | Gordon's Bay | Green Point | Harfield Village | Heathfield | Hout Bay | Imizamo Yethu | Kalk Bay | Kenilworth | Kenwyn | Killarney Gardens | Kirstenhof | Kommetjie | Kraaifontein | Kreupelbosch | Kuils River | Lakeside | Lansdowne | Llandudno | Lotus River | Maitland | Malmesbury | Mamre | Meadowridge | Melkbosstrand | Milnerton | Montague Gardens | Mouille Point | Mowbray | Muizenberg | Ndabeni | Newlands | Noordhoek | Northern Suburbs | Observatory | Ocean View | Oranjezicht | Paarden Island | Paarl | Panorama | Parklands | Parow | Philippi Industrial | Pinelands | Pinelands | Plattekloof | Plumstead | Retreat | Rondebosch | Rondebosch East | Rosebank | Rugby | Sacks Circle | Salt River | Scarborough | Schotsche Kloof | Sea Point | Simon's Town | Somerset West | Southern Suburbs | SouthField | St James | Steenberg | Stellenbosch | Stikland | Strand | Sun Valley | Sunnydale | Table View | Tamboerskloof | Thornton | Three Anchor Bay | Tokai | Vredehoek | Waterfront | Wellington | West Beach | Wetton | Woodstock | Wynberg | Zonnebloem