A flooded basement ranks as one of the most common fears experienced by homeowners. Fortunately, by taking proactive measures, you can eliminate the likelihood of this disaster occurring. If you would like to improve your knowledge of the various methods used by structural engineers to prevent basement flooding, read on. This article will provide a handy overview of foundation drain tile systems.

The Basics

A foundation drain tile consists of one or more pipes buried beneath the ground. These pipes are perforated so that water can trickle into them, where it is then carried safely away from the exterior of your home. In order to accomplish this, the pipe must be angled so that gravity can move the water away. Alternately, a sump pump can be used to power the movement of the water.

Historically, the pipes used in these systems were constructed either out of clay—a fact which contributed their relatively high price tag. Today, however, thanks to the rise of inexpensive PVC, the material cost of a drain tile is much less.

Exterior Vs. Interior

Drain tile systems can be broken down into two main categories: exterior and interior. As you can probably guess, the difference between these comes down to the location of the tile, whether inside our outside of your foundation walls. In a perfect world, a drain tile system would incorporate both elements to maximize the degree of protection.

However, interior drain tiles are generally too difficult and expensive to install in a finished home. They are best incorporated when initially building the house. Those who hope to upgrade an existing home with a drain tile system will do better to install an exterior tile. When well constructed, this will divert excess water safely away from your foundation, thus keeping it from ever penetrating the walls of your home.

Exterior Drain Tile Components

While the pipe discussed above constitutes the principal component in a drain tile system, it is far from the only one. In addition, these systems generally also include gravel, filtration fabric, and a water outlet. The gravel, installed around the pipe, allows ground water to easily find its way into the pipe.

The pipe itself is sheathed in a layer of special geotextile filtration fabric. The tight weave of this fabric allows water to pass through—but not soil. Thus, unwanted dirt is kept out of the tile. Without the filtration fabric, the pipe would soon become hopelessly clogged with dirt. Finally, the water outlet must be installed at the point where the water exits the drain pipe. Generally this is at the bottom of a sloped hill. 

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