Installation of french drain in finished basement

buckrogers71August 31, 2011

Irene was gracious enough to flood our basement. We dont have a sump pump or anything similar. So we need to get that taken care of. I have had 3 companies come out to look at what we have. All prices are in the same ballpark.

2 of the companies say that I can leave my exsisting wall up (finished side of basement) and install the french drain, the other wants me to cut out about a foot of drywall and remove my bottom plate on my wall.

my question is, can i get away with not removing the drywall and bottom plate or should i remove it? Either way it is going to get done, but i wanted to see if any of you have been through this.

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If the surrounding streets and yards are under a foot or more of water, I don't think interior weepers are going to be of much help. You'll fill up the sump and pump it where?? To the outside yard? To the overwhelmed city storm or combined sewers?

If you have a continuing basement water problem, the solution is to stop the water before it breaches your walls. That means a membrane and exterior weepers. And even then you'll face the same problem if your whole neighbourhood is under standing water. And it's way too late to waterproof under the basement slab. So you won't stop water from a rising water table. Sometimes Mother Nature doesn't take "No!" for an answer.

Still sold on interior weepers--and those salesmen are convincing, I know--I don't see that it makes much difference where they put in their weepers. As long as there's lots of gravel under the concrete to channel the water to the weepers. Some builders pour the concrete floor slab right on the native soil. You'll find out when they start breaking it up.

Flooding in Staten Island, N.Y.C. from Hurricane Irene

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 10:09PM
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thanks for the post. our neighborhood drains fine. no flooding where i am at. i would say that we had about 24 hrs of water coming in and now nothing. Its just these big rains that kill us.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 7:20AM
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I don't mean to hijack this thread but I'm curious about the efficiency of french drains also. In my area neighbor's saw their basements flooded several times in the past 5 years from severe storms, when they said they hadn't seen water there at all for the 25 years they had been in the house before then. Seems like the environment has changed.
We are planning on renovating our basement. We have not had water in the basement but I'm realizing that's not necessarily a guarantee for the future. We do get water in the garage, which is below the first floor of the house. Besides a french drain, what other preventions could be put in place?
Thank you.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 9:38PM
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Indeed, French drains (weepers) are not a cure all. The other preventives you can take, are:

--correcting outside grading so the water flows away from the structure.

-- installing or repairing downspouts and eavestrough.

--taking downspout water away from the foundation area using long underground drains a few inches under the soil.

Plastic bubble membranes, invented in Europe by Cosella, work two ways.
They keep water from reaching the foundation; and if it does, they allow it
to flow freely down the wall to the weepers.

Finally, you can bring your home or other structure up to current standards and above. This involves excavating around the perimeter of the building down to the footings. At that point, the building can then be covered in peel and stick waterproofing, spray-on materials and/or wrapped in a plastic bubble membrane. Weepers are usually recommended, followed by a couple feet of free draining gravel, sometimes followed by more free draining material, fabric and a clay cap.

Peel and stick waterproofing materials are sometimes used
in conjunction with plastic bubble membranes

These are the most common approaches. But there are others too, including insulation, penetrating sealers on the inside, or the old reliable layers of saturated cloth and fibrated asphalt.

Spray-on waterproofing can bridge small cracks and is best used with membrane wraps

All these approaches involve other details as well. The best time to consider waterproofing is before construction starts, as none of the above retrofits address the basement floor or underside of the slab.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 8:45AM
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"Irene was gracious enough to flood our basement. "

How badly?

How many times are you anticipating a hurricane?

Virginia is not the Gulf Coast or Florida.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 3:42PM
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@ brickeyee. It ruined the pad of our rug in one part of the basement, but we were on top of it during the hurricane. However after the rain stoppoed we were in the basement with the shop vac for 12 hrs sucking up the water.

I live in New Jersey.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 9:27PM
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I was curious about this as well. I live in NJ and had the same question. Did you find a good company that would install the french drain without tearing up the walls? I've got mold resistant sheetrock up so I would rather keep the walls there.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 10:32AM
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