Clogged Basement French Drain?

markbeanDecember 9, 2009

Our basement has a French drain but yet it still gets wet. The house is eight years old and we have lived in it for two and a half years. The previous owners said that they did get water in the basement after heavy rains but that the problem went away after they had the landscaping regraded and pipes put in to bring the gutter drainage away from the house. While we always got a some water in the basement after heavy rains, we have noticed that the problem has gotten much worse. I removed the sealed cover (for radon suppression) from the sump pump hole and I noticed that the sump pump wasn't working. After replacing the float, the pump is now working but even after heavy rains (like the one we had last night which put a considerable amount of water in our basement) no water enters the sump hole. My assessment is that we have a clog in the French drain. Is that a reasonable assessment or should I be looking into other potential causes?

I've included a link to a picture of one of the problem spots. The water is seeping up the walls which are sealed. When I vacuum up the water from the floor, more immediately comes streaming in.

If this is a clogged French drain, how do I unclog it? This spot is of course on the complete opposite and of the basement from the drainage hole. There doesn't seem to be any access points. Is this a problem I can resolve on my own? if not, what type of professional should I be hiring? How frequently will a French drain get clogged? Can I do any regular maintenance to reduce the occurrences?

Thank you!


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My assessment is that we have a clog in the French drain. (aka, sub-grade perimeter drain)

Sounds right if you were getting water in the sump before and aren't now. Clogging up after just eight years suggests that the builder may not have used a geotextile wrapped drain and/or was stingy with the amount of gravel cover he used.

Give a drain service a call. But I don't think they can clean the soft black pipe.

In any case, in a severe rain the footing drains aren't that much help. By the time the water percolates down to the drain, it's also found its way in along the foundation wall through the inevitable tiny cracks.

The best preventative would have been the installation of a drainage membrane, such asDelta MS, as the house was being built, followed by backfilling with a free-flowing granular material such as sand.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 8:23PM
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run a snake through it and follow it with a camera inspection should cost about 250$ to do if the line is clogged with dirt it may need to be backwashed
christopher cousins
cousins drain contracting
toronto ontario
416 995 2855
i snake drains for a living

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 6:26PM
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I had understood that the flexible plastic drains could be cut to shreds by the sharp cleaning heads.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 6:47PM
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