Drainage/french drain depths and pipe type

jamesbodellJanuary 23, 2006

My 100 year old barn with ruble foundation is wet underneath! The soil is saturated and sometimes has puddles. If I dig into the soil, I usually get water leaching into puddles in the low spots. A few inches under the soil is ledge.

This has taken it toll over the years in the form of rot and I want to address it now.

In order to prevent the water from running under the house, I have dug a trench on the high side of the house down two feet and to the ledge, about 5 feet from the house so as not to disturb the ruble foundation. I intend to build a french drain to carry the water running along the ledge away from the house.

I will fill the bottom foot of the trench with gravel and pipe, surrounded by landscape fabric, and then bury. I also plan to tie in the down spouts.

My question is, what type of drainage pipe can I use. I have two kinds, the black flexible pipe that comes in 100 foot rolls, and the SCH 40 drainge. Can I use the black pipe here? Is there a possibility of crushing this stuff if I bury it too deep? Cost is my main concern here, but I would prefer not to do this again. But I think the sch 40 might be over kill here.

What do you all think?

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Unless you're driving over it, black corrogated pipe will be fine. You can use a combo here if you must cross a driving path, putting solid piping under the place with the biggest load, and lighter stuff elsewhere. The black stuff is also better if you must do a curve.

But, ya know, French drains (at least the ones I'm familiar with and have installed) don't actually have pipe, just coarse rubble. They are basically rubble-filled trenches. Trenches with pipes are called tile lines (in the old days the pipes were terracotta).

However, if you are tying your down spouts in, then I'd definitely use pipe on the whole length as that amount of water over short periods might overwhelm a rubble pathway.

Another thing, is that I wouldn't delay getting those trenches backfilled. I'm not sure what your climate is, but you wouldn't want spring run-off to enlarge the ditches and threaten the stability of the earth close to your foundation.

And I wasn't sure if your question about the drainage related to two buildings (barn and house) or if you were jocularly referring to your house as a barn?

Have you thought of installing a good-quality vapor barrier directly on the soil under the buildings to interupt the upward migration of soil moisture to protect the wood components?


    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 3:46PM
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Thanks for the answer, black pipe it is. Much cheaper and as you state, easier to navigate a non straight trench. I do have a tractor but won't driver over this too much as it is too close to the house.

Yes, my house is part barn. The barn was the orginal structure, which was added onto.

As for crawlspace, I intend to put insulation board between the joists (that can be removed if I need to repair rot etc) and a plastic vapor barrier on the ground, but I 1st want to address the water flowing under the structure, then possibly a sump, then the plastic.

Also, as you state, I intend to finish the trench in the next few days. Its getting colder so I am OK for now, but I don't want the trench to heave in.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 11:27AM
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Sounds like a good plan! Your situation may improve somewhat over time as you make the local drainage more efficient and get the surface water runoff directed away. This may allow the soil to dry out more than you expect. Good luck.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 2:35PM
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My thoughts too.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 3:23PM
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