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Old 03-08-2012, 08:29 PM   #16
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Please Help Me With This French Drain System!


Some areas of older inner cities have a combined drainage system (sanitary and storm drainage) and try to encourage drainage to the surface and hope it will be absorbed. In this situation a sump with pop-ups is encouraged.
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:23 AM   #17
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Please Help Me With This French Drain System!


Do not connect gutter downspouts to your perimeter drain system.

Almost all perimeter drain systems have a pit with a sump pump.

When retrofitting a building with a perimeter drain system, either inside or outside, do not
dig below the bottom surface of the foundation footings (or foundation itself if no
footings). or below a 1:3 slope going away. For example if the trench needs to be 4 inches
below footing level it must be 12 inches away (not on centers).

You can connect downspouts to an underground drain pipe that leads away from the house that is
not connected to your perimeter drain. The former drain should be non-perforated for at least 20 feet
away from the house.

Whatever you use, the water has to be gotten rid of. Drywells may or may not be sufficient and
must be some distance from the house. If water from the street runs down your driveway into you
property, then you should mold a rounded lip of concrete or asphalt at the front to prevent that.
Quote:
"What you have described starts as a surface water problem. Subsurface drainage
is a bad idea and anything constructed that allows the landscape industry."
The first thing to do is to have no water pooling up against the house while at the same time
no water from downspouts, etc. is poured into holes near the house. It may be necessary
to regrade the land.

Subsurface pipes to a dry well are okay but need to be below the frost line in cold climates.
The output of a sump pump (or a pipe from a pumpless pit at the end of your
perimeter drain system going directly outside) can go out underground but must
ultimately end up "in daylight" from favorable surface slope, or end at a dry well with
a pump to empty it out before the perimeter drain back at the house backs up.

The perimeter drain system must have air in it over its entire length. For this reason
the sump pump pit has to be large enough that the pump can come on before the
drain pipe ends as seen in the pit are significantly submerged, and the pump not
turn on and turn off in short cycles.

Quote:
"The first step in determining proper drainage for your property should be to assess
the volume of water you have to deal with. This on neighboring properties that flows onto
your lot."
The most important thing is finding a place to put the water. Particularly if water comes
over from neighboring properties, it may be necessary for the water to be ended up
in the street.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-09-2012 at 07:08 AM.
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:30 PM   #18
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Please Help Me With This French Drain System!


A foundation drain (below the elevation of the slab) is overkill (IMHO) unless you are dealing with a high water table caused by sub-surface water.

If water is seeping up near the center of your slab or through cracks in the slab vs coming through the walls then a foundation drain would be the way to go.

That being said I think properly constructed French Drains are money well spent.

Respectfully have to disagree with pls8xx. They wouldn't have made it from the 1800's if they were a scam. They just have to be done right.
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Old 03-10-2012, 09:27 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by CplDevilDog View Post
A foundation drain (below the elevation of the slab) is overkill (IMHO) unless you are dealing with a high water table caused by sub-surface water.

If water is seeping up near the center of your slab or through cracks in the slab vs coming through the walls then a foundation drain would be the way to go.

That being said I think properly constructed French Drains are money well spent.

Respectfully have to disagree with pls8xx. They wouldn't have made it from the 1800's if they were a scam. They just have to be done right.
In addition to having Joe out; I had another professional out yesterday. He recommended almost exactly the same... a drain for the future patio at the back, going into a french drain, as the drain goes around the house; switch it to solid and run second solid pipe next to it for the downspouts.

So the back of the house would be french drain; side of the house two solid pipes. The question is if I should do dry wall or just run the pipes right out of the front hill (with the pop-up valve thingy). I just imaging having sidewalks of ice in the midwest by doing that. Which is why I liked the drywell idea.

So confused now.
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Old 03-10-2012, 02:28 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by concretemasonry View Post
Some areas of older inner cities have a combined drainage system (sanitary and storm drainage) and try to encourage drainage to the surface and hope it will be absorbed. In this situation a sump with pop-ups is encouraged.
BINGO! Not only do the old area's of Old Mil have combined sanitary & Storm, the whole Metro Milwaukee Sewage District empties into combined. The whole system isn't very old either, but was never designed for the actual amount of water it see's, which is why it's dubbed by many as "The not quite deep enough deep tunnel......" Being as such, there's no way coderguy will be able to tie into the storm sewer, because there really is no such thing, and as he mentioned, their already scratching their heads on how to get as much groundwater out of the system as possible already.

As for the actual site, there's no way IMPO to run water completely on the surface successfully: His garage,and alley, are a few feet higher than his foundation. The property lines are extremely close to his and nieghboring homes as these are likely only 40'-45' wide lots. One of the neighbering homes is higher, the other already has soil over the siding.

Coderguy, I don't really care for drywells myself, and have seen where many of them have been unsuccessful, but with your hill at the front, I think it would slowly leach out just fine most of the time. As for just having the pipes exit above grade/through the hill that will work undoubtedly, but is generally frowned upon due to the potentially dangerous conditions it creates on the sidewalk, especially ice.
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:43 PM   #21
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Jomama -

I know the MKE area reasonably well and so much of it is so flat and not far above Lake Michigan. I can understand the combined collection systems because the federal laws about dumping into the lake require some sort of treatment by and sometimes a single plant is cheaper to build and operate than tearing up the city streets and sidewalks to create two separate collection systems, especially when the downspouts are involved. At least all of Lake Michigan is in the U.S. and not an international lake like some of the other Great Lakes.

Dick
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:55 PM   #22
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Dick, the problem is the system gets over run with sewage quite a few times a year and they end up dumping tens of millions of gallons of untreated into the lake every year. They're trying to figure out a decent plan now, and so far it looks like the simplest is for them to pay to have sump pumps placed in accepting HO's basements that discharge to grade and abort the current Palmer valve in the basement floor drain.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:19 PM   #23
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That is exactly what they allowed in MSP while they split the combined collection system (over 20 years) into separate systems (sanitary and storm from surface rainfall).

There, the storm water would knock out the top drainage boards and the excess sewerage went into the Mississipi river, but only in high flow periods, so the dilution solution concept minimized the effects. The systems finally got 80-90% separated. Actually, the Mississippi river is cleaner than the Minnesota river when it enter the MSP area because of the fertilizer and silt in the Minnesota river, but a sewerage plant can't do much about that.

Dick
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:58 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by jomama45 View Post
Dick, the problem is the system gets over run with sewage quite a few times a year and they end up dumping tens of millions of gallons of untreated into the lake every year. They're trying to figure out a decent plan now, and so far it looks like the simplest is for them to pay to have sump pumps placed in accepting HO's basements that discharge to grade and abort the current Palmer valve in the basement floor drain.

I feel like I have to defend Milwaukee a bit here :-)

The last 15 years; there has been tremendous effort to improve many parts of the city, especially this water problem. There is a separate system now; and there are active programs to go through neighborhoods and find where water is getting into the wrong one and correct it.

There is also a program to go through some of the worst offending neighborhoods and get people disconnected from the laterals.

Here is an example of the awareness program (it was supposed to be a funded incentive program, but we couldn't afford it): http://basementconnection.mmsd.com/

You can see another example by visiting the lake front; where we now have rain gardens every mile or so; with signs explaining their purpose. They have a feed grate in the center for water to come up; keeping more water out of the lake. My explanation here is bad.. I'm a programmer not a landscaper :-)

I think this relates to my post in that I am voluntarily attempting to disconnect from the laterals over time (starting with the front, now the west side of the house). But being in the midwest; as discussed, dumping water on the sidewalk will result in a dangerous ice situation. Dry basement + disconnect from laterals; but with a nice benefit of getting those nasty pipes out of my basement (then remove them and add a one way valve going out to the street!)

The drywell still seems like the solution, I'd love to dig less holes; so if someone has a different idea....
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:11 PM   #25
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coderguy -

A drywell will work well if it is large enough and AND the surrounding soil will accept the water and distribute it.

Dick
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:40 PM   #26
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I always build as much slope into a drain tile as I can. It helps to increase the amount of scouring by the draining water, to reduce the amount of accumulated sediment in the pipe.

I built a French drain with a pop-up drain that works well. It is built on sandy soil, so the catch basin drains 24-48 hours after the rain stops, through holes I drilled in the bottom of the catch basin. When the water exceeds the capacity of the catch basin, the water discharges onto my lawn through the pop-up drain. The top of the catch basin is removable, for cleaning when it is needed. You can see photos of my French drain at this link: http://housengineer.com/825/
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Old 03-13-2012, 07:48 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by House Engineer View Post
I always build as much slope into a drain tile as I can. It helps to increase the amount of scouring by the draining water, to reduce the amount of accumulated sediment in the pipe.

I built a French drain with a pop-up drain that works well. It is built on sandy soil, so the catch basin drains 24-48 hours after the rain stops, through holes I drilled in the bottom of the catch basin. When the water exceeds the capacity of the catch basin, the water discharges onto my lawn through the pop-up drain. The top of the catch basin is removable, for cleaning when it is needed. You can see photos of my French drain at this link: http://housengineer.com/825/
Yes, you've posted that before in other threads. Some good pictures.
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Old 03-13-2012, 08:18 PM   #28
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Sorry about that double-post Coderguy. No wonder it seemed to sound so familiar
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Old 03-14-2012, 08:23 AM   #29
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All I have is an opinion; one that is not embraced by either homeowners or contractors. But before you dismiss my contention that few french drains are anything but a bad deal, you might consider my background.

I started following a survey crew around when I was 10 years old as they did work on civil engineering projects. By the time I finished high school I could operate all standard survey instruments and perform most common field engineering calculations. I went on to have a 50 year career with consulting engineers, contractors, and land development firms.

Rule #1, drummed into my head by my father before I turned 15, for every project built on, or a part of, terra firma:
The first thing to consider in design, and the first thing to do in construction, is to take positive control of the water.



I have no motive for what I say here; no book for sale or other means to make a profit. But the people who sell the materials for subsurface drainage and the ones that install them do; they make their living giving homeowners what they ask for, and frankly a lot of homeowners are practically begging them to take the money.


Now I speak not against a properly constructed perimeter drain at footer level where all the other aspects of surface drainage have been attended to. Such perimeter drains are good insurance and seldom are required to pump much water. And yes, the very small amount of water from a basement sump can be discharged to a dry well some distance from the home if the amount is no more than 5 to 10 gal. per day. Dry wells for yard water where the surface drainage is bad are a joke.


Proper surface water management prevents the soil from becoming wet from the start. On flat ground, if the soil is allowed to absorb water until it is saturated, there is seldom a good fix to the problem. Every site is different and it is usually necessary to do an in-depth study to determine how to best handle surface drainage. French drains are promoted as a one-size-fits-all solution. If the surface flow is corrected, most french drains are not needed, and if the surface drainage is ignored, they seldom get the desired result.


One might ask why french drains sometimes appear to have solved the problem. Several years ago I talked to a friend that is a landscape contractor that does mostly commercial but also some residential work. I expressed my distaste for the inappropriate use of shallow french drains. His reply went something like this:


"Well yes, but what you fail to consider is that homeowners want a french drain. So I do them .... sometimes. What I do is look at the site. If I can spot an easy way to fix the surface drainage, I tell the homeowner that the french drain should be located in the area I need to work on to correct the surface drainage and that the heavy equipment used will tear up a wide path. Not to worry, I'm going to fix it all back better than before. After fixing the surface drainage, I compact the drain trench so that little if any water ever gets to it. If I can't do it that way I walk and let some other noob have the job. I never get a call back for a french drain not working because it doesn't need to work."


"Am I selling something not needed? Maybe, but if I don't do the french drain, the homeowner just gives the job to someone that will. In the end I fix the homeowner's problem and they don't complain. If my competitors do a french drain to fix a surface problem and it doesn't work they get a lot of bad will. I don't need that."



No one likes to think they wasted their money. Homeowners that spend a lot to have a french drain built may recognize that the problem was not totally fixed but they like to think the situation is better than it was.



So, how bad can it get? I found this blog ...


Wet Basement
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Old 03-18-2012, 01:11 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pls8xx View Post
All I have is an opinion; one that is not embraced by either homeowners or contractors. But before you dismiss my contention that few french drains are anything but a bad deal, you might consider my background.

I started following a survey crew around when I was 10 years old as they did work on civil engineering projects. By the time I finished high school I could operate all standard survey instruments and perform most common field engineering calculations. I went on to have a 50 year career with consulting engineers, contractors, and land development firms.

Rule #1, drummed into my head by my father before I turned 15, for every project built on, or a part of, terra firma:
The first thing to consider in design, and the first thing to do in construction, is to take positive control of the water.



I have no motive for what I say here; no book for sale or other means to make a profit. But the people who sell the materials for subsurface drainage and the ones that install them do; they make their living giving homeowners what they ask for, and frankly a lot of homeowners are practically begging them to take the money.


Now I speak not against a properly constructed perimeter drain at footer level where all the other aspects of surface drainage have been attended to. Such perimeter drains are good insurance and seldom are required to pump much water. And yes, the very small amount of water from a basement sump can be discharged to a dry well some distance from the home if the amount is no more than 5 to 10 gal. per day. Dry wells for yard water where the surface drainage is bad are a joke.


Proper surface water management prevents the soil from becoming wet from the start. On flat ground, if the soil is allowed to absorb water until it is saturated, there is seldom a good fix to the problem. Every site is different and it is usually necessary to do an in-depth study to determine how to best handle surface drainage. French drains are promoted as a one-size-fits-all solution. If the surface flow is corrected, most french drains are not needed, and if the surface drainage is ignored, they seldom get the desired result.


One might ask why french drains sometimes appear to have solved the problem. Several years ago I talked to a friend that is a landscape contractor that does mostly commercial but also some residential work. I expressed my distaste for the inappropriate use of shallow french drains. His reply went something like this:


"Well yes, but what you fail to consider is that homeowners want a french drain. So I do them .... sometimes. What I do is look at the site. If I can spot an easy way to fix the surface drainage, I tell the homeowner that the french drain should be located in the area I need to work on to correct the surface drainage and that the heavy equipment used will tear up a wide path. Not to worry, I'm going to fix it all back better than before. After fixing the surface drainage, I compact the drain trench so that little if any water ever gets to it. If I can't do it that way I walk and let some other noob have the job. I never get a call back for a french drain not working because it doesn't need to work."


"Am I selling something not needed? Maybe, but if I don't do the french drain, the homeowner just gives the job to someone that will. In the end I fix the homeowner's problem and they don't complain. If my competitors do a french drain to fix a surface problem and it doesn't work they get a lot of bad will. I don't need that."



No one likes to think they wasted their money. Homeowners that spend a lot to have a french drain built may recognize that the problem was not totally fixed but they like to think the situation is better than it was.



So, how bad can it get? I found this blog ...


Wet Basement
I have to be honest, I feel you haven't even been reading the thread; just blindly responding.
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