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Old 03-18-2012, 01:15 PM   #31
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Please Help Me With This French Drain System!


So I did the test dry well this weekend;

Took a post hole digger and went 4 feet down. Poured in a 5 gallon bucket of water. It drained quickly at first; then drained at just under 3 minutes per inch. When it got low (and I had to leave); I poured another 5 gallons of water in. When I returned home the hole was empty.

I checked it again this morning, and the hole isn't "dry", but there is no standing water / etc.

Should I test more? Is the drainage good enough? (when coupled with overflow spout)

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Old 03-19-2012, 09:36 AM   #32
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Hey man, I haven't read every post on here, but I HIGHLY recommend not using dry wells. Is there any way to just daylight the water away somewhere? Even if you can't get 2% pitch of fall on the pipe.. it's better to do that then use dry wells. My company never uses dry wells, they just don't work well. ***embedded links not allowed***
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Old 03-20-2012, 04:54 PM   #33
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So the guys did the work on the basement yesterday/today. They apparently thought I was doing this soon, as they left the foundation mostly dug out.

So I need to make a decision quick; buy equipment and get to work.

If you think the french drain or the dry well is a poor idea; please speak up soon and say WHY (after reading the thread). Please also suggest an alternative in my situation.

If you think it may work, please post any tips or encouragement.

I had a horrible time with the contractors today; as they raised their price before they left.
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Old 03-20-2012, 05:14 PM   #34
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If a drywell is the only feasible option for you, then do it. I am just saying that if possible, it would be better to simply daylight the water out ontop of the ground somewhere rather than into the ground. There are times when a lot is too flat to have any kindof drain, and I suppose a drywell would have to work. Like someone mentioned on this thread before, just don't tie the gutters into the perimiter drain. I don't think it would handle it, and then your gutters would back up, and then you would have another problem to deal with. And here's another statistic to think about(sorry to throw all this at you). I read in a drainage magazine that 1 inch of rainfall on a 2,000 sq ft residential roof generates 1,100 gallons of water. How big are your drywells going to be if they need to collect 1100 gallons just from your roof? If they can't take the water, your gutters will just start blowing out against your foundation. I hope this helps you make your decision, let me know how it all turns out. Good luck friend!

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Old 03-20-2012, 05:22 PM   #35
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Like someone mentioned on this thread before, just don't tie the gutters into the perimiter drain. I don't think it would handle it, and then your gutters would back up, and then you would have another problem to deal with.

So where would you suggest to drain the gutters to? My sidewalk? The thread discusses using an overflow drain; which is exactly what I plan.

If I don't disconnect from the laterals, eventually the city will come through and force it and I'll be back to where I am now. I can drain to the alley or the front yard. I added gutters to the garage and they both run to the alley.

I have 4 downspouts and a sump pump. I'm draining two onto the front yard (long extensions), and 2 into the laterals. The sump currently goes into the lateral; by a temporary except from the inspector.

I do not understand how the dry well hurts the process, and I do not understand what I am supposed to do with the water from the gutters.
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Old 03-20-2012, 05:56 PM   #36
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I'm not saying you cant use the drywells, just overbuild them if you end up using them. Just to be sure, there are no storm drains anywhere you could tie into, right?
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:36 PM   #37
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I'm not saying you cant use the drywells, just overbuild them if you end up using them. Just to be sure, there are no storm drains anywhere you could tie into, right?
I don't believe I am allowed to request or attempt to tie into the storm drain system. We're supposed to get our water to the street.
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Old 03-20-2012, 09:01 PM   #38
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Here is the plan. Looks to cost about $300 before dry well and pea gravel.

I think the grade is good, level in the back.

This should hold the house over nicely until we can regrade the back (retaining wall) and the west side.

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Old 03-21-2012, 11:09 AM   #39
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In response to my post, coderguy said:

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

Did I miss something in the discussion? I believe I did. When Daniel Holzman imdicated that it's only a proper foundation perimeter drain that would protect your basement, I missed where you pointed to a recognized drainage authority stating that a shallow french drain can accomplish the same result.

When CplDevilDog posted about the need to calculate the proper size for the dry wells, along with a link to do that, and concretemasonry confirms the need for a sufficient size for the dry wells, I missed where you added up the square footage of the roof and yard areas and made use of the resource to determine what the size should be.

And your contention that I am "blindly responding" is also correct. Since there are none of the details and accurate elevations given for the site, I have no way to assess what might be a solution for your situation.

Your use of grid paper to do a plan view drawing may look a bit crude, but it is a step in the right direction. You should augment the plan view drawing with a profile drawing along the drain route showing the ground elevation and the pipe/trench details. This would help you to see how the system will or wont work during a rain event.

Such a profile drawing might look something like this:

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Old 03-21-2012, 01:57 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by pls8xx View Post
In response to my post, coderguy said:

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

Did I miss something in the discussion? I believe I did. When Daniel Holzman imdicated that it's only a proper foundation perimeter drain that would protect your basement, I missed where you pointed to a recognized drainage authority stating that a shallow french drain can accomplish the same result.

When CplDevilDog posted about the need to calculate the proper size for the dry wells, along with a link to do that, and concretemasonry confirms the need for a sufficient size for the dry wells, I missed where you added up the square footage of the roof and yard areas and made use of the resource to determine what the size should be.

And your contention that I am "blindly responding" is also correct. Since there are none of the details and accurate elevations given for the site, I have no way to assess what might be a solution for your situation.

Your use of grid paper to do a plan view drawing may look a bit crude, but it is a step in the right direction. You should augment the plan view drawing with a profile drawing along the drain route showing the ground elevation and the pipe/trench details. This would help you to see how the system will or wont work during a rain event.

Such a profile drawing might look something like this:
First, your drawing is pretty accurate to my plan. I hadn't thought of doing a profile drawing like that; I will have to work on it tonight.

Regarding the math; you are correct. I broke my own rule that I spout on the financial forums... which I realized last night after I did my drawing and didn't have a size for the dry well.

Last night I argued your points with my wife; because the whole thing started to make less and less sense to me. I eventually came out convinced of the physics of a french drain, and moved on to the dry well.

I did the math for our yard; and even tried doing it for just the back/west rear of the house (What would feed into the dry well). It appears to require about 4ftx4ftx5ft (2 drywells near each other, at 3ftx3ftx5 seems like a better choice, and take over an inch of rain). That is for a filled system though. I'm thinking one 3x3x5 system since I would do for a flo-well or drum (some type of lined system).

I will reply tonight with a profile drawing of the property.

Finally; I make no claim this would work as well as a foundation perimeter drain.
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Old 03-21-2012, 06:31 PM   #41
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Don't forget that water that soaks into the soil not far from the house may find its way back to the basement and have to be re-pumped away. But if the soil out where you have a dry well is very porous for many feet down then the dry well will provide enough drainage.

To put things into perspective, a French drain must empty out and take the water someplace. A "French drain" in which water is supposed to remain until it soaks into the ground around the perforated pipe is properly called a leach field even when constructed in the same fashion as a French drain. When a French drain empties into a dry well, the dry well is considered full when the water level mostly covers the end of the drain pipe as seen.

In winter there should not be frequent instances where large amounts of (liquid; unfrozen) water get collected and also there is a prolonged time where it would freeze on the sidewalk or pavement. Therefore most of the time discharging the overflowing dry well (a sump pump inside it should empty it out completely before shutting off) across the sidewalk to the street works okay and should the rain storm be followed by a freezing snap, ice melting salt can be put on the sidewalk manually.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:28 PM   #42
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So I got out in the yard for a bit before it got dark and remeasured some slopes. I then made this side view of the plan that is attached here. I hurried and they aren't perfect; but it shows just how bad the back yard is (slope wise).

I think it may be that I'm exhausted mentally and physically; because I have no idea what to say.
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Old 03-22-2012, 08:58 AM   #43
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Your new drawing appears to be a cross section of your property from the far back to the front showing only a part of the pipe network. The profile of the pipe should be along the route of the pipe as if the layout were unfolded to a straight line. The ground line should be the elevation above where the pipe will be laid. Perhaps this will be clearer if I show the correlation with the two together.



Since my profile appears to be somewhat like your situation, I will use it to assess how the system will function under varying rain events.

Condition 1. Suppose there is a small rain event. One where there is enough rain to have a small flow across the ground to your drain trench. In my area small events are more common than large events. Water enters the trench and fills up the gravel below the pipe but not high enough for it to enter the pipe. Some of the water will flow through the gravel into areas downstream from the perforated pipe. The drawing below shows the saturated gravel shaded in red.



Since none of this water will ever flow down the pipe, all of it will be absorbed by the lower soil adding to any saturated condition of the soil next to your basement wall. Which is the very thing you are trying to prevent.

Condition 2. Suppose you have a very large rain event; one greater than what the dry well is designed to handle. The dry well will quickly fill up and go into overflow mode. The elevation of the overflow will determine the water level in the far end of the pipe; water in the trench at the back of the house has to be higher than the overflow elevation to make any water flow. As shown in the graphic below everything below the red line will be full of water.



While this condition exists water from the trench will be dissipating into the soil just as if it where a dry well. Moreover, after the rain stops and water no longer flows out the overflow, the water in the dry well and the water in the trench will go down together. Each being absorbed by the adjoining soil. I'm thinking hundreds of gallons of water dumped to the soil along your basement wall.

Condition 3. Things are better here. This is for a rain event that matches what the system is designed to handle. Condition 1 will exist throughout the event, but the bulk of the water will run to a dry well sized to take the water without a back up. Well, that is if the well is empty when the rain event starts, which might not be the case. You know that at some depth your soil is prone to be saturated. That's why you have a wet basement. If the bottom of the dry well is below the saturated level then it will fill up to that point. A well half full of water wont handle the designed event resulting in Condition 2. Since you live in a cold climate, a large part of the well may be full of ice.

French drains can sometimes serve to dry up the soil above the pipe elevation. But the soil below the pipe often becomes wetter than with no drain at all. For this reason, a shallow french drain near a basement which is lower than the pipe is a bad idea.

So what could be done for this property? I'll talk about that in my next post.
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:38 AM   #44
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Note also that the drain pipe 1-1/2 feet below the surface can freeze up.

You will probably need a foundation perimeter drain below basement floor level also. Right now there is not way to prove that you definitely need that because you have not finished correcting the problem of gutter water pooling up against your house.

What would happen if you drained/pumped all the water to the alley with no dry wells?

Quote:
had a horrible time with the contractors today; as they raised their price before they left.
What has been excavated so far and how far?

I looked at your diagram again and I think the dry wells are too close to your house. At least to ensure that you will need a perimeter drain system which is actually a separate project.
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my neighbor put his new sidewalk ON TOP OF his old one; and yes it is angled away from his house...
It would be a good idea to regrade your land away from your house on that side. If desired, dig a trench along your property line on your side which will act as a degenerate form of the French drain; on the surface. Fill it with gravel, no pipe needed except at the low end to connect to an underground pipe. If combined with a flower garden (unwalkable space) then it can be filled with clay-ey topsoil instead of gravel and with a continuous row or column of bricks or blocks mortared together and extending above grade for a few inches and below grade for several inches to block water flow from your neighbor's sidewalk.
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Old 03-22-2012, 06:14 PM   #45
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What would happen if you drained/pumped all the water to the alley with no dry wells?
I have no idea how this would work.. my backyard rises almost 17 inches from house to garage; meaning the same or more for my alley. It would be awesome is what would happen; but I don't think a sump pump is going to move water like that. Where/how would I do the piping. Most importantly, water isn't making its way to the sump pump... it's sitting in the blocks and against the back of the foundation. Making its way through cracks and running down the bilco stairs.

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It would be a good idea to regrade your land away from your house on that side.
I have about two feet on my neighbors side and he is above me, and has added an additional 2-3 inches with his new sidewalk. I would have to bury my house to grade away from it. Even if I do regrade now that the windows and window well are gone... 2 feet will do it?

I cannot simply regrade the back yard; the grade would end below my garage. I am willing to put a retaining wall there to do this. In that case; water would run towards the retaining wall; nobody has commented on this.

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