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Old 05-05-2012, 12:22 PM   #1
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French drain backing up


The house we moved into about 8 years ago has a french drain. It has 4 acess tubes in the center of each wall and drains out the middle of the basement from what I can tell. When I look into the drain it appears to be draining well, I can see moving water trickling toward the center. There is about a 1/2-1" gap between the floor and the wall and it is filling up with water and flowing over the top into our basement at times. I'm guessing the drain must be clogged and I plan to snake it out. I am just looking for other suggestions from folks who have more knowledge than me on the situation or have even been through the same issue before. I'm a mechanical contractor so plumbing is not really my main thing but I need to get this fixed. I have considered filling the gap with some sort of seal. Any help or suggestions appreciated

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Old 05-05-2012, 01:21 PM   #2
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French drain backing up


Usually a French drain has a sump pump in it to pump the water out. If this is a gravity drain, most likely it is clogged, and you will need a plumber that has a camera system, to scope it out to see where it is clogged.

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Old 05-05-2012, 01:36 PM   #3
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French drain backing up


Have you had some excessive rains lately? Its possible that the drain just couldn't handle the amount of water being drained.

Can you actually see the drain piping? does it have a cloth sock over it?

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Old 05-05-2012, 01:45 PM   #4
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French drain backing up


Also if there's that much water coming in you should be looking around outside and trying to figure out how to prevent the water from coming in, in the first place.
Gutters, grade away from the house, no mulch piled up againt the foundation ECT.
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Old 05-05-2012, 01:59 PM   #5
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French drain backing up


Most likely they had torrential thunder showers come through and have a high water table. One of the girls from my wife's work lives in a subdivision that used to be farm fields, and every time it rains, the water table comes up and basement sumps run forever. Where my parents lived on the West side of Springfield, it is over old coal mines, and the basements would flood if the sumps could not keep up. One of the homes that they owned, there is a inflated volleyball shoved in a underground stream, to keep the water from flooding too quick into the weeping tile around the foundation.

The way we would see how high the water table was, was to open up the various wells that were still in the ground on various properties and look to see how high or low the water was.
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Old 05-05-2012, 03:18 PM   #6
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French drain backing up


The "channels" between the floor slab and walls have nothing to do with french drains that are perforated (usually), but always below ground level and usually at the level of the bottom of the footings and lead to a sump pit with a sump pump. The channels are just a cheap collector system to prevent water that has already entered the living area and may be linked or combined to drain water to a sump that may have been installed after the channels did not work well.

I assume you are near the east coast or even as far west as Ohio. Check out the 4 lines that supposedly drain the channels since the chanels are a prime source of junk and debris. - Do you actually have a real french drain system with perforated pipe for collection and solid pipe for distribution?

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Old 05-07-2012, 09:44 AM   #7
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French drain backing up


All I can see is a 4" pipe going straight down about a foot or two and I can see water trickeling towards a pipe that goes toward the center of the basement. I can see witness marks from the cement being torn up all the way around the basement. There are a couple weep holes drilled into the pipe that goes straight down. We did get heavy rain here in MI but it was just overnight and I would like to have the basement stay dry even in heavy rain. I dont see any pipe going paralell with the wall so maybe its just gravel with gravity drains going to the center drain. There is usually water trickeling through the drain at all times. Its not completely clogged but maybe blocked up. It was clogged a few years ago and I had a plumber come snake out the drain. I would expect to see a tee fitting with pipes going either way paralell with the walls but it looks like it goes straight down and then towards the middle of the basement. Almost looks like there is another pipe going towards the outside wall. Hard to tell. I'll put in a few pics but still hard to tell. I was thinking about sewer jetting it but after looking further I think I will just rent a snake and go from there.
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:31 AM   #8
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French drain backing up


Has this happened regularly since you've lived here? Lets be honest, they called the rain up around Flint a 100-year rain.... 6.5" overnight is a rarity and thousands of people had water in their basements. Expressways were closed and some roads stayed closed for days until the water went down. I wouldn't be overly upset with your drain system and spending a ton of money to fix what might not be broken, if this isn't a regular/yearly experience.
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:59 AM   #9
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French drain backing up


Im not looking to spend big money. It happens 3-5 times a year for the last several years. I have a $5000 drumset down there(was anyway) and a ton of musical instruments and equipment. Its is my jam room and recording studio so I have to make sure it stays dry down there. Not to mention every time it happens I have to move everything upstairs, lug up the rugs that are soaked and clean them. clean the floor, the cardboard boxes wick up the water and mold is growing on the inside of some of the drywall as it wickes up the water also. Just thought I might get some insight that I dont already know by discussing it with other contractors. We did get some rain here in clinton twp but not all that much. Certainly not torrential by any stretch. As I said, I was thinking of snaking it again, which I do anyway, but was considering sewer jetting it but not sure it will help all that much compared to the cost ($100).
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Old 05-08-2012, 10:07 AM   #10
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French drain backing up


Are tree roots a possibility? If so you're wasting money with the simple snaking to begin with. A large cutting head would be the only way to go. If it happens that often have the drain scoped with a camera and learn the real problem behind it.
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Old 05-08-2012, 10:22 AM   #11
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French drain backing up


Do you know where the water ultimately goes?

If the water simply soaks into the ground under your basement you will be better off installing a sump pump. The pit (sump) does not have to be in the middle of the basement floor provided that any of the perimeter drain pipes and channels do not have upslopes heading towards the chosen pit location.

Even makeshift channels will do a good job of keeping the water off the basement floor when you have a means of finally getting rid of the water.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 05-10-2012 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:24 AM   #12
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French drain backing up


Tree roots are a possibility. We live in an area with alot of big old trees everywhere. I have know idea where the wate goes. I can just see it trickling towards the center of the floor. We are in a pretty expensive area and I assume the previous owner did it up right. Everything else in the house is top notch. I assumed it went into the storm drain, we are on a slope.

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