Are you looking for a contractor?

Submit our quick form and get quotes now!

Table of Contents

What is a French Drain?

What is a French Drain?

Exterior renovationsWhat is a French Drain?

A French drain works with gravity. Water follows the ebb and flow of the earth's guiding principle, and thus, the drain carries water downstream. This sloped trench provides a method to help homeowners avoid damp patches on their lawn or property by regulating drainage, and keeping things dry in places where it's necessary.

If you’re a homeowner who has noticed dampness around your foundation or reoccurring water collection issues, then you should consider creating one on your property. If you’re still on the fence about this method, read on to find all the relevant information regarding this efficient system. 

Everything you need to know about French drains!

french drain

Source: Canva

How does a French drain operate?

As we’ve mentioned, a French drain is a straightforward method which operates by way of gravity to divert water away from the house, creating an effortless pathway for water to flow through. A French drain is essentially a small ditch which holds a perforated pipe, and water travels through the pipe to be left at a safe distance from your home.

Another important aspect of the French drain is the fact that it’s gravel-lined, as the gravel works to disperse the water correctly. This draining system can be installed both indoors and outdoors. Of course, the installation of a French drain will depend on the needs of your property. In most cases, this will be to direct water away from a low-lying area of your lawn, and towards the street or a drainage ditch.

Those who feel confident enough to take on this DIY project can follow the instructions in our article How to Install a French Drain.

When is a French drain necessary?

A French drain is an excellent option for those dealing with surface water issues, including moist patches on the lawn, or a driveway that washes out. Another significant reason for creating a French drain on your property is if water is running into your basement. An excess of water around the basement of your home will cause your foundation to rot, as water presses against the foundation and gradually leaks into the surfaces.

In turn, this can lead to several internal and structural issues with your building. A French drain deals with this problem directly and reroutes the water to a more useful place. 

Indoor versus outdoor

French drain

Source: Steve - Flickr

There are a few ways to tell whether you need an outdoor French drain versus an indoor one. If the issue you’re facing is surface water, installing a shallow outdoor French drain will help to solve this problem. This style drain is sometimes also referred to as a curtain drain, and will need to be outfitted horizontally across your property and uphill from the area which you want to dry. If the spot where this drain will rest passes through an area of trees or shrubs, make sure that the pipes are not perforated, as roots will find their way into the pipes and clog the pathway for drainage.

If the issue you’re facing is water leaking into your basement, you should install a style of French drain that is sometimes referred to as a footing drain. This type of French drain will run around the perimeter of your house at the footing level. This drain works by intercepting the water before it has the chance to enter your basement. The footing French drain is easiest to install during the construction of a home, and although it can be installed later, the process may be difficult.

If water continues to find it’s way into your basement following the installation of an outdoor French drain, you may need to consider an indoor installation. As we mentioned, the installation of an indoor drain is slightly more difficult as it will involve cutting into your basement concrete slab. Furthermore, you will have to remove interior walls to install the system. However, if water is seeping into your basement, chances are the walls are damaged and will need to be replaced anyways. 

French drain maintenance

French drain

Source: Canva

As a general rule, French drains do not require a lot of maintenance. They do their work until they have reached the end of their useful life. Of course, it is not recommended to wait until the structure is very damaged before proceeding with the replacement. Every year, it is recommended to look at the sections where the French drain is located and to monitor in order to see if you notice any signs of operating problems. If you do not need to replace the drain, there are still some small maintenance tips to keep in mind.

First, if the drain is situated near trees and gravel, make sure that they are not likely to cause any damage, for example, because of a root that could be causing the drain to move, or gravel that could cause obstruction. In some situations, gravel and other debris around the house can clog the drain. You will need to see a specialist to determine whether it is possible to clean the drain with a special tool or if more in-depth repairs are needed.

Get 3 renovation quotes for your French drain project

RenoQuotes.com can help you get quotes for your French drain installation project. If you submit your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with top-rated contractors. Fill in the form on the homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will get estimates from trusted professionals. 

Dial 1-844 828-1588 to speak with one of our customer service representatives

Get 3 free quotes for your project!

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes!


Last modified 2023-11-07

List of sources


Get 3 free quotes for your project!

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes!

Looking for something else?


Table of contents


Get 3 free quotes for your project!

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes!

Are you a contractor?

Join our network and receive real leads!

Download the price guide for renovations

We’ll be emailing you the latest market price guide for renovations.



Related articles

The latest industry news, interviews, technologies, and resources.

9 min read

N/A • 07 Nov 2023

How to renovate a condo or townhouse

With city populations growing rapidly, and space becoming dense and limited, many are choosing to live in a townhouse or condo in lieu of more traditional housing choices. There are plenty of benefits to townhouse and condo living, but what are the rules and regulations for those interested in renovating?

9 min read

RenoQuotes.com • 07 Nov 2023

The Bathroom Faucet Guide

When it comes to designing a bathroom, faucets make all the difference. Nevertheless, choosing the right faucet goes beyond aesthetics. Whether you’re selecting a faucet for a tub/shower or sink, there are other important factors to consider.

7 min read

Cynthia Pigeon • 07 Nov 2023

Choosing Your Front Door: Costs and Materials

A front door serves as the focal architectural feature of a home's façade; the home's unique identity, that, more importantly, most likely bears your address and mailbox.

5 min read

RenoQuotes.com • 07 Nov 2023

Working with an interior designer: yes or no?

With all the aspects that need to be taken into consideration, renovations can be tricky and can put you through a lot of stress.

6 min read

RenoQuotes.com • 04 Jan 2024

What Are the 2024 Kitchen Décor Trends?

Are you planning on refurbishing, redecorating, or renovating your kitchen? You can always make this key area in your home more user-friendly and ergonomic while still considering your budget and personal preferences. Have no fear, unless that specific area is stuck in time, there’s no need to demolish everything and start from scratch for a little modern revamp. All you have to do is throw some trendy elements into the mix, combined with the signature style you love! Without further ado, here are the trends to focus on in 2024 to design a modern kitchen. 


Looking for a contractor?

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes now!