Footing Drains, French Drains, Interior Perimeter Drains…What Is The Difference?
Basements by their very nature tend to be damp and many times suffer from water and moisture penetration. There are several systems available to help direct water away from the foundation and reduce the chance water will enter your basement. French drains, footing drains, and interior perimeter drains are terms that are frequently used interchangeably, however, each serves a different purpose and are in different locations.
French drains are a sub-surface drain used in conjunction with a gutter and downspout system to direct roof water away from the foundation. A footing drain collects water at the level of the foundation before it can enter the dwelling. An interior perimeter drain is just below the basement floor and is typically used in conjunction with a sump pump to remove water from beneath the basement floor.
A “french drain” is an outdoor buried drain line constructed to carry water from the roof gutter that pours down a downspout, away from the building. In this system, the water drains away to a dry well, seepage pit, or to daylight that is located 15 feet away from the building. The distance may need to be larger if soils are likely to drain the water back at the foundation. The downspouts should not be connected to a footing drain as it may overload or clog the system.
A “footing drain” is an exterior drainage system placed outside the foundation wall near the foundation footing, covered with gravel. The pipe is perforated to allow water to flow into the pipe. To function properly, the drain is frequently piped to a dry well or catch basin, which pumps the water to daylight or a storm drain.
Interior perimeter drains
An “interior perimeter drain” is an indoor drain beneath the basement floor around the perimeter of a basement or crawl space to intercept and remove water from the building interior. The water typically comes in through the footing or foundation cracks. Plastic sheets may be used to direct water passing through the foundation to the perimeter drain. The water is then drained to a sump pit and pumped to the exterior. Your inspector will be able to check the aboveground components; however, it is unlikely they will be able to inspect any of the belowground components.
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