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5 Projects That Make Your Exterior Drain Tile More Effective

An exterior drain tile, also known as a french drain, is a basic form of protection against dampness that can cause cracks in your foundation as well as mold and mildew in your basement or crawl space. While an exterior drain tile helps by directing groundwater away from your home, there are many circumstances when a drain tile must be combined with other features to fully protect your foundation. If you live in a particularly wet area or get a high amount of rain each year, you may want to combine your exterior drain tile with one of these other five protective features. 

Waterproof Coating 

There are several types of waterproof coatings that can be applied to the exterior of your foundation or basement. These are usually sprayed or brushed directly onto the concrete, but they can also involve layers of plastic sheeting that are secured to your home. 

When you are considering a waterproof coating, it is important that you understand the difference between waterproofing and dampproofing. The processes are similar, but they involve different materials. Generally, for residential buildings, you will desire waterproofing, but if you live in a dry climate, dampproofing might be sufficient and save you money. 

Waterproofing works well with a drain tile because the drain tile takes the stress of large amounts of water away from your building and the waterproof layer protects your concrete from small amounts of water and condensation. 

Roof Gutters

Drain tiles are meant to keep groundwater away from your home. However, you also need a way to keep surface water away from your home when it rains. The easiest way to do this is with roof gutters. Your roof will likely be the largest impermeable surface near your house, and as such, it is the biggest source of surface water that can erode the top layer of your foundation. Gutters move the water that collects on your roof away from your home, protecting your foundation. 

Generally, roof gutters should drain about six feet away from your home. Some people opt to integrate the downspout of their gutters into their exterior drain tile. However, this can quickly overload your system and result in ruptures, blockages, and early replacement. 

Ground Gutters

A ground gutter is installed at the top of your exterior drain tile. This immediately diverts surface water away from your home instead of allowing it to drain through your tile and reach the lower pipe. This should extend the longevity of your drain tile while protecting your foundation. It is a good addition if your yard slopes towards your home and you notice puddles around your drain tile when it rains. 

Intelligent Landscaping 

You can use basic landscaping techniques to prevent groundwater and surface water from reaching your home. You will want to plant shrubbery 3-6 feet away from your drain tile. These plants will absorb some ground water. However, if they are too close, their root systems can destroy your drain tile. 

Additionally, you should make sure that your lawn slopes away from your home. If your house is at the bottom of a slope, you may want to build up a small mound about 6-10 feet from your home that diverts surface water away from it. 

Well-designed Sidewalks and Driveways 

Sidewalks and driveways can dump water directly into your drain tile, putting unneeded stress on it. You should make sure that all nonporous surfaces on your property slope away from your home or have drainage gutters installed in them.

While an exterior drain tile can protect your home from water damage, it is just one part in a system of defenses you should consider to protect your foundation.  


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