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What Are Exterior Drainage Pipes?: Foundation Waterproofing Methods

exterior drainage pipe

Most homeowners are aware that water can damage a home in numerous ways. For example, heavy rains can cause rainwater to flood your yard and subsequently pool right next to your home’s perimeter, which could lead to serious problems in no time. Luckily, you can fend off pooling water by installing exterior drainage pipes.

The Concrete Foundation Association is pretty clear about this type of problem. Their studies suggest that almost 85% of all structural damage comes from poor drainage. But if you have proper drainage pipes outside, you’ll be able to protect your landscaping and foundation. 

Regardless of whether you have a slab foundation, crawl space, or a basement, water will be its worst enemy. In the following, we’ll discuss all you need to know about exterior drainage pipes. We will go over how they function and what the installation process is like.

What Are Drainage Pipes?

Namely, drainage pipes act as gutters for groundwater. Homeowners install them around the perimeter of their home in an attempt to lower the risk of flooding, mold problems, and even pest infestation. These pipes work to reduce the potential risk of structural damage that comes from the previous three problems by redirecting the water away from the property.

How Drainage Pipes Function

As we’ve said, downpours and floods can cause excess water to damage your substructure and cause further foundation repairs. However, if you choose to install drainage pipes on your property, you’ll easily prevent many water-related problems from happening. Exterior drainage pipes will channel the excess water away from your foundation.

They have small holes and construction crews bury them in trenches at the bottom of foundation footings. Excess water enters them through their perforations, allowing them to drain it away from homeowners’ properties. Still, to be even more secure, it’s best to combine exterior drainage pipes with other waterproofing elements inside the lower grade of your home.

Most experienced homeowners will mix these pipes with basement waterproofing measures such as interior drainage systems and sump pumps. This solution will guarantee that your home stays safe from water-related damage.

The Installation Process

It’s key to first mention that installing exterior drainage pipes isn’t something you can do by yourself. It’s somewhat more complex than some DIY projects you might enjoy working on. The reason why we say this is the fact that improper installation can make your home even more prone to water-related damage, so it’s best to leave it to a professional crew.

Nevertheless, the process has several steps. Here they are:

  • First, the crew will need to decide together with you where they’ll install the drainage pipes.
  • After you agree, they’ll dig a 12-inch-wide trench with a slope away from your home.
  • Next up, the installation crew will fill the trench with filter fabric.
  • They will fill the trench with gravel bedding as well.
  • The next step is to hook the pipe connections together and place the drainage pipe into the trench.
  • To improve the safety of the drainage pipe, the crew will cover it with gravel and filter.
  • They will also add a soil backfill over the previous covering.

Note that drainage pipes will not work properly if they are not placed deeper than the floor of your lower-grade area. Keep an eye out for that.

What Makes a Quality Drainage Pipe?

As you know by now, water-related damage can mean pricey repairs. Hence, it’s important to invest in a quality drainage pipe to save your hard-earned money in the future and to have peace of mind at night, knowing your foundation is safe. As such, you should consider the following features if you’re looking to install one on your property:

Durability: Since these pipes are not safe from the elements outside your home, they’ll need to come from high-quality materials. These materials must be durable enough to withstand even the harshest of conditions in Michigan.

Proper Sizing: Drainage pipes need to be wide enough to channel excess water. In case they’re not, the water will pour near the foundation. But if you contact experienced contractors, this won’t be a problem.

Proper Installation: For the drainage pipe to work the way it should, the installation crew will need to install it properly. Just like we’ve mentioned above.

Pros and Cons of Exterior Drainage Pipes

Firstly, let’s mention the benefits of having a drainage pipe on your property.

Here are three of them:

  • Preventing water accumulation: Since heavy rains cause the soil on your property to become wet, the water in it will pool and cause hydrostatic pressure. This pressure will push up against your foundation walls, causing cracks and floods. But with a proper drainage pipe, you’ll be able to redirect the water away from the home.
  • Reducing soil erosion: When you combine excess water with soil, it will become muddy. This allows for erosion, which is a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Exterior drainage pipes can prevent soil erosion from happening.
  • Toxic material removal: Flash floods can contaminate your property with numerous toxic materials. Luckily, you can get rid of them at least in part with a drainage pipe surrounding your foundation. This means you won’t come in contact with anything unhealthy and dangerous.

Just like any other construction element out there, drainage pipes come with cons too.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Labor-intensive: If you just did your landscaping, drainage pipes will probably ruin all your hard work. They are pretty labor-intensive and require a lot of digging to install once a home has already been built, which might mean you’ll need to replace your sidewalks, deck, or even the porch when the process is over.
  • High maintenance: Like most other home elements, you need to keep an eye on exterior drainage pipes. You can’t leave them and hope everything is going to be okay just like that. Regularly check outlets and make sure nothing is blocking them. The same goes for the covering.

Looking to Waterproof Your Home?

If you are afraid of floods or general hydrostatic pressure, you can always contact professionals at FSM for interior drainage alternatives. Our team serves the Detroit area, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and surrounding areas in Michigan. With the help of our professionals, you can have your home waterproofed with interior drains, a sump pump, and other solutions that will restore your peace of mind and allow you to enjoy the safety and comfort of your home for years to come. To get started, contact us today to schedule a free inspection and repair quote.

Exterior Drainage FAQs

The timeframe for resolving crawl space drainage problems varies depending on the severity of the issue and the solutions applied. Foundation Systems of Michigan will give an estimated timeline post-inspection. Our team works diligently to ensure the least possible interruption to your routine.

Costs vary based on basement dimensions and requisite materials. We offer free inspections, transparent pricing, and financing options to suit your budget.

Lack of proper foundation drainage can put your home at risk of suffering from water damage. The water around your basement or even in your basement can compromise your foundation and the safety of your home on various levels. Not investing in a high-quality drainage system may seem like the most affordable option, but in the long run, it is the most expensive one.  

Unstable Foundation  

The volume of damage water can cause should never be underestimated. While standing water around your foundation or overly saturated soil may seem harmless, it can cause your foundation to move and shift. When this happens, cracks can appear, causing a whole array of other problems. By keeping your foundation properly drained, you won’t just keep it dry, but stable and safe as well.  

If you do not have proper drainage, heavy rains can easily soak the soil beneath your home, making it less stable. As a result, your foundation can begin to settle. Foundation settlement is a serious problem that should not be ignored. It can make your home collapse if left unsupervised. On the other hand, water accumulating beneath your home can push against your foundation floor or walls, making them crack or bow.  

Mold and Rot Growth  

Keeping water away from your home can also prevent mold growth. Mold mostly thrives in dark and damp places, so your humid basement will be an ideal place for it to spread. Since mold releases airborne spores, it also presents a health hazard. If you inhale them, you could end up with serious respiratory issues. On the other hand, wood rot also prefers humid environments. Since rot can damage your wooden supports and drastically weaken them, it can easily compromise your home’s structural integrity.  

Ensuring that your foundation stays dry is the best way to keep mold and rot away from your home. By doing so, you will make your home a safer and healthier place for your family. Furthermore, you will also increase your home’s market value. Nothing can lower the price of the house as quickly as foundation issues, so make sure you invest in a proper drainage system.

Leah Leitow

Leah Leitow

Content Writer

Leah is a Content Writer for Groundworks with nearly ten years of experience working in the foundation repair industry. Her experience ranges from working with homeowners to find the right solution to training inspectors and staff. In her background as a Michigan journalist, she gained invaluable insight into people's lives throughout our state. Leah lives in metro Detroit with her husband and two sons.

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