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The Waterproofing Debate: French Drains or Sump Pumps?

Is there a significant difference between a sump pump and a French drain? In practice, yes. While these two waterproofing solutions are cousins, they don’t use the same means to protect your home.

With that in mind, is there one that’ll provide you with more protection than the other?

In this article, we’ll compare and contrast French drains and sump pumps and advise how local basement waterproofing professionals can help you protect your home from water damage.

crew installing interior drainage and sump pump in basement

Sump Pumps: What You Need To Know

Sump pumps are electric-powered pumps designed to keep parts of your basement as dry as possible. To install a sump pump, the contractor you hire will need to take the following steps:

Tar Heel crew installing basement sump pump
  • If applicable, lay drainage pipes near the perimeter of your home.
  • Find the spot in your home that collects the most water.
  • Drill weep holes around your sump pump’s base, if determined to be appropriate.
  • Test the sump pump’s float valve.
  • Dig out a spot for the sump pump liner.
  • Install an interior filter to prevent silt and other obstacles from clogging the pump.
  • Set the sump pump inside the liner.
  • Connect the pump to drainage pipes.
  • Fill the hole with gravel.
  • Cover the gravel with a new layer of concrete.

A sump pump is ideal for a home that experiences spot flooding in the winter and spring. When you install a submersible sump pump, you’ll be able to better protect those low-grade areas in your basement from the area’s rainy weather.

Likewise, the water removed from your basement is done through exterior discharge pipes so that it won’t immediately re-flood your home.

That said, these drains are not perfect. If you need more comprehensive coverage, you’ll want to consider alternative waterproofing solutions, as a sump pump won’t be able to pull water out of the whole of your basement.

Likewise, sump pumps require electricity to function. If your power goes out and you don’t have any alternative solutions to back your pump up, you could find yourself dealing with significant flooding in little to no time at all. Having a reliable battery backup will help give you peace of mind during a power outage.

French Drains: What You Need To Know

If the sump pump is a spot treatment, then its French cousin, the French drain, is a comprehensive solution. To install a French drain, also referred to as interior drainage or drain tile, the contractor you hire will need to take the following steps:

installing interior drainage in basement floor
  • Excavate the interior of your basement, leaving at least one foot of clearance.
  • Tap and bleed (or drill weep holes in) the walls to allow any existing water or moisture to drain out.
  • Install a slotted drainage pipe and cover the laid pipe with gravel.
  • Re-cement your perimeter.
  • Connect drainage pipes to the sump pump system to move water out of your home.

A French drain will protect the whole of your basement, pulling water from every corner to preserve your belongings as well as the structural integrity of your home.

That said, French drains aren’t always as powerful as sump pumps. You’ll need to be prepared to maintain these systems if you want to keep your home from flooding.

Doubling Up: Is It Worth It?

french drain, sump pump, and wall vapor barrier installed in basement

Both the French drain and the sump pump have their benefits. Is one, though, really better than the other? Can they permanently waterproof your home?

Sump pumps and French drains serve their own purposes, making it difficult to say if one really outclasses the other. More often than not, the solution that suits you best will depend on the kind of water intrusion you see.

However, it’s often best to use them together. These two solutions pair well together because the French drain collects the water and then channels it to the sump pump to remove it from the home, ensuring that your basement stays dry.

That’s how our team at Tar Heel Basement Systems approaches basement waterproofing. We believe in keeping your basement dry all the time, and we can also pair these solutions with wall vapor barriers and dehumidifiers for comprehensive coverage.

Trust Tar Heel for Reliable Basement Waterproofing Solutions

Are you wondering how to best protect your basement from our region’s wet weather? Trust your local basement waterproofing experts at Tar Heel Basement Systems for superior protection.

We’ll evaluate your basement during a free inspection and provide you with a no-obligation estimate on solutions customized to meet your basement waterproofing needs. Don’t let leaks and flooding jeopardize your home and family’s safety. Contact us today to start creating a healthier living environment.

Phillip Mazzotta

Phillip Mazzotta

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