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Waterproofing Your Home: Sump Pumps vs French Drains

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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?

Sump Pumps: What You Need To Know

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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 on will need to take the following steps:

  • 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 the ideal solution for a home that experiences spot flooding in the winter and spring. When you sink your sump pump in, you’ll be able to better protect those low-grade areas in your basement from the worst of Winston-Salem’s weather. Likewise, the water removed from your basement is done so 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, the contractor you hire on will need to take the following steps:

  • 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 slotted drainage pipe and covering 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?

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 both serve their own purposes, which makes 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 so it can be removed from the home, ensuring that your basement stays dry.

Wondering how to best protect your basement from the Winston-Salem, NC, weather? Reach out to a professional contractor working in your area. After a free inspection and estimate, you’ll have a better idea of what your waterproofing options are.

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