How to Install a French Drain in Your Basement Floor

Have water pooling in your basement and need to install a French Drain but not sure how to get started? In this guide our team of basement experts will walk you through how to install a french drain in your basement floor. We will show you all the tools, gear and materials you need – plus step by step instructions to get the job done.

French drains are one of the most effective ways to drain water without an electrical connection. The basic idea of this gravity-powered drain is simple – but properly installing them in a basement does require some experience to get it right the first time.

In this guide we’ll teach you how to install a french drain system in your basement:

Tools and Materials

Perforated drain lines – For the actual French Drain line

Gravel and fill sand – For inside the drains, find out the best size gravel for inside drains

A shovel or trench digger – For digging the lines

A level – To ensure the new lines have a slight downward slope. Either laser levels or traditional fluid level will work.

How to Install

Digging a basement french drain is almost the same as install it in the backyard. Follow these step to install your line in 2 to 3 hours.

1 – Measure the Lines

Every home improvement project should start with taking measurements – at least twice! For this project start by measuring the total length you plan to lay the drain lines. This number is important because it will determine how much drain line and fill gravel you will need.

2 – Dig the New Trench

Next, start digging the trench. If it is just a few feet you can probably use a shovel but if the new drain line is going across the basement it might be a good idea to rent a trench digging tool for the day.

3 – Lay the French Drains

After the trench is complete lay the perforated drain lines into the ditch and position as needed. Remember you need a 1% to 2% downward slope in order for the best drainage.

4 – Measure the Slope

After positioning the drains, do one final measurement before starting to fill the lines. Remember the phrase, measure twice cut once. Getting everything in the right spot the first time will save you a lot of difficult digging later on.

5 – Fill Drains with Gravel and Sand

Once the drain lines are in place fill the outside with dirt to keep them in position and provide support, then fill the inside of the lines with gravel and sand. The larger gravel should go on the bottom of the line with filter sand on top.

6 – Cover the Drains

After the lines are full cover the new drain with a protective covering layer. This will keep particles from entering the drain lines and keep you from falling in and hurting an ankle.

7 – Test the New System

Once everything is in place fill a few buckets of water and put the system to the test. Water should quickly disappear into the trench then slowly drain into the basin over time. The more water

Tips and Tricks

Many homeowners and DIY enthusiasts will want to dig the trench by hand. This is fine if you are handy with a shovel but if you want it done quick rent a trench digger from a local hardware store!

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