If your basement gets wet fairly often, a French drain may be the solution. The drain diverts water to an area where it will drain away from your house and not cause problems such as mold growth and musty odors. Draining the water away could be the only way to prevent foundation damage and reclaim your basement for storage or extra living space. French drains can be installed inside or outside. Here's what you need to know.

Interior French Drains

It's usually less disruptive to install a French drain inside your basement because you won't have to dig up your yard. The contractor digs up part of your concrete foundation instead. A small trench is dug in the floor of your basement along the walls where water seeps inside. Then a pipe is placed in the trench and angled so water will flow through it and into a catch basin. The pipe is covered with gravel and then new cement.

When water seeps through the foundation or through the basement walls, it will drain into the trench, fall inside the holes of the pipe and be directed toward the sump pump in the catch basin. When the basin gets full, the pump kicks on and moves the water out of your basement and into an outside pipe to be directed away from your house.

Exterior French Drains

A French drain that is installed outdoors works in the same way. Water seeps into the pipe through the soil, and gravity allows it to drain into the street or a retention pond. The contractor digs a long trench near your house and lines it with filter fabric to keep soil out of the pipe. A pipe with slotted holes is placed in the trench to collect water. It is covered with gravel and dirt so it can do it's job while being out of view. The advantage of an exterior French drain is that it diverts the water away before it has a chance to reach your foundation. The disadvantage is it tears up your yard and destroys part of your sod and landscaping.

A contractor can help you decide which method is best for your situation, but the ideal solution may be to install both types of drains. That way you'll have a backup in place if one of them fails. For instance, if the sump pump fails, water will flow over the catch basin and onto your basement floor. You wouldn't want that to happen if you use your basement as a family room or for storing extra belongings. It's unlikely that an exterior French drain will fail, but there is a slight chance that it could become clogged or even crushed if a heavy vehicle drives over it. Whether you choose an interior system, exterior system, or both, a French drain is an effective way to put an end to wet basement troubles.