In this article, we’ll be discussing ways to tell if your French drain is working.

French drains are efficient moisture management systems that could develop issues without your knowledge. This is especially true for areas that are difficult to access.

Here, fixing the problem largely depends on identifying what the issue is. By finding the problem, you can implement appropriate fixes.

We’ll be looking at common signs that might point to a faulty French drain. All of these help with maintaining a functional French drain.

Plus, they enable you to take early action when there’s a problem.

Professional Assessment could Save you the Stress

If you have little time on your hands to spare for a French drain inspection, you might want to call for professional help.

Moisture control contractors are skilled in providing fixes to problems and installing drain control systems such as this (French drain).

You might want to use their help and expertise by having them examine your drainage system.

This procedure’s clear benefit over others (DIY techniques) is that it provides maintenance while also identifying developing or existing issues with your French drain.

Apart from determining if your French drain is working properly, these pros help offer fixes.

More importantly, you’re saved from the stress or inconvenience of figuring out how to access difficult-to-reach areas during inspection.

What Could Lead to French Drain Malfunction?

To determine if a French drain is functioning, there must be no signs of issues such as clogs, changing slope, or sump pump malfunction. Any of these could affect the normal functioning of your French drain.

Let’s have a look at each of these to understand the extent of the problem.

  • Clogging

Clogging is a common problem that can result. This normally arises from the gradual sedimentation of the drain fabric covering perforations on the drain pipe.

Also, the quality of porous materials (rocks, gravel, or sand) used to cover the French drain pipe determines how long it takes before the drain clogs.

The quality of fabric used determines whether a French drain will have clogging issues or not. Also, a shoddy installation job will likely affect the drain’s performance.

This is why it’s important to have reliable contractors perform your installation. That way, your drain hardly develops problems.

  • Changing Slope

One thing that’s common with every major construction is settling.

The ground usually settles under the new weight of the structure. This is mostly unnoticed in stable areas or locations. However, it’s much worse for areas with damp climates or those near water bodies.

As the slop changes, it’s likely to affect the normal functioning of your French drain.

The altered slop changes the flow of water which makes the system less efficient. This will require making significant adjustments including grading the area to a suitable slope for easy flow of water.

  • Sump Pump Malfunction

Interior French drains are mostly tied to sump pumps which help pump out water that collects into the sump pit from the drain. When this pump malfunctions, there’s an overflow of water from the sump pit.

This in turn results in a backflow through the French drain.

Immediate action needs to be taken to fix such a problem to avoid making things worse. To fix the problem, it’s best to have a contractor handle the issue.

Checking if the French Drain is working

Anyone having a French drain will normally expect it to work without issues. However, problems are likely to develop when you least expect them.

This is mostly true for a French drain that hardly gets any routine maintenance. Troubleshooting is necessary to get to the root cause if you suspect a problem.

You might want to check if your basement is flooded. Also, be on the lookout for areas with standing water. A section of the pipe will need to be inspected.

Also, take a look at the drain termination point, and check the basement wall. Any of these actions should help you know if your French drain is working.

  • Is your Basement Flooded?

Because French drains are installed around foundations, they help keep water from seeping into the basement. However, there’s a possibility of suddenly finding your basement flooded.

If this is noticed, it’s a clear sign that something’s wrong with your French drain.

  • Inspect your Lawn for Standing Water

French drains are designed to drain outstanding water from your yard. So, when standing water is noticed in your lawn or yard, it’s a clear sign that your French drain isn’t working as it should.

Answers need to be found on why the water isn’t draining out. It could be due to a clog.

  • Inspecting a Section of the Pipe

Sometimes, you might have to go as far as observing a section of the pipe.

This action helps you figure out whether there’s standing water in the pipe or channel. To do this, you’ll need a shovel to dig up the area in order to reach the pipe.

After digging up a section of the trench, check to see if there’s standing water. If there is, your French drain may be faulty.

  • Have a Look at the Drain Termination Point

The easiest way to know if a French drain is working is to simply find the termination point.

Check to see if there’s flowing water. If there isn’t, then you have a problem that needs to be addressed. Also, if the flow is too slow than normal, it’s a sign that the drain might be clogged somewhere.

  • Check Basement Wall

French drains help to protect both interior and exterior sections of your home from excess moisture.

To know if it’s working correctly, you’ll need to inspect your basement walls. Dripping water is a red flag and shows the French drain isn’t doing its work.

Absence of these Symptoms Signals a Working System

After your inspection, if none of the above issues are observed, then it can translate to a clean bill of health for your French drain.

While that is probably the case, it’s still necessary to call for a professional inspection and routine maintenance, such as drain cleaning. That way, you get to know the true state of your French drain and avoid future problems.

Knowing your French drain’s state shouldn’t be a problem if you’ve read to this point. The processes aren’t difficult to follow and give you an idea of what’s happening.

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