What Are the Types of Surface Drainage Systems?

Flat, even terrain is ideal for both residential and commercial construction. Unfortunately, tracts of level land are also vulnerable to heavy rainfall, which can saturate the soil or create stagnant pools of water that take months to evaporate.

Saturated soil and standing water can promote mold growth in your home or commercial building or even cause catastrophic damage to your foundation.

One of the best ways to deal with groundwater problems is to install surface drainage systems on your property. These solutions can provide excellent results when used in conjunction with your existing gutters and downspouts.

Two of the most effective options for managing groundwater are surface drains and French drains. Let’s look at how they work.

Surface drains

A surface drain is a ground-level grate placed over an underground catch basin. It’s installed at locations on your property where rainwater tends to pool.

Typically the basin is connected to buried pipes that direct the water to a central collection point such as a lake, stream, city sewage system, or street.

Surface drains do require occasional cleaning to prevent clogs. The grates are visible to onlookers, which may present an aesthetic concern for some property owners. Still, they’re an efficient way to prevent standing water from damaging your home, commercial building, or landscaping.

French drains

A French drain is a channel cut into the soil and lined with landscaping fabric. Corrugated pipe is placed in the drain and covered over with gravel or loose stone. The drain is sloped so that it flows away from the building.

Properly installed French drains resemble naturally formed stone paths, making them a great way to complement shrubs, flowerbeds, and other landscaping features. They’re more effective than surface drains at managing saturated soil. However, they’re also more expensive.

Which solution is right for you?

Which surface water drainage system is right for you? The answer to this question depends on many factors, such as the types of structures you have on your land and the contours of your property.

Determining the best way to go takes a professional on-site evaluation, which is where Align Foundation Repair comes into the picture. Our track record of success gives you the confidence that we’ll do the job right the first time.

Already have a groundwater management system in place that needs servicing? We also provide comprehensive surface drainage system repair services.

Every moment you wait puts your home or commercial building at risk of groundwater damage. To learn more about our drainage solutions, call us today.

What is a Surface Drain?

A surface drain protects your home or commercial property from the effects of standing water. It works in conjunction with safeguards such as grading, contouring, and sloping while also providing a multi-layered defense against the impact of rain and other forms of precipitation.

Why is a surface drain so important?

To understand the importance of having good drainage solutions, take a few minutes to look around your property after the next downpour. You’ll probably see pools of standing water against your home’s foundation or scattered across the landscape.

Left uncorrected, these miniature swamps can wreak havoc with your lawn, your property values, or even your health. Here’s why:

  • Stagnant water creates dips and depressions: The kind that can erode valuable topsoil or even cause trip and fall hazards.
  • Water pooled against your foundation will eventually cause a leaking basement or crawl space: It’s like a ticking time bomb beneath your feet. Sooner or later, the unwanted moisture will find its way into your home or commercial building, causing wood to rot and concrete to crumble.
  • Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and pests: Keep mosquitoes, rats, and disease-causing organisms off your property. Long-term standing water is also a prime cause of mold, which in certain forms can trigger allergies and interfere with breathing.
  • Standing water causes excessive soil movement that leads to foundation issues: Clay-based soils expand when exposed to water, and can shift your foundation unevenly. Some soils collapse in the presence of water and can no longer support the load of the house.

Architects and construction workers are well-acquainted with the problems caused by rainwater. That’s why they include gutters and drainage spouts in their designs.

But these measures, while helpful, may not protect your property from the dangers associated with standing water. This is especially true if your land is poorly graded or improperly percolated.

The best way to address these problems is with surface drain installation. Here’s how it works:

  1. A contractor installs underground pipes and a catch basin: Gravel is placed beneath these components to allow excess water to flow into the ground.
  2. The pipes are topped off with either a flat or atrium grate: This is done to prevent people or animals from falling into the drain. It also helps to control soil seepage and plant growth inside the pipes.
  3. The pipes flow to a carefully chosen location: Most often, this location is a city sewer facility in urban areas or a river or stream in rural areas.

Surface drains vs. French drains: what’s the difference?

The primary purpose of a surface drain is to catch water that would otherwise remain above ground. On the other hand, a French drain is primarily used for water that would otherwise saturate the underlying soil and cause root rot or other problems.

A French drain is visible above ground as a channel filled with gravel or stone. A surface drain is usually covered by earth and invisible except for the entrance grate and exit points.

Want to know more? Give us a call

Here at Align Foundation Repair, our technicians are experts in all aspects of surface drain installation. Get in touch with us today to learn more or to obtain a free, no-obligation quote. We look forward to hearing from you.

Why is an Area Drain Typically Used?

As with all other exterior drains, the primary purpose of an area drain is to shuttle water away from the foundation. However, what makes its application different from other drain types? What are the right circumstances for area drain usage in North Texas?

What is an Area Drain?

First, it helps to understand how an area drain is constructed. The drain system and its pipes are installed below the soil. The construction extends beyond the drainage system itself. For an area drain to be effective, the trench the system is built under needs to be slightly sloped downwards. This allows gravity to do the job by enabling water to naturally flow downward through the pipes and through an exit basin located away from property grounds.

An area drain has an open grate for water to enter. The connecting pipes are angled downwards and flow to the exit grate. The exit point may be near or beyond the property boundaries. Ideally, it should be an open area that gets ample and direct sunlight to allow for optimal evaporation.

When is an Area Drain Necessary?

A technician may recommend an area drain if you have a recurring problem with ponding water after a rain spell. The fact that water is lingering for extended periods indicates that the ground is flat, thus not allowing water to naturally flow where a slope descends. Even if you don’t see puddles directly, you may notice an excessively soggy lawn that takes upwards of days to dry out. Additionally, you may also notice water getting into the crawlspace. Worse, water may seep into the ground level of your home.

If left untreated, the ponding water can lead to soil erosion, creating gaps in the ground that enables even more water to collect. If it makes contact with the foundation, it can make its way into areas where cracks and openings are present and exacerbate existing damage to the slab.

Area Drains Are Made to Specific Residential Requirements

One of the best attributes of area drains is that they can be built to specifications most beneficial for the layout of your land. If your neighbor’s property sits higher than yours, for example, water may divert from the neighbor’s plot of land to yours. An area drain can be installed at the specific point where water enters from the neighbor’s property.

In addition, the exit pipe can also be positioned in accordance with city ordinance. Some municipalities have regulations regarding where water can and cannot be redirected.

We Install Area Drains

Do you find water remaining on your lawn long after rain? Your existing drainage system may be inadequate. An area drain may be the appropriate corrective action. The purpose of an area drain system is precisely to remove the water that can cause structural damage and invite mold and mildew growth. Take measures before the situation gets worse by calling Align Foundation Repair. We provide a free estimate with every consultation.

Downspout drainage pipe dripping of rain water

How Can I Tell If I Need Drainage Work?

Your gutters are your first line of defense against puddling water. Prolonged water exposure is the primary cause of foundation damage. The signs of residential drainage problems include a gushing gutter, moving mulch, puddling water, ground mildew, and more. We will discuss these at length; these are telltale signs that your drainage is not doing its job and requires a serious look from a professional.

1. Puddling Water

It’s normal for water to puddle around your yard after rain. It becomes abnormal, however, if the puddle remains for days on end. The water is supposed to eventually drain out to the street or filter through the soil. Water puddling indicates one of two things: the drainage system needs work, and the yard is likely not properly sloped.

2. Gushing Gutters

Is water exiting the downspout sporadically instead of flowing out smoothly? This is a sign of a backed-up gutter. You may also notice mud splatters on the wall; this indicates water coming out forcefully and in short bursts. You will need to clean the gutters. In most cases, you may just need to get on a ladder and remove physical debris by hand. It’s also possible, though, that the gutters may be damaged, improperly pitched, or undersized. The gutters may need to be reconfigured.

3. Ground Mildew

If you spot or smell mildew on the ground, that’s a tipoff that an issue is occurring at ground level.

4. Shifting Mulch

Do you notice mulch moving away from certain areas, leaving bare spots in the soil? Mulch shifts when water collects and carves a gulley within the landscape. Often, the water will carry away much of the mulch and vegetation and drag them into spots where they don’t belong. Aside from poor drainage, water can also puddle due to compact soil that doesn’t drain properly. This is especially common in the North Texas region where the heavy clay-based soil is prone to compaction.

5. Bowing Floors

Water can seep into the concrete foundation especially if there are existing cracks and splits in the slab. This causes further warping and expansion. Of course, you can’t see the foundation directly, but you will notice something is awry when the floors feel a bit “off.” You may notice some parts feel like it’s bulging, slanted, or sloped.

Correct Drainage Problems ASAP

Drainage issues will only exacerbate over time. Don’t ignore the drainage problem signs, believing they are just the normal recourse after a rain spell. The effect of ponding water can be devastating to the concrete foundation. Contact Align Foundation Repair if water time and again lingers around your property. Your drainage system likely requires some refitting. We provide a free estimate with every home visit.

Old drain pipe system

Do You Repair Existing Drainage Systems?

Can a residential drainage system be repaired, or are you better off replacing the entire system? The answer depends on the extent of the damage and other factors. At Align Foundation Repair, we offer effective, long-term existing drainage system repair solutions, though in some rare cases, the whole system may need to be replaced.

Let’s explore the factors that determine when repair is doable and the situations that warrant a total drain replacement.

When Can a Drain Be Repaired?

If you see puddles forming around the home and dangerously close to the foundation, then the drainage is clearly failing. What is the cause of the drain failure in the first place? The most common cause is a simple backup due to a buildup of solid debris accumulating in the pipes. The drains can be cleared using a number of techniques, such as hydro-jetting.

The issue may also lie within the pipe itself. The pipe may be sagging (AKA “bellying”) or be separated at the joints. If gutters are involved, the pipe may pull away from the roof. These issues are repairable.

When Should You Replace the Entire Drainage?

A simple reason for replacement is old age. The definition of “old,” though, depends on the type of pipes. Cast iron pipes, for example, have a lifespan of about 50 years. PVC pipes, more common in modern homes in the North Texas region, have a similar lifespan of 50 to 60 years. If you’re experiencing constant issues, and the pipes are within five years of their life expectancy, then it may be time for a replacement.

Issues may also arise due to poor initial installation. Drainage needs to be installed with its surroundings in mind. The driveway, for example, may have a section that angles inward, allowing water to puddle. Likewise, the home itself may be built on the downward end of a slope. These are issues that need to be addressed beforehand. However, the previous installer may not have taken these facets into consideration. In this instance, the entire system may need to be replaced or reconfigured.

Other situations that may require a full replacement include:

  • Extensive pipe corrosion
  • Extensive pipe damage from tree roots
  • Old pipes not conforming to modern regulations

We Repair and Replace Existing Drains

Align Foundation Repair installs drainage systems, including French, surface, and channel drain solutions. Likewise, we can also fix a current drainage system if the issue is relatively minor, and the system as a whole is still in fair condition.

Only an in-person evaluation from one of our technicians can make the determination. Give us a call today; we provide a free estimate with every home visit.

Downspout drain with flowing water

What Type of Maintenance Is Required for My Drainage System?

The drainage system on your property is one of the most critical components yet one of the most overlooked. Without it, water is susceptible to ponding precariously close to the foundation. This is especially so in the North Texas region where soil erosion creates cavities and gaps for water to settle. Drainage system maintenance is pivotal. Do you know how to care for it and keep it in usable condition? The solution includes both DIY and professional upkeep.

Professional Maintenance

While there are DIY measures, they do not replace the yearly or so professional inspection. Most drainage pipes are installed below surface; homeowners have no way of observing the pipe interior to examine its condition. A professional can assess the pipes without any intrusive digging. This is made possible thanks to miniature cameras that can be snaked into the pipe. This is no different than the cameras used for observing an air duct system or plumbing pipes in the home. The camera can detect debris; removing debris can be achieved using some form of water flushing method, such as hydro jetting.

Remove Nearby Vegetation

While you can’t check the pipe interior, you can check the grate. The openings can easily become clogged with debris carried over from flowing water. Constantly check the grate and remove obstructions. It also helps to rake away nearby leaves and keep the immediate vicinity clear of foliage. This is especially important during spring and fall when vegetation is in abundance.

Remove the Grate

If you’re a bit more hands-on, you can remove the grate and remove debris by hand or use a hand cultivator. You can even use a basic shop vac to reach beyond the depths not possible using your hands alone. Keep in mind, though, that even this will not reach the most inner depths of the pipe and definitely not if the pipe branches in multiple directions. This is why an occasional professional assessment is still required.

Clean the Termination Area

Don’t limit the cleaning to the opening at the grate. We also suggest checking the termination area. This is the point where the drain’s basin empties out. This should be located towards the outer boundaries of your property where the water is funneled away from your home. Remove the grate and clean this area the way you would the entrance point.

Flush the Drain Pipes

Every few months, flush the pipes by inserting a garden hose into the catch basin and turning the water on. The pressure from the water will flush out accumulated debris. If this works, you will see solid sediments exit the termination point. We must stress that this DIY measure – while effective – is not a replacement for professional hydro jetting.

We Maintain Your Drainage System Year-Round

Leave the annual cleaning to Align Foundation Repair. We clean and repair all types of drains, including French, surface, and channel drains. Drainage for foundation maintenance is integral for your home especially if you reside in a region known for frequent rain spells. Give us a call today for an inspection that includes a free estimate.

French Drain System

PVC Vs Corrugated Drain Pipe for French Drains

More homeowners in the North Texas region are investing in French drain installation to protect their foundation from the effects of ponding water. While an effective solution, not all French drains are created equal. Depending on the material and craftsmanship, some drains are prone to backups and accelerated wear. This is why pipe quality matters.

While landscapers use “non-rigid corrugated NDS pipes,” we use drainage grade PVC pipe because it is more durable and longer-lasting, especially when buried under heavy materials like soil. The corrugated pipe is cheaper but not nearly as strong. At your free drainage evaluation, a technician from Align Foundation Repair can demonstrate how easily the corrugated pipe bends under pressure when compared with PVC pipe.

PVC and Corrugated Pipes at a Glance

French, channel, and surface drains typically consist of one of two materials: polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or corrugated pipes. Know which material is being used when having a drain installed on your property. We will state unequivocally right now that PVC is the far more durable material. We highly recommend it over corrugated pipes. Our stance is based on years of industry expertise. We have seen how these two materials hold up under prolonged exposure to the ever-shifting North Texas weather.

The Downside of Corrugated Pipes

Many contractors still use corrugated pipes. The material is cheaper, so homeowners save money in the initial installation. The issue with corrugated pipes is that it’s made of plastic. This is beneficial in one sense because the softer material makes it easier for producing joints, bends, and crests.

The problem is that these pipes are notoriously difficult to clean if a backup occurs. You cannot simply use an auger or plumbing snake to clear the debris because the rotating brush can easily tear through the thin plastic pipe.

PVC Pipes Provide Long-Lasting Durability

A PVC drainage pipe solves the main issue associated with corrugated pipes. PVC is a rigid structure made from synthetic plastic polymer. It will not rupture if exposed to a commercial-strength roto-rooter-type snake. This makes regular maintenance far simpler and more importantly, doable.

Furthermore, the pipe’s smooth interior surface reduces fluid friction and resistance to flow. This offsets sludge and slime build-up and reduces encrustation and tuberculation.

Contractors also prefer to work with a PVC French drain pipe. Despite its tough surface, it can easily be cut with a conventional handsaw. It’s also easier to set the pipes at the proper slope and keep it in place.

We Install High-Quality French Drains

The weather and soil conditions in the Northern Texas region make water too much of a risk factor for residential foundations. This is why French drains are an integral element for foundation longevity. While corrugated pipes have their place in some applications, PVC is the sound solution for a French pipe installation. At Align Foundation Repair, this is our go-to material for underground drainage systems.

Give us a call today for French drain PVC pipe repair and other services.

French Drain vs. Swale

French Drain vs Swale: Which Is the Right Option?

Part of properly caring for your home and property entails a proper drainage system. Otherwise, water can collect in specific spots, causing the soil to become oversaturated. This can have serious consequences if the water puddles around the foundation. Drainage systems come in several types. The question of whether to choose a French drain vs swale comes up a lot because these are two of the more common systems employed in residential and commercial properties.

What Is a French Drain?

Contrary to popular belief, the French drain did not originate in France. It was invented by an American man by the name of Henry Flagg French and is a mainstay in modern day drainage systems.

How does it work? Water naturally flows in the direction of least resistance. This usually means flowing downhill even if a slope is minimal. At its most basic level, a French drain is a slightly sloped trench consisting of gravel and a pipe designed to shuttle water away from the foundation. The gravel provides a porous surface for water to seep through, and a pipe installed below provides an outlet for water to travel through and exit at a safe distance from the home. Typically, the water exits into a drainage ditch, a dry well, street, or low-lying area in your property.

What Is a Swale?

A Swale is essentially a ditch concealed with turfgrass or other vegetation. It is very similar to a trench drain, which is also a trench intended for the purpose of collecting surface water over a long expanse of land. The main difference is that a swale is a lot more subtle in appearance and blends with the surrounding landscape.

How French Drains and Swales Compare

The primary difference between the two systems comes down to their primary purpose. Yes, they’re both designed to drain water, but for different reasons. French drains have a more functional purpose, as they are intended to keep water away from the foundation. Swales, on the other hand, are often recommended by landscapers as a general-purpose drain. Swales are sometimes not an option in urban areas because they require large lots to shape properly.

We Install French Drains

A drainage system is vital in a region like the Dallas Fort Worth area, due to its highly porous soil conditions. French drain vs land drain? Leave it to Align Foundation Repair to install a new French drain, or repair an existing one, to keep water from collecting around the foundation.

Drainage System Process

French Drain Vs. Surface Drain

A strong functioning drain is essential for all residential and commercial properties that have problems with rainwater. This prevents water from collecting around the base that can lead to gradual foundation damage. Not all drains, though, are created the same; various forms exist. Two of the common styles are French and surface drains. One may be more suitable than the other depending on the location and type of building. Here is a quick rundown:

  • Use a Surface Drain when you can focus all water to one location. A Surface Drain (area drain) only collects surface water.
  • Use a French Drain when unable to focus water (broad collection). A French Drain collects subterranean as well as surface water.

French Drain

French drains are located underground and designed to remove water that seeps below ground surface. There is an open pipe that is out of sight where water can drain before reaching deeper into the soil or collecting around the foundation.

A French drain usually consists of a perforated pipe installed inside a hollow trench that’s covered with gravel and other porous material.

Surface Drains

Surface drains, by contrast, are installed with the drain opening flush or below with the ground level. These drains rely on surface slope to encourage water into the basins.

Which Is Better?

The more suitable option for your home depends on several factors. Most properties in the Garland, TX, area can actually benefit from a French drain since soil conditions in the region are highly porous.

Surface drains are effective for quickly draining surface water in a short amount of time. They are best for homes located on a flat surface where insufficient sloping exists to draw the water away.

Often, we recommend a combo drainage system consisting of both drain styles. This removes the majority of surface water while also addressing any runoff that manages to seep into the soil.

In any case, both require careful installation to ensure the drains perform to standards. With French drains, for example, installers must take the slope of the soil into consideration as well as be mindful of possible root intrusions. Both French and surface drains must be made from high-quality materials. Ultimately, the French drain vs surface drain debate is a non-issue because both types of drains are effective for different home foundations.

We Install Both Drain Types

We provide drainage solutions as part of a foundation reinforcement process. Give Align Foundation Repair a call if you suspect your drain may not be performing to standards.

Align Foundation Repair Home Drainage Solutions

Signs of a Drainage Problem

Drainage problems are a serious issue that can have serious ramifications on the foundation if ignored. Of course, some signs of a drainage problem, such as pooling water, are obvious. However, other signs are less subtle and goes by unnoticed unless you actively look for them. Learn how to recognize these less-than-obvious signs of a compromised drainage on your property.

1. Overflowing Gutter

Gutters are designed to expel water, not hold onto it. If water remains on the gutter for prolonged periods, then there is an obstruction, likely inside the downspout. Make a habit to clear the gutters of leaves and debris after every heavy wind and rainfall. You should also conduct gutter inspections. Common damages include the joints coming apart or the gutter pulling away from the exterior wall.

2. Musty Odors

Don’t just use your eyes; use your nose as well. Even if you don’t detect visible traces of standing water, unpleasant odors may give away signs of water intrusion. If you smell a musty odor, then you likely have mildew or mold growth somewhere on the property. This means water is condensing in hard-to-reach areas, such as the crawlspace, inside the wall, or underneath the carpet. Aside from the smell, you may also spot condensation in areas like the window or roof.

3. Foundation Cracks

Cracks occur naturally as a house settles in place. A small crack is no cause for alarm. However, be on the lookout for larger fractures. Measure and keep track of cracks larger than the width of a standard pencil. If the cracks get bigger, then you have a problem. This is a sign that water is saturating the soil and causing shifts in the earth.

4. Bowing Floors

Examine the floor in your home. This includes the basement, garage, and first floor in the main living quarters. Does any part of the floor feel or appear uneven? You may notice one section has a “lump” or protrusion. If a tile or hardwood floor, some of the tiles or panels may separate from the floor.

We Provide Drainage Solutions

Water and all its incarnations (e.g. condensation, humidity) can be detrimental to a residential foundation. This is especially true in the Garland, TX area with its temperature and humidity fluctuations. If you notice any of the aforementioned signs, give Align Foundation Repair a call. Early detection can prevent cost-prohibitive drainage repairs.