• Installing a Basement French Drain and Sump Pump


    Water creates a number of problems in a basement include deterioration of the foundation, dangerous mold and worst of all damage to anything it comes in contact with.
    One of the best ways to eliminate water problems is to install a French drain that includes a sump pump that pumps water out and away from the foundation.
    This house repair guide covers the essentials of French drain and sump pump installation, so you can decide whether to tackle the job yourself or hire a foundation contractor to do the work.
    This is a challenging DIY job because it is done below ground level and involves cutting and breaking concrete in many instances. Most homeowners turn to professionals when water threatens their home.
    A contractor with a crew will take two to three days to finish the work, depending on its complexity.

    French Drain and Sump Pump Installation Guide

    Our goal is to give you a good overview of this home repair project, so you’ll know what it involves whether you do the work or hire someone else. This includes French drain and sump pump installation tips and the types of tools and materials needed for the work.
    We include French drain and sump pump installation costs and suggest ways to save money on the project.
    Finally, we conclude this house repair guide with a list of additional resources with good information for DIYers including instructions and video.

    These drains go by many other names include weeping tile, drain tile, French ditch and sub-surface drain. The drain is believed to have been invented not by the French but by Henry Flagg French of Concord, Massachusetts. Here are tips for installing a French drain and sump pump.

    • First, decide whether to install the system on the interior or exterior of the basement
    • If the foundation has not been backfilled, it is easiest to install the system on the exterior of the foundations – depending on the depth of backfill, breaking up the basement floor might involve less time and expense
    • When installing the system on the exterior of the foundation, locate the sump crock (which will be buried) in a place where the drain pipe coming from it will be inconspicuous and where it can dump water 10 to 15 feet from the foundation. It also helps to locate the sump crock as near as possible to the down pipe of the gutter on the low side of ground level
    • If you don’t want the drain pipe to show at all, consider having it dump into a dry crock at least 10 to 15 feet from the foundation
    • Most drain systems go around the entire perimeter of the basement
    • For interior installation, start by making a chalk line around the perimeter of the basement about 12 inches from the wall and a larger area for the collection basin/sump crock/sump liner
    • Cut the concrete along the line with a concrete saw for easier removal
    • Use a jackhammer or sledge hammer to break up the concrete
    • Once the concrete is removed, remove pea stone (if present) and soil down to about 18 inches
    • The trench made for the French drain must be generally level with a slight slope toward the crock from both sides
    • Lay the French drain in the trench following manufacturers instructions, and connect the sections together as required
    • Perforated drain coil may be used in place of French drain sections, but it clogs more easily
    • If you use perforated drain coil, lay landscaping fabric over it to keep fine debris from clogging it
    • Cut the last sections of the drain and attach them to the collection basin/crock/liner
    • Fill the French drain with drainage gravel up to the bottom of the basement floor
    • Pour new cement to replace what was removed, leaving a gap of one to two inches along the wall where water that gets into the basement can drain
    • Run electrical power to the sump crock – putting an electrical box and outlet is easier than hard-wiring the sump pump
    • Install the sump pump and the discharge pipe that will either go to the dry crock or will empty above ground
    • Use an airtight top on the sump crock to help eliminate dangers from radon
    • Consider a battery backup system for the sump pump, so that if heavy storms knock out power, the sump will continue to run and remove rainwater from around your home

    French Drain and Sump Pump Installation Costs

    As you might guess, this is an expensive repair, but installing the drain will protect your home going forward and will make it easier to sell. If you have a leaky basement, few buyers will be interested in your home.

    DIY French Drain Installation Costs: Here’s a list of the tools and materials needed and what they cost.

    • Jackhammer rental: $100 to $150 per day
    • Concrete cutter rental: $125 to $200 per day
    • French drain: $2 to $4 per linear foot
    • Perforated drain coil: $1.00to $1.25 per linear foot
    • Drainage gravel: $1.50 to $4 per linear feet 12” deep
    • Landscape fabric: $15 to $40 per roll that will cover 100 to 125 linear feet
    • Cement: $2.50 to $3.75 per linear foot 4” deep
    • Cement finishing trowel: $12 to $20
    • Sump basin and cover: $25 to $60
    • Sump pump: $80 to $200 depending on capacity and quality
    • Drain hose: $1 to $1.50 per foot

    Professional French Drain Installation Costs: The price of your job will vary widely based on the size of your basement and the complexity of the work. When you get estimates, expect them to be in the range of $2,000 to $4,500 for small jobs and up to $12,000 to $15,000 for large jobs. Average costs for the trench are $15 t $20 per linear foot. The cost of the sump pump and crock installation includes the prices of the equipment (found above) and $100 to $200 for installation. (Source: Costimates: Sump Pump Replacement)

    Saving Money on French Drain and Sump Crock

    If you do the work yourself, you might save money by busting the concrete with a sledge hammer rather than renting a jackhammer.

    If you hire a contractor, there are two ways to save money. First, offer to do some of the work yourself, such as busting out the concrete or digging a trench in your backyard. Disposal of waste is significant
    cost for contractors

    Secondly, getting several estimates for the work will allow you to find the lowest prices where you live.

    DIY Resources for French Drain and Sump Pump Installation

    If you’d like more details on this home repair, these sites will help.

    Boccia Brothers – A New York foundation contractor gives a good overview of what a French drain is and what it does.

    Apple Drains – The contractor’s site contains a wealth of information about French drains and other important drainage systems around your home.

    Landscape Drainage Solutions – This contractor’s page has good instructions and quite a few helpful pictures.

    MD Vaden – You’ll find many good tips for drainage solutions on this Portland contractor’s site.


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