What Is a French Drain?

If you were to ask me yesterday what a French drain was, I'd look at you like you had six heads. But, as I get closer and closer to purchasing my own home, I've started to realize that knowing this stuff is important! On a very basic level, a French drain is a ditch that is usually covered with gravel that draws water away from your house to prevent flooding. The last thing any homeowner wants to deal with is a flood of any kind. Installing a French drain can easily prevent a potential flood and save you thousands in damage.

The French drain was invented by Henry French, a farmer from Concord, Massachusetts, around 1859 and not by the French as I originally thought (though some do believe the Romans might have had a similar system)! French published a book about farm drainage in which he discussed the ditch and gravel system that eventually became known as the French drain.
French drains are often installed around a home foundation in one of two ways: around the foundation wall on the external side of the foundation or underneath the basement floor on the inside perimeter of the basement. This system is one of the most popular drainage systems because it doesn't need much, if any, maintenance.
Interior French drains require the use of a sump pump -- but be sure your pump has a backup battery for power outages. And even though French drains last a long time, poorly installed drains or clogged pipes can cause serious problems and actually cause a flood. Installing a French drain always begins with digging some sort of trench.
By Design Milk (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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