Basement Drain Tile Installation


The best time to protect your basement from water damage is during the construction of your home. Basement drain tile -- perforated PVC pipe covered with netting -- lies beneath the basement floor and collects water that might otherwise seep in through cracks in the concrete. It requires an interior sump pump, which is also beneath the basement floor. You have a small window of opportunity in which to install basement drain tile -- after you pour the footing but before you pour the basement floor.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Flexible drain tile tubing
  • 1-inch rock gravel
  • Sump basin
  • Tinsnips
  • Rags
  • Sump pump (to install later)
  • Dig a trench, 1 foot wide and 8 inches deep, around the inside perimeter of the footing. Dig as close to the footing as possible without disturbing the soil under it.

  • Measure the perimeter of the trench and purchase flexible drain tile tubing 4 feet longer than the measurement. The piece you buy will come in a long, continuous roll.

  • Pick a spot for the interior sump basin. This is often near other utilities in one corner of the basement. The sump basin hole should connect to the trench in a spot where it will have access to electricity. Water collected by the drain tile will drain into the sump basin, so it must sit right by the trench.

  • Dig the sump basin hole. An average sump basin hole is about 2 feet wide by 3 1/2 feet deep, but they come in different sizes. The directions that come with the basin you have will tell you the required width and depth of the hole.

  • Position the sump basin in the hole and remove the caps from the two side outlets.

  • Fill the bottom 2 inches of the trench with 1-inch gravel.

  • Insert one end of the continuous PVC drain tile tubing into one of the side outlets on the sump basin. From there, lay the rest of the drain tile tube in the middle of the trench. When you reach the other end, insert the other end of the tube into the other outlet hole in the sump basin. If you have a little excess tubing, cut it off with tinsnips.

  • Cover the drain tile tubing in the trench with rock gravel. Smooth the gravel level with the surface of the current soil level in the basement. When the foundation contractor pours the basement floor, the concrete will cover the trench and the tubing.

  • Plug the ends of the drain tile tubing with rags for now. Later, after setting a sump pump in the basin, you can remove the plugs. Before then, however, there is a risk of small rodents entering and clogging up the tubing.

Tips & Warnings

  • During the pouring of the basement floor, the foundation contractor will smooth the wet concrete over the gravel-filled trench and around the top of the sump basin. When the basement floor is finished, there will be no sign of the drain tile that lies beneath the concrete, and a removable cap will cover the sump basin for access.
  • Further reduce the risk of leaks by installing exterior foundation drain tile at the same time you install basement drain tile.
  • You can install basement drain tile in an existing basement, but it’s a major job because you have to break out the concrete floor to install the tubing and the sump basin.

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