A wet basement can cause many problems. The moisture from standing water in a basement can cause toxic mold and mildew to build up. Excess moisture in the basement also attracts termites, which can destroy the wood structures in the home. Finally, water in the basement can damage the structural integrity of the foundation over time. This can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home. To remove water from the basement, you can either install a French drain or a sump pump.
A French drain is an underground water management and drainage system. A trench is dug along the inside foundation of the home. It is usually dug 2 to 4 inches deep. A perforated drain pipe is installed. It is then surrounded with gravel and back filled. As water collects in the basement, it is channeled along the French drain and then through the pipes. The pipes are sloped so that the water is drained out of the house through the pipe.
The major disadvantage to a French drain is that the pipes can clog up leading to flooding in the basement. As the excess water flows to the drain, it can pick up sediment and dirt along the way. The mud can then clog the perforations in the pipes, which would prevent water from flowing into the drain. Also, French drains should be done by a professional because it requires digging into the foundation floor.
A sump pump is another way to manage excess water in the basement of a home. A sump pump is a submersible pump that is placed in the lowest area of the basement. A pit is dug at a lowest point in the basement. Therefore, as water accumulates, it will naturally run toward this area. The sump pump is placed in the pit where the water collects. It contains a float switch that is activated when the water reaches a certain level. When it does reach that point, the pump turns on and pumps the water out of the house through a pipe.
One of the disadvantages to sump pumps is that they are run by electricity. A strong storm may bring rain with it and can cause the power to go out. The sump pump runs on electricity, so the time that you need to sump pump the most, it may not work. If the sump pump fails to work because of mechanical issues, then you leave yourself open to flooding. The pumps must be periodically checked to ensure that they are working properly.
If you have an excess of water in your basement, you may want to consider both a sump pump and French drain to waterproof your home. The French drain channels the water to the sump pump pit, which pumps the water out of the home much quicker that a pipe alone would do.