How to Install French Drain When Water Seeps Below Footer

Installing a French drain is an effective way to deal with standing water or rain runoff that might damage your home. The process is straightforward and can be accomplished by a novice do-it-yourselfer with the right tools. Water is directed away from a building through a sloping trench to an area where it won't cause any harm. Rent a backhoe, or find some helpers when you install a French drain when water seeps below the footer.

Things You'll Need

  • String line

  • Shovel, backhoe or bobcat

  • Gravel

  • Perforated pipe

  • Fiber fabric

Step 1

Mark the outer edge of the trench you will dig by running a string line parallel to the footing. It should be 2 feet from the footing and extend beyond the building far enough for water to drain away from it, or at least 6 feet.

Step 2

Dig a trench between the footer and the string line. It should be 6 feet deep if the building has a basement. If the building is on a slab, dig 2 feet deep. The trench must slope downward toward the area that extends beyond the building so that water is directed away.

Step 3

Put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the trench several inches deep, then smooth it flat while maintaining the slope.

Step 4

Lay perforated pipe on top of the gravel and cover it with a least a foot more gravel. Lay filter fabric over the gravel. The fabric will keep the pipe from clogging.

Step 5

Fill the trench with topsoil to its original height. Tamp it down and cover with grass or other landscape elements.

Tip

A very simple French drain can be built by digging a trench and filling it with gravel or river rocks. A more elaborate drain has pipes sticking up out of the earth at both ends so that a tool like a plumber's snake can be used if it clogs. Multiple trenches can be dug and connected to drain water away from several sides of the building.

References & Resources