French Drains – Repair and Maintenance

By David Linn Cook and Joe Soster, Waterproofing One

When basement waterproofing installation jumpstarts a new utility storage room and/or a basement den/office, humidity control and air quality ventilation are key factors. This must be maintained to assure continued full utilization of the new “third floor.”

A senior couple’s home had recently flooded due to a lack of ongoing maintenance and

job detailing. This became an even bigger issue since they started babysitting their very first grandchild five days a week! 

Their lawn, leaf raking, mulching and snow removal was done by local individuals, so it wasn’t always adequately maintained. Walking around the home’s exterior was not easy and in places was even impossible, especially with baby pick-ups and drop-offs, two senior dogs needing to be walked, and an active home with family and neighbors visiting and checking in on the couple.

The water and mold prevention crew removed wet carpets and the lower sheetrock walls, but the main source of where the water emanated from was still a mystery. Quickly replacing a mud filled section of a 20 year old French drain system helped, but the partial replacement and sump pump/well upgrade was still insufficient to prevent another flash flood disaster.

This simple question remained – how do we eliminate water entering the basement? Another question being why, after two decades plus, did everything fail? A thorough exterior inspection quickly revealed the reasons why. The downspouts were all backed up so the window wells were completely filled with mud, leaves and debris. On top of that, most if not all of the sump pump discharge was circling back into the basement, with lots of silt clogging mud.

The solution – proper basement window well vents were opened up for the first time in many years, the sump discharge was changed and the gutter spouts were extended away from the exterior perimeter. After cleaning out the sump pump closet and coating the mold free walls, the basement could then be restored with new flooring and paint.

You can’t do “clean laundry” in the dirtiest room in the home. With the dry storage area compromised and leaky HVAC ducts spreading moldy/moist air to the floors above, the answer is yes, it matters that seasonal maintenance is done correctly to maintain a truly waterproofed basement year-round. Composting mulch with closed window vents, prevents water run-off and provides sweet smelling, fresh air intake. Problem solved with accurate diagnosis and detailing by a local Waterproofing expert at Weatherproofing Plus, Inc. Phone: 610-325-0596. Email: [email protected].