Basement Drainage Systems

Basement Drainage Systems

The basement’s location makes such drainage systems crucial in keeping the house in good condition because a basement takes on more water than any other room. Installing a basement floor drain may not be enough to prevent water leaks or flooding, but it prevents water from pooling in the room. That is why any house without a basement wall drainage system is at a higher risk of being damaged by excess moisture.

So how does a basement drain system work?

Such systems serve as an outlet for excess water to be redirected away from the basement. The water source could be heavy rain, HVAC unit condensation, or leaking water heaters, but a drainage system will keep moisture from the basement. Several types of basement floor drains exist for your selection. Examples are sump pumps, French drains, exterior drain tiles, and floor drains.

But will a French drain prevent water in the basement? Yes. Such drainage systems keep water from seeping into the basement, but other waterproofing measures should accompany them.

Why Are Drainage Systems Used?

Water can pool against your home during heavy rainfall, or can run down your wall and cause too much groundwater pressure against your walls. Exterior drainage systems can be installed in order to prevent this from happening.

Leaks and damp can also find its way into the inside of your basement via various points of entry, or through the walls themselves. With our interior basement drainage systems this water can be properly controlled, and channeled discreetly out of your home, and away from the property. The systems can be used to ensure that water never pools in your basement or foundation walls.

We can install drainage systems as a stand along water control solution, or as part of an overarching waterproofing solution.

What Types of Wall and Floor Drainage Systems Are Used?

We advise homeowners to choose suitable types of basement floor drains before calling us for installations to guarantee longevity and optimal effectiveness. In addition to the basement wall drainage system, we can help you with dehumidifier installation and waterproofing applications to boost protection in your house.

So, which basement waterproofing system is best? Check out the information below to find out.


Every basement flooding is different according to the origin of the floods and the type experienced. For instance, flooding that starts at the cove joint – the intersection between the wall and the floor – will not be the same as the one from the floor. In most cases, cove-joint flooding is caused by a build-up of hydrostatic pressure. It happens when the dirt around the basement expands and increases precipitation. As the water levels rise underneath the basement floor, the foundation experiences excess pressure, forcing water to seep through.

An interior perimeter basement drain system prevents such problems. It ensures the water is gathered and redirected to the sump pump, keeping your basement dry throughout the year.

Interior drain tile installation takes between 24 to 48 hours, depending on the size of the basement. A professional contractor must be present for the job. The process involves opening the basement floor to create space around the foundation, then installing the drainage pipes in a way that ensures they redirect the water to the right place. Next is securing the drain pipe in place. Finally, you can use a drainage fabric to secure the drains before refilling the opening.

Interior drain systems in the basements are permanent solutions. Therefore, they are better than temporary options that will require changing frequently. Still, to understand which basement waterproofing system is best, you must weigh the pros and cons.


Advantages of Interior Basement Drainage.

They are easy to install on new construction and homes that need renovations.

They are a permanent way of redirecting water to prevent internal leaks.

Disadvantages of Interior Basement Drainage.

Costs usually depend on the size of the house and the extent of the leaks, which can be expensive.

They only deal with water from the floors and that from the walls.


The exterior perimeter drain basement system is a better alternative to the interior one. It is essential if your area experiences high precipitation that could take a toll on the foundation and basement walls. By redirecting the water before it reaches your house, it prevents the excess moisture from getting to any cracks on the walls. The exterior drain tiles are a more effective protection option because of their ability to divert water before it gets to the basement.

The installation process usually starts with ground excavation around the foundation before wall membranes are put on the exterior walls. Next, a flexible and possibly perforated PVC pipe will be put in place and connected to the sump pump. Covering the pipe with gravel before filling dirt around the foundation is crucial.

Although they can be installed on older homes during renovation, it is better to account for the external drain tiles when building a new property. Some areas make having one mandatory, but even if it is not, it can help you save a lot of money in the long run.


Advantages of Exterior Basement Drainage System.

Installing an exterior basement drainage system is affordable, especially when done during ongoing new construction. When building a new home, accessing the foundation walls will be easier. That reduces the time taken to complete the job and the labour charges. Construction contractors usually include the cost of installing exterior drain tiles when working in communities that require them by code. You are likely to get an extra bill ranging between $700 and $1000 from them. However, if you decide to try it as a DIY, you will spend at least $200 on materials, with the cost increasing according to the basement size and the type of sump pump.

The drain tiles are very effective in keeping water away from the basement, which guarantees the safety and durability of the foundation.

Disadvantages of Exterior Basement Drainage System.

When installed after completing the house construction, drain pipes are expensive. It takes a lot of planning and expertise to do the job correctly, making the cost higher. The soil around the house must be dug to reach the depth of the footings. That is approximately 8 feet below grade.

The price can range from $8000 to $15000, depending on several factors such as the contractor hired, the size of the foundation, and whether there is a collection pit or not.

If not secured properly, the pipes can become clogged. There should be gravel above, below, and around the tiles.


You’ll typically find a basement floor drain in a utility room, and it is installed during construction. They are made of grates placed on the floor to allow water passage into the drain pipes to be redirected to the sump pump. When considering installing floor drains, you must think about the following questions.

Do I need a floor drain in my basement?

Yes. The floor drainage system may seem like standard fixtures in most homes, but they ensure the water that overflows from sinks, tubs, or toilets finds a way out as soon as possible. In addition, they ensure your floors remain dry to avoid degradation or deterioration.

Drain in the basement floor where it goes?

The floor is usually designed to slope towards the drains, encouraging water flow into a collection pit underneath. The sump pump then channels that water to the surface away from the house.

Several types of basement floor drains are available, making it easier to choose the best one for your home.


Advantages of Floor Drains.

Floor drains collect water from multiple sources ranging from leaking toilets to water heaters. They are also very effective in their functionality and can remove large amounts of water quickly. Whether you have condensed water dripping from your air conditioner or dehumidifier, the floor drains will keep the room dry. Their functionality comes in handy when you own a dehumidifier and have high moisture content in the room.

They are considered as part of standard constructions. They do not cost extra to install, especially in newly-built houses.

Disadvantages of Floor Drains.

Installing floor drains in older basements is very challenging. With new constructions, the contractor can easily include the drain pipes in the floor design. They can incorporate the slope needed to enable water to flow into the drain, which is a crucial element. Without one, water will not automatically flow towards them. With older homes, excavation is necessary for the installation of the drain line. That comes at a high cost that starts at approximately $5000. The location of the drain and the amount of concrete that has to be cleared can increase the price.

The floor drain does not provide the ultimate protection from water leakage. Leaks can still occur through the walls, in which case the drain pipes will be ineffective.

The Importance of Sump Pumps

The drainage systems mentioned above rely on a sump pump to redirect water to the surface and a safe distance away from the house. The pumps are made with floating components that trigger their motorization whenever there is water. They do not work on their own and must be used together with other drainage systems. The appliance also eliminates leaks from the walls and is available in different types. Like every other house element, they have pros and cons that you should consider before investing in them.

The Importance of Sump Pumps

Advantages of Sump Pumps.

They are great at preventing potential water leak issues that could arise from excess underground moisture. They can also remove large quantities of water quickly.

Disadvantages of Sump Pumps.

They need constant electrical power and rely on reactive technology. That means the sump pumps cannot rectify existing water problems, but they can prevent future problems.


Submersible sump pumps are placed inside collection pits underneath the basement. Most of them have a standard width of 2 feet and a depth of approximately 1½ feet. They are more crucial if your area has underground water issues.

What is the difference between a submersible pump and a sump pump?

A submersible pump is effective even if it is placed underwater. On the other hand, a sump pump needs its electrical parts placed above water.

When it comes to how long a submersible sump pump lasts, the size of the pit plays a crucial role. A smaller one is likely to fill up quickly, and the pump will have more frequent cycles. That could take a toll on the appliance.

Another common question among homeowners is, what is a better submersible or pedestal sump pump? The answer to this depends on personal experience. Submersible pumps may be more powerful, but they have a shorter lifespan, unlike the pedestal pumps that can handle solid particles.

Both types of sump pumps are good at draining water away from your home. However, the kind you choose should depend on your budget, and the amount of underground water you suspect is present in your area.


A pedestal sump pump also needs a ditch underneath the basement foundation. However, the hole is usually less deep because the motor must remain above it. Even so, the pump must be attached to a pole that should be appended above the collection pit. If you wonder which is better when comparing pedestal vs. submersible sump pump, they both have pros and cons to consider. For instance, pedestal sump pumps are less powerful and noisier, but they are cheaper and can last longer than submersible sump pumps.

What are pedestal sump pumps used for?

Like other sump pumps, pedestal sump pumps are used to redirect underground water from the house to another location where it cannot cause damage. The pumps need a float that is similar to the one used on toilets. It rises as the level of water increases, which activates the sump pump to start working when it gets to the predetermined level.

How long do pedestal sump pumps last?

Pedestal pumps last longer than their submersible counterparts. If maintained properly, they can remain in good condition for up to 10 years. The period may be shorter if they are installed in a location with a lot of water.

Are pedestal sump pumps better?

Their performance efficiency is lower than submersible sump pumps, but they are slightly cheaper and could last longer. If you need a solution for a small quantity of water, they may be a better option for you. Otherwise, consider having the submersible sump pumps.

Installing a Basement Drainage System With These Simple Steps

Tools and Materials You Will Need for Basement Drainage Systems Installation.

The materials you will need include: river rock, sump pump, irrigation hose and pipe, concrete mix, sheet plastic, masking tape, sump pump basin, which should be 30- to 36-inch-deep, duct tape, and a schedule 10 perforated pipe, which should be 4-in. diameter.

Tools required are:

Hand trowel and float, knockdown knife, cold chisel, hammer drill, bucket, jigsaw, shop vacuum, safety glasses, masonry drill bits, dust mask, spade, extension cord, wheelbarrow, chalk line, window fan, reciprocating saw, tape measure, hacksaw, knee pads, trowel, jackhammer, and shovel.

Choose the Right Basement Waterproofing Contractors

The waterproofing contractors you choose will have an impact on how smooth the job process ends up being. Find the most appealing ones and ask them relevant questions like, how do you install drainage in a basement, and at what cost?

Direct Waterproofing has been in the business for decades and can give you a labour warranty. We have handled multiple sump pump system installations and other waterproofing projects, making us the best contractors that will not fail you.

Create Safe Workspace

Excavation is naturally a dirty job that can become dangerous if proper care is not taken. Improve safety by covering all the air vents and all available furniture. Confirm that the air conditioning and furnace are also off before starting the digging. If possible, remove all the appliances from the area, then use plastic drapes to create an isolated section as the workspace. Let the plastic reach the joists if there is an unfinished ceiling in the basement.

You can also get a fan to place near a window to remove heavy dust. That is essential when you are using the jackhammer. Ensure you have personal protective gear such as a dust mask and ear protectors. You can get your family from the house if they are uncomfortable staying there.

Before Installing a Basement Drainage Start with the Floor

Although pneumatic jackhammers are usable, they kick up more dust in the workspace. That is why professionals prefer electric jackhammers. If you can handle it, rent an electrical one in your local home improvement store.

Begin hammering a line, but keep it at least 16 inches from the wall. Try to maintain a straight line as you chip along the basement wall. Cover the entire wall first before you start separating them into smaller chunks that you can manage easily.

As you start breaking down the concrete, try to make the work easier by removing each section as you move along. Doing so leaves enough space for the other chunks to break easily, and you can work a little faster.

You should keep track of the time if you are using a rental jackhammer. Utilize most of it by setting aside the concrete sections until you are through with the rented tool. Make sure you get enough space for the wood basin.

Before Installing a Basement Drainage Start with the Floor

Work Your Way Along the Wall

After removing all the concrete, start digging to reach the bottom of the footing, but pay attention to avoid going below it. Tampering with the soil under the basement footing could cause the cracks on the wall to widen, resulting in more problems.

Getting the dirt outside through the main floor of the house can be hectic and time-consuming. Climbing up and down the stairs with packed soil in buckets is not easy. Try using buckets that you can remove through the basement window. A good example is five-gallon buckets that are used in farms. They are small enough to pass through the basement window and large enough to carry out your debris. You also have a lower chance of banging them and damaging your trim. You can rent one from the farm supply store near you.

Compare different landfill options. Some may categorize the debris as clean fill, which means they will not charge you for dumping it.

Work Your Way Along the Wall

Basement Drainage Basin Installation

When installing the basin, which is the first step, choose an unfinished basement section for easier access to the sump pump. Another option is to place it in the draining point, but only if you have no intention of finishing the basement in the future. Choosing such a location will eliminate the need for many plastic pipes.

When digging the hole, pay attention to the dimensions to ensure the top part of the basin sits flush when the concrete is refinished after installation.

The next stage focuses on the knockout areas. The basement drainage basins have flat sections called knockout areas. Their purpose is to make it easier for you to cut the hole, but the location is not standard. That means some may not work for your system. Therefore, you must double-check to ensure they are compatible. Remember, the pipes used to require a slight slope to reach the basin. The longer the distance between that and the drain pipes, the lower the pipes will be when they connect to the basin. If the drainage basin is not deep enough, water may pool in the drain pipes, which can still cause moisture-related problems in the basement. Some experts use drainage basins with 30-inch depths or 36-inch depths for systems that exceed 120 feet. Drains longer than 180 feet may require two drainage basins.

The next part of basin installation is drilling holes into the blocks if the wall has concrete. Make the holes 1 inch in the mortar joint and the block core. It ensures water that pools in the block core or between the blocks to reach the drain pipes. Again, try to maintain a closer distance to the footings as possible. You may have to remove foundation wrap or any wall near the foundation footing, especially if the lower wall blocks are made with concrete. You can also reduce dust by putting a vacuum hose closer to the hole you are drilling.

Basement Drainage Basin Installation

Set the Water Basin Basement Drainage System Up

Here, you put the basin in place, after which you identify and mark the areas where the pipes and the drainage basin will intersect. Use the holes on the drain pipes for accuracy. Remember, you will need a layer of rock beneath the drains close to the drainage basin.

Ensure you use an appropriate saw when cutting the holes. It can be a jigsaw, hole saw, or reciprocating saw, but the holes do not have to be precise.

When removing the dirt, remember to leave some behind to fill the area around the basin. You can always dispose of extra debris after installing the basin. Once you are satisfied with the basin placement, fill the gaps, and do not forget to tramp the dirt using a 2×4.

Do not drill holes in the basin. If you do so to the bottom of the drainage basin and the water table is high, water will come from the bottom constantly, forcing the pump to run continuously.

Set the Water Basin Basement Drainage System Up

Installing the Pipe the Right Way

Prepare the bottom layer before putting the pipes in place. Lay down washed river rocks at least half an inch in the trench. Avoid smaller rocks because minerals can accumulate on them. Maintain a slope of at least ¼ inches every 10 feet as the pipe is installed towards the basin. Adjust the rocks beneath it to get the necessary pitch.

Laying the pipe in position is the next step. Regular drain pipes are not ideal for use here because of their susceptibility to clogging. According to the experts, a schedule 10 pipe with four inches diameter and perforations is a better option. Finally, pay attention to the holes in the drain pipe. One with ½ inch holes on one side is better than one with rows of holes on all sides.

Let the side of the pipe with rows face down to allow minerals and other sediments to seep into the ground as water passes through the drain. That ensures that water that rises from the ground is without such impurities. In addition, the entire system will last longer when not exposed to the minerals.

When connecting, start at the end of the basin. Insert the male side of the pipe into the drainage basin for about 4 inches. You do not have to use cement paste to join the sections. However, you can use ABS or PVC elbows to connect corners. Keep the left-over pipes – you can use them later in other projects.

Installing the Pipe the Right Way

Time to Divert the Water to the Trench

Start by drilling holes into each of the mortar joints and block cores. Make them one inch to accommodate the irrigation hoses with similar dimensions. The hose transports water from the block core to the trenches. That makes their placement crucial to how the entire system will operate.

Avoid using garden hoses or any other softer types because they can become flattened or crushed by the concrete, rendering them useless. Instead, use an irrigation hose only. Use a reciprocating saw or hacksaw when cutting them to maintain precision. Double-check the placement to ensure the hose goes past the footing by a few inches.

Installing a Foundation Wrap

Some basement walls have poured concrete instead of blocks. In that case, you will need foundation wraps to ensure water gets into the drains as it is supposed to. The image below indicates how that works. The wrap consists of hard plastic with a dimpled design that ensures water flows behind it.

Use a utility knife to cut the wrap sheets into strips, then bend each one to a 90-degree angle. Install them and let at least half the length of the bottom section reach below the footing. The size of the wrap you use against the wall should depend on your circumstances.

If the wall has poured concrete, let the wrap run up to 4 inches above it. If made of blocks, let it run at least 4 inches past the holes you drilled in the previous step. Those who have stud walls, tuck the wrap behind the lower plate.

Cover the Floor Up

After putting the foundation wrap and hoses in place, the last step is covering them up. However, before that, you must fill the trench with river rocks until they get to the bottom of the slab. The river rocks should also be covered with a vapour barrier, which may be a plastic cover that is six mil.

Mixing the concrete can be very messy. Do it outside to reduce the need for cleaning. You can use the bagged concrete used for slabs and sidewalks. Screed the laid concrete using a 3 feet section of 2×4 by sliding it along the floor. You can also smoothen it over with a hand float.  Wait approximately 20 minutes and use a finishing trowel to smooth it over to get a perfect finish. The float can also come in handy when filling available gaps in the walls.

Cover the Floor Up

Locate the Pipes so They Could Slope Away from The House

The final step is installing your preferred sump pump, whether submersible or pedestal. Many professionals prefer installing submersible sump pumps because they have a vertical float switch. That position makes them more reliable than pedestal pumps.

Insert a 6-inch or 8-inch section into the pump. Next, install a check valve, making sure it does not interfere with the pump switch. Connect a different pipe section on top of the check valve. Ensure it is long enough to go above the top of the basin slightly.

Drill a vapour lock release hole on the pipe section that is underneath the check valve. It should be between ¼ and 3/8 inches. Its purpose is to ensure the pump does not encounter too much pressure as it opens the valve. The hole gives it time to warm up and endure the pressure that may arise from gallons of water pressing on the check valve. The hole should also be at an angle to allow water to spray down when the pump is active. Have a specific power outlet for the pump. Using extension cords or connecting other appliances to the same circuit can be unreliable. The extensions could loosen from the connection point, and other electrical devices can trip a circuit breaker.

The water outlet pipe should be in a place sloping away from the house. That could mean using a waste pipe that you can bury in the trench and bring back up whenever necessary. Pipes that run above grade in colder locations should not be more than 8 inches past the siding to avoid freezing during the winter season.

In most cases, the water from the basement is not disposable in the city sewers. Most areas allow the use of drainage into storm sewers located above grade. Confirm the rules in your location before the installation.

Direct Waterproofing For Basement Drainage Systems

Direct Waterproofing can install the highest quality basement drainage system. Using our expertise and over 25 years experience, we can diagnose problem areas, and come up with options that will improve your basement, and your home. The aim is to help you live a life that is free from damp, and our top quality basement drainage systems are just one way that we accomplish it.

Contact us today to find out more about our basement waterproofing services, or to arrange a free consultation.

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