French Drain Vs Sump Pump: Breakdown Guide

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The two most efficient and popular home drainage methods, the French drain and sump pump, are often held at a particular pedestal to determine which one is better. So is there any significant difference between a French drain and a sump pump? In theory, no, but in practice, yes. While these devices have numerous similarities, they do not have the same function for protecting your home.

Keeping in mind, how do we decide which one will provide more protection out of the two?  One way to do this is to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a French drain and a sump pump and how they both operate. But before we get into this, we need to know what a sump pump and a French drain are and their necessary installation process.

French Drain Vs Sump Pump

French Drain: Everything You Need to Know

A French drain consists of a simple ditch pitched from high ground to a lower area and is usually filled with gravel. It is designed to stop water from flooding into the basement.

To install French drains in your basement, you have to follow a simple procedure:

  1. Dig the interior part of the cellar by leaving a minimum of one foot of space or clearance.
  2. Next, tap and drill some weep holes in the walls so that the remaining water can drain out.
  3. Set up a slotted drainage pipe and cover it with gravel.
  4. Apply cement on the perimeter
  5. Lastly, connect your drainage pipes to your sump pump system to channel the water out of your property.

This device will protect the basement by taking out water from every nook and corner so that your furniture and belongings remain safe and preserved.

Sump Pump: Everything You Need to Know

A sump pump is an electrically powered machine designed to protect your basement from flooding and keep it as dry as possible. To install one, you need to follow the procedure carefully.

  1. Depending on the type of sump pump, you have to install the drainage pipes on your property. Usually, it is installed close to the perimeter of your property.
  2. Locate the area of your home that accumulates the most amount of water.
  3. Drill some weep holes around the base of your sump pump.
  4. Next, test the float valve of your sump pump.
  5. Excavate an area for your sump pump liner.
  6. Set up an inside filter to stop slit and other debris from blocking your pump.
  7. Put your sump pump within the liner.
  8. Connect your sump pump to the drainage pipes.
  9. Fill up the hole with gravel.
  10. Lastly, cover the gravel-filled hole with a fresh layer of concrete.

Having a high-capacity sump pump for your basement is an ideal solution if your home experiences flooding in the spring and winter. When you install the sump pump underneath, you will effectively protect the basement’s low-grade parts from extreme flooding.

Now that we know what a sump pump how their system works and a French drain are and how to install them, it’s time we talk about the pros and cons of each tool and how best they can serve your needs.

Benefits of the French Drain

Unlike a sump pump, a French drain has passive draining rather than an off-and-on system. The drain lines are laid in the ground with a small slope to benefit from gravity and channel water away from your basement. There is no float or motor switch for the drain; the water is collected and drained over time. Furthermore, if you have a well-designed French drain system in your property, it can route water away from the basement and prevent draining as well. You can do this by arranging a series of drains to empty in an ideal part of your home or the city drainage.

Another considerable advantage of it is that it doesn’t need any electricity to run like the sump pump. All it requires is gravity, and as long as the drain remains unblocked for a smooth flow of water. Most homeowners prefer having a French drain over a sump pump because it promotes a noise-free operation. A sump pump is usually pretty loud, more so if it is situated under your bedroom with a thin floor.

French Drain

Benefits of the Sump Pump

When it comes to pumping and draining a considerable amount of water, the sump pump takes the lead over the French drain. Another advantage that a sump pump has is active draining. French drains, on the other hand, perform passive draining. This means you don’t have to turn on anything during a massive flood or storm.

Sump pumps instead will activate instantly when the float begins to rise, which means that as long as the pump drains more water than the intake, your basement won’t flood. French drains are known to empty small to average amounts of water over a short time. But they are unable to handle a large amount of water during massive flooding.

A basement sump pump can easily manage to remove a massive influx of water in the blink of an eye when you activate the ‘as needed’ option. It will work efficiently when the water needs to be pumped downhill because gravity favors this scenario. But it will not be able to empty the water from your flooded basement. However, the sump pump can pump the water uphill, which gives it an advantageous edge over the French drains.

Even when installing a sump pump, it requires minimum cost and time to get it set up, especially by a professional.

Do you need a sump pump with French drains?

A French drain is not equipped to deal with large volumes of water. It is designed to handle small to medium amounts. So, if you living in an area that’s prone to flash flooding, or if you are living downhill, then it is better to install a sump pump as a backup to the French drains.

Will a French drain prevent water in the basement?

Yes. One of the benefits of having a French drain is that it can be installed both inside and outside your home. So, if you notice water seeping into your basement, you can install an interior French drain at the corner. It can handle the excess water in your basement and keep it damp-free.

Who Wins?

Both the sump pump and French drains have their benefits, so it is quite challenging to know which one is better. The question is whether they can permanently waterproof the basement of your property. Since they both have their pros and cons, it depends on your needs and compatibility with your home. If your head is about to explode due to indecision, you can always use both of them together to experience the best results.

The power is yours!

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