What Is Drain Tile and Is It Necessary?

Drain Tile

You probably have lived in a house constructed decades ago and have recently noticed that there is a pool of water forming around the basement. Furthermore, every time you enter the basement, you can barely breathe due to the musty smell, so you have no option but to call the professionals. Upon investigation, they tell you that you need to replace the drain tile system because the pipes have deteriorated. You barely understand what a drain tile is hence wonder if it is even necessary. Well, here is everything you need to know about drain tile, how it works, and its purpose in your home.

Drain Tile Definition

As Hunker explains, drain tile does not refer to tiles but a system of porous PVC pipes or flexible plastic pipes laid beneath the ground. It can be installed outside along the home’s foundation’s perimeter or inside under the basement floor. The installation is not limited to these two areas because contractors can determine which areas prone to water pooling best need drain tile. The main aim of the drain tile is to take excess moisture from the foundation’s base and redirect it to a sump pump which then carries it away from the house. A sump pump is unnecessary if the house is on a downslope since the gravity will facilitate excess water flow. As a result, the purpose of the drain tile is to prevent water from pooling around the foundation. For this reason, homes with lots of underground water beneath them need a grid of drain tile to keep up with the amount of water seeping through the soil. Additionally, places prone to severe flooding and excessive runoff from urban expansion require drain tile systems to prevent damage to the foundation and the structure as a whole.

How Drain Tile Works

According to Reid and Peterson, the drain tile system comprises crush-resistant PVC pipes perforated to allow in the groundwater. The pipes are installed in a trench after the foundation footer of a new home is laid; the trench is usually dug alongside the foundation footer. The drain tile is then covered with gravel large enough to not get in the holes of the perforated pipes but small enough to filter water as it seeps into the pipe. A porous fabric then covers the drain tile. It ensures that as water seeps into the pipe, the soil remains outside. The system is completed with a layer of soil covering the pipes. Some common qualities of an affective drain tile as laid out by US Waterproofing include perforated drain tile and a bed of stones to facilitate drainage to the pipe. The article elaborates that while some drain tiles have different types of stones, the washed gravel measuring about 3/4 inches promotes the best water flow. Reportedly, smaller gravel or compacted stones hinder drainage because they are too close together; thus, the lack of space between the stones impedes water flow. As for the drainage tile pipes, they come in different shapes, but most are cylindrical. However, the shape of the pipes does not affect the flow of water. The diameter of the pipes ranges from 2 inches to 18 inches, but the standard size is 4 inches. Besides PVC, pipes can also be constructed from clay or ABS. If using PVC pipes, the drain tile is usually available in lengths of 10 feet. Corrugated ABS pipes come in lengths of between 100 feet and 3000 feet. PVC pipes require corner fittings to change pipe direction, and the length of a 10-foot pipe is $8.95. ABS pipes are cheaper at $0.89 per foot and do not require corner fittings. They are more durable because of their polyvinyl composition. According to American Dry, they will not crack when a car weighing over 2800 pounds drive over them.

Is Drain Tile Necessary?

According to Rate Hub, water damage is the leading cause of home and tenant insurance claims. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your perimeter is well-drained. However, you will note that while water damage is common in many homes, your homeowners insurance will only cover a handful of cases. Such instances include flood damage for those with flood insurance cover, storm-related water damage, sudden or accidental water discharge, and accidental sewer overflow. Gradual water damage, such as foundation seepage that happens when you opt not to have drain tile, will not be covered by insurance. Besides, even if you have drain tile and fail to maintain it such that it eventually results in extensive damage, it is improbable that your homeowners insurance will cover it. Therefore, it is important to install the drain tile and maintain it regularly. This prevents the pipes from getting clogged or damaged over time. While it can be difficult to keep checking for damage in pipes installed underneath, you can tell there is a problem if there is mold in the basement, cracks, water stains, musty smells, and even water pooling around the home’s exterior. If you move into a new home, make sure to ask if it has a drain tile system; if there is, ensure that it is still in ideal condition. If the home does not have a drain tile system, it is advisable to install one. It can be a costly affair depending on what will be involved. For instance, the bigger the home, the more the pipes needed and the more digging required for trenches; consequently, the cost will rise. If there is concrete to be dug, and if you opt for manual digging instead of machine excavation, it will be a bit more expensive. Still, regardless of the costs involved, it is better to pay whatever it takes to have the drain tile installed instead of repairing the damage caused by water seepage from the foundation.

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