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Basement Drain Basics

Plumbing
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Few things are more frustrating than dealing with a flooded basement, but a basement drain can alleviate this concern. A properly-functioning basement drain and sump pump can get that water out of your basement before it damages the walls and floors or destroys your irreplaceable photo albums and family heirlooms.

Occasionally, the groundwater levels outside the basement will rise above the level of the floor. When this happens, your basement is basically like a boat floating on the pond. If there is any leak at all, even a hairline crack, hydrostatic pressure will push the water into your basement. If the leak goes undetected for too long, the water can eventually accumulate in your basement.

A basement drain diverts the water away from areas where it can cause damage to walls, carpets, or other belongings. The groundwater drains by gravity into a sump pit, and is discharged out of the house by a sump pump.

Basement Drain Types

There are two types of drain systems for basements: the above-slab gutter system and the under-floor drainage system.

The above-slab gutter system is a drainage channel that is attached to the foundation wall and floor slab. This channel sits at the base of the wall, collecting excess water and draining it to the sump basin. While this is the cheaper of the two choices, the above-slab basement drain has a couple of distinct shortcomings. It can only drain the water level down to the top of the floor slab, which means makes it less effective when dealing with cracks and leaks in the floor itself. Since some water is inevitably left behind, basements with this type of drain become susceptible to mold, mildew, and excessive humidity.

The under-floor drainage system is installed in the footing, beneath the floor slab. Plastic dimpled sheets, similar to small egg crates, are placed at the base of the wall and beneath the edge of the slab so water can drain. Since the basement drain is at a lower level than the slab, it drains excess water to a lower level as well. The under-floor basement drain is more expensive than the above-slab gutter, but is much more effective at removing the excess water.

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