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Sumps, French Drains, and Waterproofing: Oh My!

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Installing basement waterproofing

Cleveland residents know just how trying a year’s worth of rain can be. Even if your basement doesn’t flood, the sheer amount of moisture in the air can compromise the structural integrity of any home.

What waterproofing solutions should you invest in, then, if you want to keep your home safe from lake effect and other weather issues? How can you keep water out of your foundation? How, too, can you tell the difference between solutions like the French drain and sump pump, which sound so similar?

Let’s break these two solutions down and see if one seems like it’ll be better for your home than the other.

All About French Drains

French drains are touted as some of the best waterproofing solutions available to Cleveland residents to date. These drains are great for comprehensive waterproofing and can help protect your home from light to above-average flooding or moisture.

To install a French drain, the contractor you hire on will need to take the following steps:

Installed basement gutter
  • Excavate the interior of your basement, leaving at least one foot of clearance.
  • Tap and bleed (or drill weep holes in) the walls to allow any existing water or moisture to drain out.
  • Install slotted drainage pipe and covering the laid pipe with gravel.
  • Re-cement your perimeter.
  • Connect drainage pipes to a sump pump system to move water out of your home.

When you have a French drain installed, you’ll be back to business as usual in no time at all – this time without the flooding.

That said, French drains aren’t perfect. If you try to DIY your pipe system, too, you can risk compromising the structural integrity of your entire home.

All About Sump Pumps

Sump pumps, comparatively, are more aggressive than their French cousins. These pumps put in a lot of work to keep your home dry, using electricity to move water out of your home.

To install a sump pump, the contractor you hire will need to take the following steps:

Installed sump pump
  • If applicable, lay drainage pipes near the perimeter of your home.
  • Find the spot in your home that collects the most water.
  • Drill weep holes around your sump pump’s base, if determined to be appropriate.
  • Test the sump pump’s float valve.
  • Dig out a spot for the sump pump pit and liner.
  • Install an interior filter to prevent silt and other obstacles from clogging the pump.
  • Set the sump pump inside the liner.
  • Connect the pump to drainage pipes.
  • Fill the hole with gravel.
  • Cover the gravel with a new layer of concrete.

As you can see, there are several similarities between the sump pump installation process and the French drain installation process. What can a sump pump do, though, that a French drain can’t?

French drains collect the leaking water, and sump pumps keep water from immediately re-entering your home. As a result, your belongings and structure stay safe, and the pump doesn’t over-exert itself.

If your power goes out, you could find yourself contending with all of the standing water you once thought you were rid of. That’s why it’s best to have a battery backup system for your sump pump.

Why Not Both?

So which of the two waterproofing solutions is better: the French drain or the sump pump?

In the end, it’s far less about which solution is better and more about your unique situation. However, if you live in an area like Cleveland, which sees lake effect rain and snow, you may want to invest in more comprehensive solutions.

One of the best ways to overcome the “which is better” debate, more often than not, is to install both solutions inside your home. A French drain’s pipe system will help intercept leaking water, and the sump pump system removes this water from the basement and keeps it from immediately making its way back inside.

In the end, these two solutions complement one another more often than they contest one another. Why not take advantage of that?

Above all else, don’t wait to talk to your local contractor about the waterproofing solutions best suited for your home. If you’re dealing with a leak, a foundation crack, or excess moisture in your home, reach out to the professional contractors working in the Cleveland area for a free inspection and estimate as soon as possible.

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