Three Things To Look For When Inspecting A French Drain System

Posted on: 8 April 2016


If you're a homeowner who is installing a French drain system in your yard, you're taking a great step toward keeping your yard and home safe from being overwhelmed by rainwater. But as simple as French drains are, they aren't maintenance-free. They do need periodic inspection to ensure they aren't failing and haven't become damaged. Here are three things you need to have the drain system inspected for on a regular basis.

Shifting Ground

If the French drain you have is the underground-filtering-pipe type, shifting ground can be a big problem. Whether you've had earthquake activity, erosion from a lot of rain runoff, or frost heave, if the ground moves, it can move the drain with it, possibly cracking a pipe or straining a connection. Minor cracks likely won't stop most of the water from flowing down the drain as usual, but water can seep out of those cracks and soak the soil in that area, drowning grass or other nearby plants. If the ground moves in such a way that the pipe is now bent upward, water can pool in the bent area and corrode the damaged section of the pipe.

Compaction From Foot and Mower Traffic

Another issue for underground-pipe French drains is that if you keep walking over the area or using a heavy mower on the grass around there, you could compact the soil. That can crush and block the drain, leading to leaks, soaked soil, drowned plants, muddy soil that's a slipping hazard, and so on.

Broken Screens, Clogged Screens, and Hidden Debris

Debris in the drain is another problem. Whether you're dealing with clogged screen holes in underground pipes or hidden debris lodged in the rocks in a rock-path-type French drain, any clogs can cause water to back up and ruin the soil and landscaping in that area. If the water stays on the surface in a puddle, it can become stagnant and become a home for mosquito larvae.

When you have the drain installed, talk to the company working on the drain and arrange to have them come back every so often to check the drain. In between those appointments, walk around the drain area regularly -- carefully so you don't compact the soil -- to see if you can spot signs of leaks or bent pipes. Also have the drain inspected after quakes or severe storms that caused noticeable flooding and erosion in your yard.