Happy Drains Blog

What is a French Drain?

First of all, French Drains are not from France! They are actually named after a 19th century American government official called Henry French. He probably didn’t invent them himself, but he did describe and popularise them.

A French Drain is essentially an external trench dug at a gradient, with a perforated pipe inside, with the trench then filled with gravel. Sometimes the top of the trench is covered by turf. It simply uses gravity to carry water away from a wall or other structure such as a driveway. The water runs into the trench and seeps into the pipe, which then carries it away into a soakaway or larger drainage area.

French drains are often recommended for heritage properties which may have been built without a damp-proof course and with minimal foundations. Without such drains, rising damp could occur which has the potential to damage wood, plaster, brickwork or stonework.

As you might expect, there are rules and regulations about constructing French Drains, so even though it may be a fairly simple DIY task to build one, you should check with your local authority first.

And of course, like all drains, French Drains do require regular maintenance. You should inspect them each year for signs of obstruction. If a building has French Drains all around and they become blocked, they could form a mini-moat around the structure, making any damp problems much worse! If you have water pooling around your property, this may be due to a problem with your existing drains. So if you want to know whether a French Drain could solve some of the drainage problems you’re encountering, or you have any issues with your existing French Drains, give us a call at Happy Drains.