Any book recommendations on french drainage?

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Old 02-07-10, 06:03 PM
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Any book recommendations on french drainage?

I think I'd like to try and do some of the needed drainage systems for my house myself. An engineer has already told me that I need french drains installed on one side and rather than paying $5000 for a crew to come out, I thought if I could go slow over the course of a couple weeks I could do this on my own.

I've already looked at my local Lowes and they have plenty of 4" perforated pvc pipe and geotextile fabric for the actual drain line. I think though seeing the project in pictures from a book would be helpful. I know I need a slight incline to direct the water toward the street. Having a book or watching a video would be helpful.
 
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Old 02-07-10, 06:19 PM
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Do a Google using the terms installing a french drain and you'll find more information than you could ever want.
 
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Old 02-08-10, 08:31 AM
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Yes I have searched around on google already. There are still a couple of questions though. For example, I've never done any sort of grading when digging before. I have a basic carpenters level and can get some stakes easily but I just need to know how to set up the grade properly. All of the websites talking about install french drains don't go into a lot of detail.

Regarding the gravel fill you place into the trench once you have the pipe set, do you specifically want to fill the trench/landscape fabric with a little gravel on the bottom first, then lay down the pipe, then pour the rest of the gravel? Or just leave the pipe on the bottom and fill in with gravel?
 
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Old 02-08-10, 10:29 AM
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Some of the concerns are:
1. Where are you, ie do you encounter frost and how much?
2. What is the current landscaping? Can you drain to daylight? You mention the street, is there a curb and are there restrictions related to exposed pipes dumping water there.
3. Is this water from the gutters or from a sump pump?
4. What are your current soils, clay, gravel, dirt/soil?

Check with your local rental places as even the smallest backhoe/loader is 1000 times better than a shovel and wheel barrow.

I did some searching, but as Furd stated, there are so many links it is hard for me to say this is a good one for you. Surface drainage, ditches, gutters, and all kinds of applications. I did add "pictures" to my search as I find they explain things better.

Bud
 
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Old 02-08-10, 04:46 PM
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1. Southwest area, so no real problems with frost.

2. I'm draining from the backyard which is heavily shaded. The yard itself is already sloping in the direction I need to put the drain. There is a curb but it will not be a problem to cut a hole in the curb for the outlet; many other properties in the area already do this.

3. Yes, water from the gutters and also any excess surface water from rain. No sump pumps here.

4. The soil is just dirt; we don't hit clay around here until at least 2+ feet down.
 
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Old 02-08-10, 05:11 PM
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If you have some good sod, you can use a sod cutter to remove and save it. No frost and an existing slope makes it easy. Actually it sounds like a beer party to me, but with my crew, that might cost more than jobbing it out.

Maybe I'm wrong here, but my impression of a French drain has always been an exposed channel filled with gravel to direct surface water to a drain pipe and so on. Most of my work has always been simple, a burried drain pipe, not the same but we have a 5' plus frost line. Your job sounds easy, but let's let the pros fill in the details.

Bud
 
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Old 02-08-10, 05:19 PM
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Hi, I just was reading your post. I'm no expert,but aren't french drains used in places where you can't dump the water? You stated you were going to core the curb and dump the water into the street. If that is the case why would you use a perforated pipe?
Also if you are going to the curb I believe your trenches would be rather shallow and backhoe would be a bit much. I just had some drainage installed with some concrete work and I dump gutter water and surface water into the street so that is why I am interested.
Good Luck Woodbutcher
 
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Old 02-08-10, 05:43 PM
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I agree with the others, what you describe is a walk in the park. Use solid PVC rigid pipe and lay it with a slope of about 1/8 to 1/4 inch per foot. Grade the topsoil so that it slopes away from the house and you don't need to use perforated pipe.

If you can't slope the ground away from the house then you need to use the perforated pipe along the foundation. Ideally you would use solid pipe separate from the perforated pipe for the gutter/downspout drains and then wye it into the solid pipe downstream from the foundation so that the water from the gutters/downspouts cannot overwhelm the perforated pipe making the situation worse for water intrusion through the foundation.

A true French drain is a ditch sloped to drain to a lower area and filled with gravel. The term has come to mean any type of foundation or even yard drains, often using solid or perforated pipe.
 
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Old 02-08-10, 07:04 PM
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Ok based on some of the new replies it seems like I'm giving accurate info. Let me try to give some more details here of why I need a french drain (aside from the twice suggested remedy by the civil engineer I hired).

My backyard is elevated relative to the the concrete slab of the house...almost 2 feet difference in fact. This slope allows water to flow toward the house, which is bad. Thus I need to remove this water.

The remedy suggested by the engineer and both contractors I asked to come give quotes suggested perforated pipe around the back section facing the yard and also the immediate corner adjacent to it. The total length of both sections is less than 30 feet. So just try to imagine an "L" about 30 feet total length.

Once that is set, there then a straight run of about 60 feet to the curb; I had planned on using just regular, NOT perforated, pvc pipe for the the run to the street. However once it reaches a certain point in the side/front yard, there is a steep hill, so I'll angle it downward to keep level with the ground. So you see, I have to get the angles just right at the very beginning of that L to match a certain grade such that when it comes out in the side/front yard it is still sloping downward despite the immediate slope of the ground.

Both contractors specifically put in their quotes a minimum depth of 18" for the trench. I don't have a problem digging the trench that deep and keeping it consistent. In fact I would probably prefer it to be around the 24" mark to make absolutely sure that it catches as much water as possible. This condition has existed for quite some time now and the engineer specifically indicated that if the drainage problem isn't corrected it can cause foundation problems...which I don't want. The whole reason why is because when that water seeps into the ground from some of the heavy rains we've had, that soil cannot dry out enough or fast enough.

I had planned to use a couple of wyes to tie in the existing gutter downspouts...that shouldn't really be a problem.

Like I mentioned earlier, my main questions right now are how to properly stake a grade. I know it probably sounds simple to some of you but I've never done it before. I know it's recommended that for these types of drains you need a minimum of a 1% grade. I just need to understand how deep to place the stakes, where to mark the string, (what type of string anyway? nylon?), what that string means when moved, how to level everything, etc.

And then also the gravel. Pour some on the trench fabric first, lay the pipe, then fill in the rest of the gravel? Or lay the pipe down then just pour in gravel?

EDIT: One more question...there are 2 gutters I need to tie into this system that the downspouts are practically right next to each other. Literally within just a few inches. Anyway, the downspouts come out at the corner section of the L where I would need the perforated pvc for drainage. Is it ok to tie gutters to perforated pipe?
 
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Old 02-09-10, 05:52 AM
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Downspout Drains

I would use separate, solid pipe for the downspouts. Otherwise the downspout water will aggravate your underground water problem. You may be able to run the downspout pipe in the same ditch as the French drain pipes. Just my 2 cents. Good luck with your project.
 
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Old 02-09-10, 07:01 AM
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It seems I have had my share of dealing with slopes like that, that would dump the runoff up against a foundation. All of the ones I have worked on, we have used a surface solution, well not all, but a lot. By terracing that two foot elevation down 3 or 4 feet, then back up to the foundation, you create a permanent drainage area with a swale to carry the water around the house and out to the street. I know this sounds like a lot of work and a total re-planting of the lawn, but if the surrounding landscape is correct, something like this can be a really nice long term low maintenance solution. Feel free to discard if it doesn't work for you, just wanted to put it on the table for consideration. One small dozer, 3 to 4 hours max. It will probably take longer to set your grades than for the dozer to move the soil. Right guy, $500 to $800, a guess. But don't worry, he will leave the finish raking for you . No pipes, no gravel, unless you want to add them.

enjoy,
Bud
 
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