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While the expression goes, “April showers bring May flowers,” in South Carolina, late spring to early summer is the season for heavy rains. And with heavy rains comes inevitable flooding. Preparing your home or office for flood prevention is common sense; water damage has many insidious forms: softened drywall, structural rot, mold, mildew, poor air quality, and more. Water seeps into crawlspaces, basements, and ground floors and often unexpectedly causes permanent damage. In worse-case scenarios, undetected and untreated water issues can cause structural problems in buildings, rotting floor joists, and eroding foundations. Repairs can quickly become more costly than investing in prevention, even if you are insured against flood damage.
There are several options for homeowners regarding moisture and water control, although the best and most effective is a French drain and sump pump system. These systems are designed to first wick water away from the foundation and push out groundwater that has seeped up through your basement. A drainage system is a must-have for any home and requires inspection during the initial build. Unfortunately, French drain system standards have changed dramatically from decade to decade; old drainage technology often fails. Common French drains installed in homes built throughout the 80’s feature small tubes that lead to a large PVC drain connected to your sump. However, we know now that groundwater can easily exceed the flow capability of these tubes, causing water to pool up and apply pressure to your foundation. Older and well-used French drains may also need to be replaced due to blockages from sediment built up over the years.
Replacing or installing a new French drain system may seem like a daunting task; however, the proper tools installation will become more efficient and cost-effective. Contractors frequently tasked with sump installations throughout the rainier months rely on high-tech tools to quickly close out the project while ensuring that pipes are a perfect fit and working well. Because your French drain should be installed about a foot below your footer— around 5 feet, as a rule of thumb— heavy equipment is recommended for getting the job done within your expected timeframe. Consider purchasing or renting material handling equipment, a trencher, a liquid vacuum unit, and a portable gray water tank to remove stagnant groundwater from the worksite.
Ever noticed a damp smell in your basement? The answer is obvious: water. A quick way to check for water buildup around your foundation is to look at the brick or block foundation wall from your basement. Do you notice dampness or a cloud-like pattern on the block’s surface? These are tell-tale signs of sitting water. Constant moisture in dark and warm conditions found in your basement or crawlspace can easily emit an odor. This odor is not just unpleasant but can carry bacteria and mold spores throughout your house, worsening the air quality inside. Even in the short term, this condition is back for your health.
Laying perforated PVC piping below your foundation’s footer allows water to flow into an outlay of pipes and flow away from the area. Preventing pooling and moving the water out is just one step. For homes built into clay soil, this is not enough to prevent water damage. Clay soils retain more moisture than sand or composted soil. PVC material is an easy material to work with so long as you have the proper tools. Contractors can easily map an area for a French drain system with a design program like SketchUp. French drains should avoid turning at sharp angles and rely on smooth curves for better water flow. According to design, you can choose to bend one continuous pipe, creating a seamless channel for water flow. You also have the option to cut lines to length and join them with larger PVC connector joints. These joints can be threaded and fixed with a plumber’s tape or glued together with a plumber’s primer and glue. Unfortunately, glued joints are permanent and need to be cut off from the main pipe to make adjustments. Threaded joints allow workers to easily cut and readjust pipes during installation, a great feature to fix unexpected mistakes.
Direct your drainpipes towards your sump pump. Water in the sump pump basin rises until the sump pump activates. The sump motor propels water out a smaller, pressurized pipe to your designated drainage area. Sumps are an excellent addition to French drain systems. For buildings located at the foot of an incline or without an ideal drainage plain, sump pumps can force the water away from the building.
This season, consider investing in a new or updated drainage system. Whether you are a contractor or self-sufficient homeowner, prepare for installation with the suitable materials and tools to get the job done. The steps before installation are considered the most important, from PPE and hand tools to larger machinery and design software.