What are the Different Options for Basement Drains?

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  • Written By: T. L. Childree
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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There are three different options for basement drains and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The three options are exterior footing drains, interior footing drains, and baseboard drains. The exterior footing variant draws water away from the structure to a submerged outside pipe connected to a storm drain. Interior footing drains are installed on the inside of the basement in place of a sump pump system. Baseboard drains utilize a system of vinyl drainage channels connected to a sump pump device.

Exterior footing basement drains are usually installed underground along the foundation of a structure and are often referred to as French drains. This drain typically consists of a semicircular pipe with a screen filter over the open portion to prevent soil and debris from blocking the flow of water. Exterior footing drains can be an effective basement drainage option when installed deep enough in the ground. The only disadvantage to exterior footing drains is the possibility of the filter becoming clogged over time. If this occurs, the pipe will have to be excavated and the filter replaced to continue providing adequate basement drainage.


Interior footing basement drains are typically installed beneath the concrete foundation of a basement and are also a type of French drain. In existing structures, a portion of the concrete slab is removed along the foundation of the basement and a perforated pipe is installed in a gravel base. The openings in the pipe are covered with filter material and concrete is the poured over the drain with a narrow gap left along the wall. Surface water flows through the gap and into the drainpipe where it is carried out of the basement area. The main disadvantage to interior footing drains is the possibility of a clogged filter that requires additional concrete removal and replacement.

Baseboard basement drains offer a way of providing drainage to the structure without the need for costly filter changing procedures. This drainage method consists of hollow vinyl baseboards that collect water from small holes drilled in the basement walls. The baseboards are connected to a sump pump system designed to transport the water to exterior underground pipes. The exterior pipes then carry the water to a downhill location for disposal. Although this basement drainage method does not utilize a filter, it requires a constant source of electricity to operate the sump pump; minor flooding can occur if this equipment is out of service for extended periods.


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