What are the Different Types of Home Drainage?

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  • Written By: Jeri Sullivan
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2018
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Home drainage is the system by which water is drained away from the home. The most common types of systems are French drains, channel drains, downspouts, slope drains, and a drainage ditch. Regardless of how the water arrived, all drainage systems are meant to divert water so there are not leaks into the house, standing water that attracts pests, or erosion around the foundation.

A French drain is basically a ditch dug around the foundation's perimeter to let the water flow away from the structure. Many drains also contain perforated pipes that are buried under gravel or pebbles. The water drains through the surface gravel and seeps into the pipe's perforations before traveling out the end of the pipe into an area that can accommodate extra water.

A channel drain is a long, narrow ditch used to quickly move large amounts of water. Also called a trench drain, channel drains are typically constructed of concrete. In addition to draining water, they can also be used to hold buried utility lines and cables. Though not often used in rural areas, channel drains are seen in larger suburban areas where homes are built relatively close together.


Downspouts are a traditional type of home drainage system and work by diverting water from a home's foundation. As part of a gutter system, downspouts are attached at the bottom of the gutter and tilted at an angle so the water flows away. They are usually constructed of aluminum or vinyl and are also available in longer flexible pieces that can divert water several feet away.

Another type of system is a slope drain, which employs gravity to work. When a home is on a hill or has even a slight slope, the water can be directed away from the foundation using the principle of negative slope. This type of system typically involves a flexible hose of PVC or plastic laid into a tunnel. The tunnel is dug from the home's foundation to a more suitable spot such as a flower bed or drainage ditch where the water can be reused.

A drainage ditch is usually meant to drain excess water from lawns and yards. The ditch is dug along the street and water runs from the lawn into the ditch, then flows into the waste water system. This prevents standing water or erosion from ruining a home's landscaping.


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Post 8

You would think that after all the years of drainage problems that homeowners have had, that builders would be able to set up better drainage systems. They should think about the worst case scenario and use the best suited type of drains to construct the drainage systems when building houses.

They should do more planning when excavating the land around a new house. They need to consider the type of soil they are working with - how well it absorbs water. Well, enough complaining. But I really think builders could do better.

Of course, homeowners have to take some responsibility for good drainage by clearing out leaves and other debris that collects at the drain opening.

Post 7

It seems like nearly everyone has drainage problems on their property at one time or another.

My daughter's backyard is at the bottom of a slope. And the soil is clay, so water doesn't absorb water well.

Once last winter, it rained extremely hard. The basement door is below a slight slope and stairway. It flooded and made a mess of part of the basement. Carpet had to be taken up and replaced. Even a few worms came in with the rainwater. Yuk!

Her husband took the easy way out and put sand bags around the door. It worked. They haven't had any trouble since.

Post 6

@indemnifyme - My parents purchased flood insurance about a year ago. Six months after they purchased it, we had a run of bad weather and their whole basement flooded. They were extremely glad they had the extra insurance. Good tip.

As the article said, I really think the type of drainage system that's built into your home depends on where you live. For example, all my friends that live in more rural area have French drains. And most of my suburban buddies have a gutter system.

Post 5

I would just like to take a second and remind everyone to purchase flood insurance (if you own a home, that is). If you have problems with drainage, and your basement floods or something, a regular homeowners policy doesn't cover it. So buy flood insurance now so you're not sorry later!

Anyway, now I will step off my soap box. Home drainage can be so troublesome. When I was growing up, my house and all the other houses in the neighborhood had gutter systems.

Ours worked all right, but leaves and stuff were always getting stuck on top of the gutters. Our neighborhood had a pretty overzealous homeowners association, so we were always getting notices to have it cleaned. Good times.

Post 4

Does anyone else have a lot of problems with yard drainage near their home? Do you have any tips on how to fix drainage issues?

My home sits at the bottom of a slope and it seems that every time it rains we end up getting water that saturates our stone pathways. I really hate seeing our stonework start to come up just because it is too soaked.

I am not really sure what to do about yard drainage issues though, because it is not like we can just move our house. Our neighbors have the same issue too, though the water usually ends up flooding their gardens. That of course is a huge problem because it drowns their plants.

Post 3

At my house we have to regularly check our drainage pipes because they can get clogged with debris pretty easily. We used to end up with a flooded basement during the spring and it was a pain to clean up, not to mention costly.

Apparently it is a good idea to check your drainage pipes just after the snow melts, as that is when they are most likely to get clogged up with leaves and other bits of trash.

We hire a company to come in and clear out all of our pipes, and to check to make sure that everything is working OK. If you need to hire a company, just check under drainage solutions in a directory in your area.

Post 2

It seems like we have had drainage problems ever since we moved in to our house. If we had done our homework better and knew this before we bought the house, we would not be living here today.

Our house sits on a low spot, and every time we get heavy rains we have standing water in our front yard.

As long as our sump pumps keep up, we are able to keep the water out of the basement. The only way we are going to be able to fix the problem is eventually have new drainage tile installed.

This will solve the problem and give us more peace of mind, but will also be a major expense.

Post 1

Thinking about my home drainage system is something I don't spend a lot of time on - until it doesn't work like it is supposed to.

The only time we have drainage problems is if we have a lot of rain at one time along with high winds.

It seems like every time we get strong winds, some of our downspouts and gutters get blown off the house.

This happened at one spot on our house followed by several inches of rain in a short period of time. Because of this, the water was not diverted away from the house, and we had water seeping in our basement directly underneath this spot.

As long as the gutters and downspouts do their job we don't have an problems with drainage. Since then we make sure that everything is secured as tight as it can be.

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