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How Can The Proper Basement Drain System Prevent Water Damage?

Sam Smith Foundation Repair Consultant

The goal of drainage systems is to remove water that seeps into your basement

If you’re in search of accurate costs related to basement drain systems, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s what you’ll learn by the end of this article:

  • The types of drainage systems available for your basement
  • What each drain system is best for
  • How to stop basement water seepage
  • How to save money when installing a basement drain system

The majority of homeowners with a basement or crawl space under their house will face water intrusion at some point. Your foundation walls and slab work to keep your basement dry but are never truly waterproof.

Many people turn to drains as basement waterproofing systems for added protection from surface water, groundwater, and hydrostatic pressure from saturated soil. There are many different types of drainage systems available that excel in different situations.

In this article, we will go over the basement drain systems and the issues they are designed to fix. We’ll also detail how to fix leaky basements and how to save on the cost of installing a drainage system.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Basement Drain Systems?

There are four main kinds of drains for your basement. We will describe each below and review the upsides and downsides of each.

Exterior Drain Systems

Exterior drain system

There are two different kinds of exterior drainage systems that you can install outside your home. French drain systems or tile drains are composed of perforated pipe set a foot or two below the ground to divert runoff and rainwater away from your foundation.

Footing drains are placed much lower and are good for moving groundwater away from your home.

However, they can experience clogging from plant growth or soil.

These are usually made of relatively inexpensive HDPE or PVC pipe.


  • Shallow drains can be cheap DIY solutions
  • Very good at reducing hydrostatic pressure
  • Drain pipes remove water before it reaches your concrete


  • Require expensive excavation
  • Can be crushed
  • Difficult to service clogs

Interior Drain Tiles

Baseboard drain system

Interior drain tile systems – sometimes called baseboard drains – can be installed on the interior perimeter of the basement instead.

They are set in trenches dug out from your concrete slab and move water that comes into a sump pump system for removal.


  • Can remove a lot of water quickly
  • Easy to service


  • Requires an expensive and intrusive install
  • Doesn’t treat the root cause of the water intrusion
  • Reduces usable footprint in a finished basement

Floor Drains

Floor drain in basement

Basement floor drains are interior drainage systems that get installed inside the concrete slab. They are the easiest and cheapest to install during construction.

They move water from the inside of your basement to a sump pump for extraction.


  • Can help reduce water damage from leaking pipes and water intrusion
  • Can remove a lot of water quickly


  • Expensive to install after the slab is poured
  • Doesn’t treat the root cause of the water intrusion

Sump Pumps

sump pump

Sump pumps are used in combination with other interior drains but can be standalone systems too. There are two different kinds of pumps, and both are very good at preventing standing water.


  • Can remove a lot of water rapidly
  • Relatively inexpensive to install


  • Doesn’t treat the root cause of the water intrusion
  • Can be useless during power outages

Submersible Sump Pumps

Sump pump is a water pump that gets installed in the floor or ground under your home

Submersible sump pumps sit inside a large ditch in your concrete slab.

They detect water using a float and turn on automatically when the water level in the ditch rises. The motor is silent because it functions entirely underwater.


  • Removes a lot of water very quickly
  • Quiet operation


  • Doesn’t treat the root cause of water intrusion
  • Detracts from the visual appeal of your basement

Pedestal Sump Pumps

Pedestal sump pumps need a smaller ditch to be excavated in your concrete slab because the motor and pump sit up on a pedestal above the ground.

They are louder when operating but are less expensive to install.


  • Less expensive than submersible sump pumps
  • Requires smaller ditch to be excavated in your slab


  • Remove water more slowly than submersible pumps
  • Doesn’t treat the root cause of water intrusion
  • Louder than submersibles during operation

How To Stop Water Intrusion In Your Basement

The goal of drainage systems is to remove water that seeps into your basement or remove it from the soil outside before it gets in.

The best thing you can do to protect your basement is to stop the water intrusion at the source. We will offer some tips below that can permanently solve your wet basement problems.

Remove Plants Near Your Foundation

One of the most common reasons for basement water problems is poor yard drainage. Water has a higher chance of soaking into your basement if the soil around your foundation is saturated with water.

Flowers, bushes, and shrubs planted near your basement walls hold excess water in their root system that can increase the chance of water intrusion.

Remove or relocate plants within a foot or two of your concrete block walls to help stop water leaks.

Grade Your Soil

Rainwater and runoff follow the slope of your land to some extent. We always recommend that homeowners grade the ground around their exterior walls to help water flow away from the concrete. This is a simple DIY fix that can make a big difference in your water issues.

Install Gutters and Extensions

Gutter installation

Another way to keep water out of the soil surrounding your foundation is to install gutters, downpipes, and gutter extensions. These will move runoff from your roof to soil that won’t damage your foundation if it becomes saturated.

How To Save Money On Basement Drainage Systems?

My number one recommendation for saving money on drain systems is to fix the root cause of your water leaks. Take measures like installing a gutter system and grading your property before paying for basement waterproofing.

You may not need an expensive drain system at all if you have good natural drainage, especially if it’s combined with simple fixes like a dehumidifier, exterior vapor barrier, or other basement waterproofing products.

You can also save a lot of money by choosing a drain that will solve your problem. A $20,000 footing drain may be great for groundwater problems but won’t do much for surface water.

Choosing the system that fits your property can save you thousands of dollars and still provide a water-free basement.

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Sam Smith Foundation Repair Consultant
SHORT BIO: Hey, I'm Sam Smith. I'm one of our service techs here at Regional Foundation Repair. I'm here to help you learn more about your home's foundation. I've been doing this for a while, so I have a few insider tips and tricks to share!

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