French Drain vs. Curtain Drain

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Fewer things are more aggravating for a homeowner than a wet, soggy basement or yard. If your property suffers from poor groundwater drainage, water will often pool up in the basement or yard. Fortunately, there's an effective drainage system solution available if you're dealing with poor groundwater drainage under or around your home. French drains and curtain drains can prevent water from collecting and ruining your yard or basement.

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Basics of French Drains

A French drain removes groundwater that's collecting near a home or in its basement. Building and properly locating a French drain near your home can also prevent groundwater from collecting again in the future. Built in a trench that slopes slightly downward, a French drain is filled with rounded gravel and a perforated pipe, or you can get prefabricated French drain systems that don't use gravel. French drains are excellent drainage solutions for homes that sit on slopes and suffer from soggy yards or wet basements.

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Basics of Curtain Drains

The main difference between a French drain system and a curtain drain is the type of water it aims to move. French drains deal with groundwater — although they help with surface water, too — while curtain drains help more with the surface water that can collect around your home. They work well if your home always seems to have surface water issues, especially if the surface water has no way to remove itself from your yard.

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Curtain drains are essentially the same thing as French drains, but they're installed at a shallow depth. A curtain drain is excellent for diverting water around a house and is usually about 2 feet deep and 1.5 feet wide. The gently sloping trench is filled with gravel — and sometimes a perforated pipe — much like a French drain. Curtain drains typically go in front of the house and either go away from or around the house to keep water from entering the house.

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Basics of Deep French Drains

Deep French drains are often needed when a home is sitting on flat land and water is persistently building up in its basement. Deep French drains are also called footing drains, and they run around the perimeter of a house at the same level as its foundation footings.

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Unfortunately, deep French drains aren't cheap. You can expect to pay between $2,000 and $10,000 to have a deep French drain installed. A surface-level French drain typically costs $500 to $2,000 and a curtain drain usually runs between $1,000 and $5,000.

Considerations for Flat Land

All types of French drains depend on gravity to drain water away. If you have a French drain on flat land, you'll probably need to connect a pipe to it to carry away the water it collects. Usually, homeowners using a French drain on flat land will run a pipe from the drain to a collection basin, where it's then pumped into a storm drain system.

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