French Drain Vs. Curtain Drain

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French drains and curtain drains basically drain water away from an area.

Fewer things are more aggravating for a homeowner than to have to put up with a wet or soggy basement or yard. In cases where a house is sitting on land that suffers from poor groundwater drainage, water will often pool up in the basement or yard. Fortunately, homeowners having to deal with poor groundwater drainage under and around their homes have an effective solution available. French drains and curtain drains can prevent water from collecting and then ruining a yard or basement.

French Drains

A French drain is used to remove groundwater that's collecting near a home or in its basement. In addition, building and properly locating a French drain near a home will prevent groundwater from collecting again in the future. A trench that slopes slightly downward, a French drain is filled with rounded gravel and a perforated pipe in many cases. French drains are excellent drainage solutions for homes that sit on slopes and suffer from soggy yards or wet basements.

Curtain Drains

Homes located in areas where surface water is constantly collecting and won't run off on its own can benefit from a curtain drain. Curtain drains are actually nothing more than French drains that are dug to 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. Typically, a curtain drain is dug horizontally and is placed uphill from the area to be dried out.

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. Unfortunately, Deep French drains aren't cheap. A price of about $12,000 to dig a Deep French drain about 6 feet deep and completely around a 1,500-square-foot basement wasn't uncommon as of July 2011.


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 pipe from the drain to a collection basin, where it's then pumped into a storm drain system. As of July 2011, having a standard French or curtain drain installed cost about $10 to $16 per linear foot.

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Tony Guerra

Tony Guerra served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He also spent seven years as an airline operations manager. Guerra is a former realtor, real-estate salesperson, associate broker and real-estate education instructor. He holds a master's degree in management and a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies.