Photo Credit: Canva

Looking for accurate cost information related to basement drainage systems?

Perfect, you’re in the right spot. In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • The different kinds of basement drains
  • What issue each system is used to solve
  • How to prevent a leaky basement
  • How to save money on basement drain systems

Your basement walls go above and beyond to keep water out of your home, and they’re often under constant hydrostatic pressure from moisture in the soil outside. They need to hold back even more water during and after heavy rains or floods and during raised water tables.

The likelihood is that your basement will be subject to leaking at some point, so it’s critical that you prepare adequately and install a basement drain system to deal with the excess water. There are a variety of drainage options for keeping your basement dry, each with a dedicated purpose and ability to solve a different underlying water problem.

Below, I’m going to discuss the different kinds of drainage systems for your basement or crawl space, the pros and cons of each, and some steps you can take to protect your basement from leaking and associated water damage, all while on a budget.

What Are The Different Types Of Drainage Systems?

There are several different kinds of drainage systems for basements that involve different placement and installation processes. I’m going to go over each of them below and discuss the pros and cons of each of these basement waterproofing systems depending on where your home is situated and how it is built.

Exterior Drain Tiles

An exterior drain tile system - also called a French drain or weeping tile - is a drain pipe that is installed outside your home in the soil around your foundation’s perimeter. These exterior drainage systems can be installed at a shallow depth to help divert rainwater and runoff or at the base of your footings to help remove excess groundwater. They often only consist of perforated pipe covered by gravel, so they make for good DIY solutions.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Inexpensive if installed at a shallow depth or during foundation installation

Pro: Effective at removing excess water from the soil

Con: Requires expensive excavation if installed after construction

Con: Soil or plant growth can cause clogging

Con: Shallow drain tiles are visible from the surface

Interior French Drains

An interior French drain system is installed on your home’s interior in trenches that are created around the interior perimeter of the basement. They are exceptionally effective at removing heavy water seepage, especially when coupled with a sump pump system. For monolithic foundations, above-grade drains - called baseboard drains - can be installed. These are generally less effective.

Pros and Cons 

Pro: Very proficient at removing water from the interior

Pro: Doesn’t clog easily

Con: Reactive measure that doesn’t solve the underlying problem

Con: Reduces livable space in finished basements

Con: Expensive to install

Floor Drains

Floor drains usually include grates installed in your basement floor that collect water from above and re-route it to a sump pump via drainage pipes in your concrete slab. The floor will need to slope toward these drains, but this means they can remove water from any source in your basement, including water heater leaks or dehumidifiers.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Can remove water from any source

Pro: Very effective at removing even large amounts of water

Con: Costly to install retroactively

Con: Reactive measure that won’t treat the underlying issue

Sump Pumps

Sump pumps are interior basement drainage systems designed with floating pieces that will trigger a motorized pump to turn on when water is detected. The pump relocates water from your basement to a safe area outside your home. These are often used in conjunction with other drainage systems. There are two main types of sump pumps I’ll discuss below.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Very effective at removing large amounts of water

Pro: Proficient at correcting groundwater issues

Con: Reactive measure that often doesn’t correct any underlying issues

Con: Require electricity to run

Submersible Sump Pumps

Submersible sump pumps sit inside a large ditch in your basement floor. A float monitors the water level and triggers an underwater motor to begin pumping water out as needed. Because the motor is submerged, it likely won’t be audible from other levels of your home.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Very efficient at removing large amounts of water

Pro: Quieter operation than a pedestal pump

Con: Usually a reactive measure that doesn’t treat the underlying problem

Con: Requires expensive excavation of your foundation

Con: Not ideal for finished basements

Photo Credit: Canva

Pedestal Sump Pumps

A pedestal sump pump still requires a ditch to be dug in your foundation floor. However, because it holds the motor above the ditch, it requires far less excavation and a small area for the hole. They’re less efficient than submersible options and create far more noise, given that the motor isn’t underwater.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Requires little excavation of foundation floor

Pro: Cheap installation

Con: Less efficient than submersible options

Con: Louder than other sump pumps

Con: Not ideal for finished basements

Con: Usually a reactive measure that doesn’t treat the source of the issue

How To Prevent Water From Entering Your Basement

Drainage systems are often excellent solutions for wet basements, but many are reactive solutions. Below, I’ll discuss some proactive fixes that can help treat the actual cause of water intrusion and prevent water from getting in through your foundation.

Remove Foundation Plantings

Many homeowners plant small gardens around the base of their home for aesthetic purposes. However, plant roots cause the soil to hold more water than it would normally, which can increase your basement water problems. Remove plants from around your foundation wall to reduce the amount of moisture that will be held against your exterior walls.

Grade Your Yard

Your lawn should be graded away from your foundation at a rate of ½” per foot for at least 10 feet. Doing so will naturally move water away from your home, reducing the chance of it ever coming in contact with your foundation.

Install or Extend Gutter Drainage

One of the most effective ways to reduce the chance of water intrusion during or following rainfall is to install gutters, downspouts, and gutter extensions. These systems route water and runoff away from your house to an area of your yard that won’t create added pressure on your concrete block walls.

Photo Credit: Canva

How To Save Money On Basement Drain Systems?

Installing basement drain systems can be an expensive endeavor, so many homeowners look for ways to save money on the installation. Below are some money-saving tips for keeping your basement protected from water intrusion.

The best way to save money on basement drain systems is to remove the need for them altogether. Depending on your area, you may not need basement waterproofing products if your soil is graded adequately and you have gutters and downspouts installed correctly. Both solutions could be permanent, and they can be very cheap DIY projects to help save on labor costs of installing drainage systems.

Check out the video below for more information on installing gutters:

Additionally, you can save money by getting the proper drainage system installed for your particular situation. For example, if you don’t have heavy basement flooding avoiding an interior French drain and opting instead for an exterior drain tile may provide adequate drainage and save you quite a bit on excavation.

Lastly, installing the drainage system that suits your area and soil during construction will save a tremendous amount of money on labor costs. Implementing an exterior drain while your foundation is being poured is very cheap, while retroactively installing one will require expensive excavation and much more cost in labor.