French Drain Problems | Tell-Tale Signs It’s Time to Get Yours Replaced


The best time to get your French drain replaced is when the snow begins to melt. It’s therefore important to know just how to detect French drain problems. Taking care of them as soon as signs are showing is sure to avoid you many costly issues that can arise. 

french drain under rocks

What are the symptoms of a French drain problem?

There are plenty of signs to look out for when you decide to check your French drain for issues. If any of the following problems arise, it’s best to get your French drain inspected immediately to prevent further damage. Of course, the symptoms’ severity must be assessed before undertaking major renovations, and the building’s age has to be taken into consideration. Here are some symptoms you should look out for:

  • Cracks on the walls
  • A significant increase in humidity levels in the basement
  • Water infiltration in the basement
  • Mold on the floor or walls
  • Windows and doors that get stuck
  • The appearance of whitish crystals
  • A slumped or curved floor
  • Etc

The 3 most common signs your French drain needs to be repaired or replaced

Cracks in the foundation

If you see a crack in the foundation of your home, it is highly likely that it’s because of a French drain problem. The severity of the issue depends on the width of the crack. If it’s about 1cm, you can simply call a professional who will fill in this crack by using an epoxy injection. The cost of getting a small-sized crack fixed is between $250 and $1000 depending on its location. If the crack is rather large, you’re likely to need to replace your foundation.

The cost to fix a French drain problem is much more expensive. It can range from anywhere between $15,500 to $50,000 because it involves more extensive work and might a structural engineer‘s include labour hours. Not doing anything if a French drain problem arises will affect your building’s structural integrity. So, be sure to call a French drain expert.

Noticing a whitish crust on your walls

It is often difficult to recognize the signs of a faulty drainage system, but the consequences can be so significant that it’s better to act quickly. If you notice a whitish powder or crust appear on your concrete basement walls, or mold on your gypsum walls, it may mean that water has infiltrated into your home.

The white crust forms because of the combination of minerals present in the concrete and its PH levels. You should get in touch with a qualified contractor as soon as you notice this kind of formation.

moist in basement

Water infiltration

Water infiltrating a building can have extreme consequences, so acting quickly is essential. In fact, if water infiltrates your basement after heavy rains or when snow melts, there’s a good chance that your French drain is clogged or blocked. In some rare cases, it can be fixed by using a high-pressure washer to remove the blockage. However, it’s much more common to have to repair or change it completely. The faster you act, the more likely you are to reduce the costs and problems.

Common French drain problems

While these are telltale signs there is something wrong with your French drain, it’s important to know what kind of issues can occur with your French drain. Below are three common issues your French drain can experience:


Sediment is likely to find its way into your French drain over time, and this can lead to a clog. It is a very normal occurrence, because the nature of a French drain allows for the slow draining of water through the soil. The filter fabric installed over the gravel should help prevent the accumulation of sediment, however, if it was poorly installed or is of poor quality, you may have clogging issues much faster than expected.

Additionally, if you live in an area with very sandy soil rich in iron, your French drain and foundation are at risk of forming iron ochre. This type of mud will not only clog your French drain, but put your foundation at risk for water infiltration. This happens often when the foundation is exposed to very wet soil, like in the case of waterfront properties.


Malfunctioning sump pump

If you have an interior French drain, a sump pump will be necessary to help prevent flooding. Lower-end models will be likely to need replacing sooner than their more expensive counterparts. In the case of a power outage, if a backup battery hasn’t been installed, the sump pump will stop working, and if the power outage was caused by an intense rainstorm, you are at risk for flooding. While this may not directly be an issue with the French drain, it will essentially defeat the purpose of it, which is to keep water away from your foundation.

Changing slope

As a house ages, it may settle, and this is especially true for homes that are near the water, or in damp climates. Settling may cause the slope away your foundation formed by your French drain to shift. This causes the French drain to be less efficient, and may lead to more clogging or flooding than normal. It’s important to keep this in mind, especially with newer homes, as they are more likely to settle than a home that has likely already done so over the course of several years or decades. Your French drain contractor will be able to suggest the right materials based on your climate and the age of your home, to keep the life of your French drain as long as possible.

Need a French drain contractor?

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