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#911951 - 04/20/17 07:24 PM Exterior French Drain Troubles
sunnyj Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 10/15/03
Posts: 239
Loc: Sacramento, CA
Greetings!

I have never repaired a French Drain, so I am hoping for some help with how to fix this problem. Also cross posted to Gardening.

House was built in 1988, I bought in 1992. Previous owner had installed an exterior (the entire run is through the yard) French Drain to keep (rain) water off the patio and out of the house. One story house, slab, no basement. Never a moment's problem with it until a heavy downpour about 2 weeks ago. Water on the patio and threatening to enter the house. Son and I dug some fast trenches, so house and patio are fine.

This is the very first time there has ever been a problem with the French Drain (FD). About 6-8 months ago, I had a toilet that would flush only very, very, very slowly. When the plumber came out and removed the toilet, the pipe was jam packed with very fine roots. He cleared that drain, okay there.

I have not dug up the FD yet. My budget wants it to be a DIY job, so I have some questions -

This FD uses that black flexible pipe. I don't know yet if it was laid in a gravel bed or not. Since it has been completely trouble free for 20-23 years, I think I just want to get it working again and keep the cost down.

What might be a reasonable lifespan for FD pipe?

If FD is clogged with roots, can it be cleared without digging it all up? If so, how?

Thanks!

Linda

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#911954 - 04/20/17 09:15 PM Re: Exterior French Drain Troubles [Re: sunnyj]
BillJeffy Offline
Don't Know Squat
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/02/06
Posts: 13141
Loc: New England
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Do you know / can you see the exit of the FD ?

If that's the case, a root cutter (if it's roots) can be run
in there to clear the roots.

Not really recommended as a DIY, due to the muscle work,
and there are special cutters for plastic pipe.....

Call around and ask, and whether it's roots or some other blockage
having it cleared out is a far better alternative than digging.

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_________________________
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Just Common Sense......
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err....I'm not a Doctor, but I'll take a LOOK ! !

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#911969 - 04/21/17 03:06 AM Re: Exterior French Drain Troubles [Re: BillJeffy]
sunnyj Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 10/15/03
Posts: 239
Loc: Sacramento, CA
Hi Bill,

Thanks for the reply.

I do know where the outlet is. The FD runs across the back of the house and patio, makes a fairly gentle curve around the side of the house and ends up in the front yard, close to a redwood tree.

Who should I call - plumber, landscaper, other?

Thanks,

Linda

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#911971 - 04/21/17 05:51 AM Re: Exterior French Drain Troubles [Re: sunnyj]
notnew2diy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 4106
Loc: harvard, il.
"Also cross posted to Gardening."....
The gardening thread has been locked by mods, so I'll ask here.

Is it possible to dig a shallow gully, to direct the heavier water before it gets to the FD? Lot size will be the determining factor on where and how. Doesn't need to be deep, but does need to be pitched correctly for proper flow.

HTH...good luck...notnew....
_________________________
Thanks to all US military veterans.

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#911997 - 04/21/17 03:36 PM Re: Exterior French Drain Troubles [Re: notnew2diy]
sunnyj Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 10/15/03
Posts: 239
Loc: Sacramento, CA
Hi Notnew,

Good suggestion, thanks! That's basically what we did - but on an 'emergency' basis when the FD failed. The land has a gentle slope all across the back fence down to the patio and house. I have left the trenches in place just in case we get some more rain before the FD can be fixed.

Linda

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#912016 - 04/21/17 07:32 PM Re: Exterior French Drain Troubles [Re: sunnyj]
Punky Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/01/05
Posts: 5904
Loc: East Aurora, NY
call a plumber with a jetting machine. It'll likely run into the hundreds of dollars to clear. Otherwise, dig up and replace the pipe. It cant be mechanically snaked without damage to the pipe
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Opinions should be verified with your local town Board/Inspector/Review Panels

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#912019 - 04/21/17 09:55 PM Re: Exterior French Drain Troubles [Re: Punky]
Clint_Robbins Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/19/01
Posts: 11153
Loc: Akron, OH
Quote:
call a plumber with a jetting machine. It'll likely run into the hundreds of dollars to clear. Otherwise, dig up and replace the pipe. It cant be mechanically snaked without damage to the pipe.

If you replace it, don't use the black flexible pipe if you want a long term solution. Use rigid pipe with glued joints.

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#912023 - 04/22/17 12:28 AM Re: Exterior French Drain Troubles [Re: sunnyj]
BillJeffy Offline
Don't Know Squat
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/02/06
Posts: 13141
Loc: New England
.
.
I disagree on the damage that 'might' be caused.

Try a local Roto-rooter if there's one available.....

Otherwise, a plumber, and ask if he/they can snake flex FD.

.
_________________________
.
.
Just Common Sense......
.
.
err....I'm not a Doctor, but I'll take a LOOK ! !

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#912046 - 04/22/17 11:08 AM Re: Exterior French Drain Troubles [Re: sunnyj]
Punky Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/01/05
Posts: 5904
Loc: East Aurora, NY
Ive done it. I do this for a living. It WILL tear it up. If there's roots blocking it, a root cutter needs to be used, and it slices the plastic easily.
_________________________
Opinions should be verified with your local town Board/Inspector/Review Panels

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#912051 - 04/22/17 12:17 PM Re: Exterior French Drain Troubles [Re: sunnyj]
sunnyj Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 10/15/03
Posts: 239
Loc: Sacramento, CA
So, the next thing for me then, needs to be digging up part of the FD to be sure what the pipe run is. At the outlet, it is flexible. The FD is at least 24 years old, so maybe it is mixed? What is the usual 'life span' for the flexible/hard?

I know (pretty much) where the run is, but is it okay to use a coat hanger wire to poke around for it? I don't want to cause problems.


Thanks,

Linda

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