Footing Drains

Do you want a good basement or crawl space moisture control system?

You will have to do some good planing and then you will want to install a good footing drain.

Sounds complicated and expensive?

Not really, and most certainly less complicated than fixing the problem after the home is built!


  • Most basements and crawl space leaks are the result inadequate storm-water control measures. And in most cases, such leaks are the result of inadequate planing and preparation during the initial construction of the home.

    With very few exceptions, basements and crawl space foundations are not designed to be waterproof, they are not designed to have an impermeable shell. Building foundations with an impermeable shell is both unnecessary and prohibitively expensive.

    The best way to keep water from leaking into basements and crawl spaces is by controlling ground and surface water and preventing the accumulation of this water at the perimeter of the structure. When surface and ground water is allowed to accumulate at the perimeter of a foundation at least some of that water will find entry points into the structure.

  • The best time to control water accumulations at the foundation of a house is during the initial construction process. This work must include:

    • Analysis of Ground Water and Flood Conditions: There is very little that can be done at a building site in flood areas and/or high water tables. The two basic options in such locations are:

      • Don't build on that site (my recommendation!)
      • Build a very high foundation where the actual structure is above any potential flood level.
      • Buy a lot of very good and expensive flood insurance.

    • Site Analysis: the size and topography of a lot will help determine how surface and ground water can be channeled and diverted away from the foundation of a structure. Some important considerations include:

      • The slope of the land and ways to maximize water flow away from the building(s).
      • Natural and man-made drainage - can collected water be diverted into a natural or man-made drainage system.
      • Soil conditions - will the soil on the land absorb water?

    • Foundations Design The basic idea here is to build a foundation with a built-in drainage system and a design that promotes water flow away from the basement or crawl space. The key elements in such a design are:
      • Footing Drains

    • Exterior waterproofing of the foundation walls and/or surfacing the exterior of the foundation walls with a drain down system that promoted water flow along the outside of the foundation wall and into the footing drain.
    • An independent downspout drain system that diverts all roof drainage away from the foundation.
    • Grading the maximizes surface water flow away from the foundation.

    The cost of good planing and a good foundation drainage system is relatively small especially when compared to the cost of corrective steps. My enthusiasm for the Form-A-Drain system is due in part to its ability to produce interior and exterior footing drains as an integral part of the footing construction.

  • Footing drains collect any water accumulations at the base of the foundation and divert that water away from the structure and into a natural or man-made drainage system. The footing drain system is usually composed of a set of pipes, gravel and filter fabric that collects the water from the perimeter of the foundation. The collected water is then directed toward an on-site or off-site storm water system.

    When properly installed, footing drains eliminate hydrostatic pressure at the foundation and thus prevent any water at the exterior of the foundation from finding its way into the basement or crawl space. Such drains can also be used to vent Radon gas.

    The quality of any footing drain system will depend upon the design of the system, the quality of the material used and the installation practices. Since this is one of those system that is very difficult to repair or correct after installation, some extra effort during the installation is very important.

    • The very best time to solve basement and crawl space moisture problems is during the original construction of the home and good footing drains must be one part of this moisture control system.
    • In existing structures, the best places to deal with basement and moisture problems is at the exterior of the home.
    • Don't believe in magic! Unless you plan for basement and crawl space moisture control you are likely to end up with some wet spaces.
    • And what about Radon control? First find out if Radon gas is a problem in your area. If Radon is an issues in your area, be sure to work with an expert in designing the mitigation system.