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Efficient and effective drainage around your property’s perimeter is essential for protection against groundwater floods. Without a properly maintained perimeter drainage system, water can easily start to seep into your basement through cracks in your foundation. Water can also start leaking around the perimeter of your roof and through your ceiling if it is not also drained properly. These leaks and cracks will only get worse as time goes on, which is why it is important to upgrade and maintain your perimeter drainage as soon as you notice water getting indoors. To help you familiarize yourself with the different types of perimeter drainage systems and their importance, Cerc Drainage has prepared a brief guide with helpful information listed below.

What is Perimeter Drainage?

well structure perimeter drainage system

Perimeter drainage is the system which exists on the exterior your home to bring water flow, rainwater runoff, and wastewater out and away from the foundation. Foundation drainage solutions include replacing tiles, adding newer plumbing, or sometimes elevating pipes so that there is no backflow. Something as simple as a sewer snake is sometimes all that you need. The first step when you have a situation where you need to get French drain repair or another type of work done is to do an inspection with a drain camera. This helps to identify the exact location of the problem.

When Perimeter Drainage Is Necessary?

Perimeter drainage repair is necessary any time that the system for draining excess water away from a house or building foundation has been damaged. Sometimes you may not realise that you need to have repairs done to your underground pipe or basement drains until some expensive signs appear. Or you may think that you need expensive perimeter drainage repair work or extensive drainpipe replacement. While this could be costly, there are many steps which can be taken before your entire perimeter drainage system needs to be replaced.

There are many styles of perimeter drainage designed to keep water from wreaking havoc on our properties. What they all have in common is that they are meant to divert water away from where it can accumulate and cause the most damage.

  • A home or building foundation
  • The roof perimeter
  • Certain areas of your garden prone to standing water buildup


build up a home foundation perimeter drainage systemdrainage system for you home gardenClose look up at roof perimeter drainage system for the roof

A properly functioning perimeter drainage system will continue working and keeping your property safe from leaks and floods without you ever having to be aware of its presence. After heavy rain and melting snow, water accumulates around the perimeter of the house, causing rising damp or even flooding basements. Insurance companies do not cover this damage, as they view it as caused by negligence and lack of upkeep. Ideally, the water should be directed away from your external walls, thus merely waterproofing the wall is not a viable option. In wet, rainy areas like Vancouver, or if you have a high water table, the most cost-effective solution is weeping tile. The water should be directed to the main sewer and not to the boundary of the property. This is illegal and could result in a really unhappy neighbour and even a lawsuit.

To drain water away from the foundations and basement of your house, a trench is dug around the perimeter of the building and a perforated pipe, generally made of PVC or ABS plastic, is installed. This acts as a perimeter drainage system and attracts accumulated rainwater, or rising groundwater, drawing it away from the building. In the past, clay tiles were laid as a water diversion, thus the old-fashioned name “weeping tile” is still used. These may have deteriorated with time and should be replaced with the PVC pipe version, or maybe just replace the sections that are damaged.

Common Drainage System Blockages & Issues

Drainage System Blockage that could be fixed with a proper perimeter drainage work

Perimeter drainage systems do work, as long as they’re maintained. The perforations in the PVC pipe are thousands of small slits that attract water into the pipe and thus drain the water away. Often the pipe is enclosed in a permeable mesh, then a layer of gravel or small stones covers it to prevent mud and soil entering the pipe. Finally, the trench is backfilled with soil. The pipes drain away from the house to the sewer system, which preferably would have been pre-checked using a sewer inspection camera.

Generally, the system will last for years. The old tile systems lasted FOR years too, but in time become blocked with roots and soil, causing damage and collapse. However, a new PVC weeping tile system may become blocked by soil after a while, enabling water to seep into the basement. You could dig up the whole drainage system and attempt to find the blockage, or it’s time for a perimeter drainage inspection.

What Are The Different Types of Perimeter Drainage Systems?

Given enough time, water will find a way to get exactly where you don’t want it to be. That is why many perimeter drainage systems are meant to drain water safely away from where it causes harm. Whether that happens to be around your roof, your foundation or in your yard, there is a perimeter drainage system that can keep things dry. 

Footing Drain

This type of drainage system is one that will be familiar to most homeowners. It is highly effective when it comes to keeping foundations dry and safe from water damage and basement flooding. In the past, materials like brittle clay pipe and inadequate plastic tubing have been used for this system. These days, however, thanks to the use of superior PVC pipe, footing drainage systems last much longer and are far more effective than ever before. This type of perimeter drainage is also referred to as weeping, or drain tile system.

French Drain

Keeping your yard safe from flooding and standing water can easily be accomplished with a French drain system. This type of perimeter drainage is ideal for yards with mostly flat surfaces, where water accumulates in standing pools rather than naturally draining away. Like a footing drain system, the French drain uses a pipe to divert and carry water where it can safely drain. 

Gutter Drain

the gutter drain by the roof is covered full with the leafs

Without a proper perimeter drainage system installed and maintained gutter system, you will likely run into issues like roof leaks which lead to the ceiling and possible structural damage in your home. With proper drainage from the perimeter of your roof and away from your walls, a gutter and downspout drain will go a long way towards keeping the roof over your head dry and intact.

How Does a Perimeter Drainage System Work?

For the most part, perimeter drainage relies on collecting water and safely draining it in a direction that leads away from inside a property or other areas where water can accumulate. Systems like the French Drain or Footing Drain/weeping tile system use a combination of materials to capture and divert water. A graded trench is dug and perforated PVC pipes are laid towards the low point of the perimeter or away from the property. For a footing drain around a foundation, the trench is dug deeper and lined with watertight material to keep the foundation completely dry. The trench is then filled with gravel designed to filter debris before the water enters the drainpipe at the bottom of the trench. With the grade sloped away from the house or the yard, the water is easily drained through the PVC pipe, preventing flooding or damage caused by water. For a gutter drain, the roof must have watertight flashing and gutters installed to divert and carry the water to the downspout where it can be carried away from the property.

In Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, we all know how important drainage is. The West Coast is the wettest place in the country, and it it’s extremely important that a home’s drains are functioning properly all year long.

This includes the perimeter drain around your home. Never heard of it? No problem. Let’s spend a few minutes talking about this important drainage system and how it works.

Why is a functional perimeter drainage system crucial?

You know how basements often have a bit of a damp feel to them? Especially unfinished ones or basements with concrete walls and floors? That’s because the water underground is slowly on the move, drip by drip, and water eventually seeps into everything. The perimeter drain will help prevent water from pooling around or in your home, causing countless problems in the long run (like black mould).

How do you maintain a Vancouver perimeter drainage system

Over time, perimeter drains will need some attention because they will become blocked with debris, dirt and roots. Older homes may not have PVC pipes but rather a clay or concrete system might need more attention because these older systems can break or collapse.

As with all elements of homeownership, it is best to be proactive and ensure that you are keeping up with inspections and maintenance.

For perimeter drain maintenance, pay close attention after the West Coast winter or if there is heavy rainfall in the summer. If you see water stains on your basement walls or mystery puddles forming around your home’s foundation, take steps to address it. If you have never had an inspection done on your home’s perimeter drain, it’s a good idea to get one.

If you suspect that there may be a problem with your perimeter drain, it’s important to fix it. Leaving it will make the problems much worse, and quickly.

Should you panic? No! Perimeter drains, even older ones, are designed to withstand many decades of functioning. But the more you know about it, the better.

If you have never had an inspection done on this system, or if you don’t know anything about it, it’s a good idea to call in a professional. They will perform a inspection by sending a camera through the drain system and report back if any maintenance is needed.

A clogged or even collapsing system does not necessarily mean a total overhaul. Your system may need to be flushed or a small drain pipe section replaced.

If you have any questions about the drainage system in your home, give us a call!

Maintaining a Perimeter Drainage System

While a properly installed perimeter drainage system will last for several years, it is still important to keep them well maintained. Things like ground shifting and root growth can cause damage to underground drain pipes, potentially compromising the entire drainage system with a clog or a broken pipe. To keep your perimeter drainage working properly at all times, we recommend performing a maintenance check on your system every 18-24 months.

At Cerc Drainage, we offer excellent maintenance packages for all drainage systems, and we will be sure to provide you with comprehensive updates on your system. Should the need for repairs ever arise, you can count on our team of drainage experts to provide you with prompt, top quality service.

For more information, or to schedule an estimate for perimeter drainage installation or repairs, be sure to contact Cerc Drainage today!