What Is a French Drain Used For?

When it comes to plumbing, there are a lot of words and features that aren’t common knowledge. At POM Plumbing, we’re making it our mission to educate the masses so that the average Joe knows what he needs and what to ask for. Today, let’s take a look at what the French drain is used for. What is a French drain? Let’s start there.

What Is a French Drain?

A French drain is, simply put, meant to prevent flooding at lower points in the ground. They’re most commonly found at the base of a sloping driveway – in front of the garage – and at the lower end of a sloped yard.

The drain prevents flooding and, instead, redirects water away from the house and yard. If there’s a nearby storm drain, your French drain can redirect water to there. Otherwise, a nearby ditch will do just fine.

When Is It Needed?

If you’re experiencing any kind of flooding or pooling because part or all of your yard or driveway is sloped, you can benefit from a French drain. These are especially valuable to people with a sloped driveway that leads to their garage flooding repeatedly. To prevent this, and prevent long-term damage to the garage and its contents, a drain should be installed in front of the garage door.

If your yard is the victim of flooding, a French drain can be installed at its low point. We can even cover the drain in gravel or garden rocks to make it function like an accessory to your garden. There’s no reason your drain should detract from the overall appearance of your yard.

How Is It Installed?

What is the installation process like? It depends on where it’s being installed.

If your French drain is being installed in your yard, the process is fairly simple. We’ll start by digging a trench the length of the future drain. We’ll also need to dig a trench where any drainage pipe is laid. The drain will be installed in the trench. The drain is shaped kind of like a trough with a grate on top. This grate can be covered with decorative stones or large enough gravel.

Installing a French drain at the base of a driveway is a bit harder. A large enough part of the driveway will have to be broken apart to accommodate the new drain. Once the drain is in place, any remaining gaps can be filled with more asphalt, patched with a filler, or mended any number of ways. A drain placed at the base of a driveway can also be covered in gravel, but is just as well left completely uncovered. The benefit to covering it in gravel is that the drain is less likely to build up sediment that can get caught in the gravel like a filter.

How Can I Get a French Drain in Toronto?

If you’re looking for a French drain to be installed somewhere in Toronto, POM Waterproofing is here to help. Give us a call and we can give you a visit to work up a price estimate. We look forward to hearing from you and improving your yard’s drainage!

How to Fix Basement Wall Crumbling

If your basement wall seems to be crumbling, it’s a sign that you need to take immediate action. Basement wall crumbling may seem minor at first – just some small bits of sediment found at the base of the wall. However, if left unmanaged, you may soon find larger pieces of stone or cement that have fallen away from the wall. What causes this? How do you fix basement wall crumbling? Let’s take a look.

Water Erosion

The short answer is that basement wall crumbling is caused by water erosion. Where is the water coming from? The answer is: probably outside. You may not ever see the water with your eyes, but it’s there. Even in homes without basement moisture problems, water can leak through the wall, eroding the cement or stone, and then evaporate when it reaches the interior. When that happens, it does damage to the wall without you ever seeing it.

Exterior Moisture and Water

Exterior moisture and water do two different things. If you’re noticing basement wall crumbling, but not any leaks, you probably just have damp earth around your basement walls. The moisture in the soil erodes away the cement or stone walls. However, if you’re noticing leaks in the basement, or a layer of damp on your basement walls, you likely have water pooling against the walls. 

Soil that’s more wet than damp means higher likelihood of basement leaks. This water sits against the basement wall, searching for a way in. When it finds one, pretty immediately, it will push its way through, damaging the walls very slowly and then invading your home in the form of a leak.

Exterior Basement Damp Proofing Vs. Exterior Basement Waterproofing

When the soil around your home is damp or wet, you’re presented with two options: exterior basement damp proofing and exterior basement waterproofing. The trick is knowing the difference.

Exterior basement damp proofing is meant to prevent moisture from slowly eroding your basement walls from the outside. Exterior basement waterproofing is a bit more extensive and is meant to handle higher volumes of water. This is great for houses in particularly wet areas or located at the base of a hill.

Avoid Repair from the Inside

Many people may be tempted to repair their stone or brick basement walls from the inside. After all, that’s where the walls are accessible. However, you shouldn’t try to fix basement wall crumbling by patching holes and cracks from the inside. It can actually make the problem worse.

This is because water is coming in from outside. If you patch the walls from the inside, water will still continue to get into the walls. However, with no place to escape, once it’s in the walls, it will stay there and damage them from expanding and contracting. Have you ever left an empty flower pot or bucket out in the rain? If you didn’t empty it and bring it in by winter, the water may have frozen and broken it entirely. When water freezes into ice, it expands. If this happens to the water in your walls, you can imagine how much damage will be done to your walls.

Call POM Waterproofing

If you need to discuss the possibility of future damp proofing or waterproofing for your basement walls, call us. We can talk you through the process and give you a price estimate to help you with budgeting.

Why Do I Have Moldy Basement Windows?

Are your basement windows moldy? You might be wondering why. Moldy basement windows can be caused by a number of sources. It’s our job, as your local waterproofing company, to help you find out what it is and put a stop to it.

Leaky Windows

One of the most common causes of moldy basement windows is the windows leaking. If the windows in your basement are old and seem of dubious quality, they’re probably leaking. To find out if this is the problem plaguing your basement, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the window thoroughly. Remove any mold with chemical cleaners.
  2. Dry the window thoroughly. Make sure all moisture from cleaning is completely wiped away.
  3. Wait for it to rain
  4. Check the windows for moisture. You should check after it’s been raining for a few hours at least. If it’s dark, bring a flashlight and shine it on the window along where it meets the window frame. Also, shine it along where the frame meets the sill. If you don’t see any visible leaks, touch the frame to see if it feels slightly moist with condensation.

If your windows are leaky, you’ve found the cause of your moldy basement windows. The windows will need to be replaced entirely. If the leaking is around where the window is installed against the wall, check for water damage during the installation of new windows.

Window Well Flooding

If your basement windows are located at the bottom of window wells, there’s a good chance they’re moldy from window well flooding. Window wells that don’t have any kind of drain system are just a collection point for water. Whenever it rains, the water will gather at the bottom of the wells and sit against the basement windows. 

While windows should, generally, be waterproof, most aren’t meant to withstand pooled water sitting against them. They will leak, even if they’re decent windows. So, if your window wells are flooding when it rains, invest in window well waterproofing before worrying about the windows themselves. If there’s still a mold issue after window well waterproofing and thorough removal of the previous mold, you may want to revisit item #1.

Interior Condensation

Sometimes the source for mold is actually coming from inside. Interior condensation is incredibly common and leads to moldy basement windows all the time. Different temperatures on either side of a barrier pull water from the air on the warm side. This is why a glass of ice water collects moisture on its surface. The moisture from the warm air touches it and goes from gas form to liquid form.

If you keep your interior nice and warm and the air has any level of humidity in it, cold temperatures outdoors can pull moisture to the cold windows. The condensation then drips down to collect in the window frame or sill, leading to mold issues.

To solve interior condensation issues, you can opt to replace your windows with some that are better insulated, or buy a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier will pull the moisture from the basement’s air and prevent it from settling on the windows.

If these options are too pricy for you, the only solution left is to regularly take a trip down to the basement to dry and clean the windows, frame, and sill.

How Do You Know If You Have an Unstable Foundation?

If you live in an old home, your foundation and basement walls might have become unstable. An unstable foundation sounds concerning, right? So, how do you know if yours is doing alright or not? We’ve compiled a list of symptoms as well as our favorite solution.

Basement Moisture and Leaks

Your foundation and basement walls are two parts of the same thing. If the structure of your house sits on your basement walls, those walls are part of your foundation. Therefore, keeping those walls in shape is vital.

If your basement walls are leaking water or there’s noticeable moisture in parts of your basement, that’s a bad sign. Stone basement walls can only leak if there are cracks leading from the outside to the inside. These cracks may be small enough that you can’t see them, but it doesn’t mean water can’t go through them. If there’s noticeable moisture, there are probably tons of these small cracks.

Letting your basement walls continue to erode as moisture travels through them will lead to more damage.

Wall Crumbling

The next sign is basement wall crumbling. If you notice little pebbles at the base of your basement walls, they’re damaged enough that they’re beginning to crumble. This is bad.

Erosion worsening as water travels through the cracks in your walls is to be expected. However, the walls beginning to crumble means the problem is worse than it looks on the outside. If your walls continue on this path, it could spell bad things for the safety of your entire house.

Above-Ground Symptoms

There are above-ground signs that your foundation isn’t doing so hot as well. For example, if you see cracks in your drywall, it means the foundation has shifted. Even if it has been a slow shift, caused over time, the continued shift could lead to worse damage. 

For example, if left long enough, important parts of the internal structure could split or crack. If the frame of the house splits, the floor could fall through or a wall could buckle. Therefore, if there are cracks appearing in your walls, it’s important to start the process of preventing further damage.

Other symptoms are:

  • Doors sticking
  • Door frames separating from the wall
  • Bowed floors or ceilings
  • Drafty windows

Solutions to Basement Wall Instability

If you’re noticing moisture in your basement, but the other signs of foundational instability haven’t appeared, take preventative measures. Exterior basement waterproofing doesn’t just prevent unwanted moisture, it also prevents continued erosion of your basement walls. That makes exterior basement waterproofing vital in the prevention of an unstable foundation.

Call us at POM Waterproofing if you want to know more about how to get exterior basement waterproofing.

Why You Need Basement Waterproofing Before Winter

While basement waterproofing is a huge hassle for most people, there are some very good reasons to get basement waterproofing before winter. If your home hasn’t had basement waterproofing, each year that passes increases the chances of experiencing basement leaks or flooding. Let’s take a closer look at why that is.

Basement Wall Erosion

Whether your basement is finished or unfinished, if your basement walls are made of stone, brick, or cement, they’re at risk of exterior erosion. Basement wall erosion is caused by ground water and moisture constantly moving against the stone. The same way a river can create a canyon, the water in the ground around your home can wear away at your basement walls.

This erosion is especially bad in areas with high rain and snowfall. As water soaks into the soil around your home, there’s a limit to how much water the soil can hold. When it hits that limit, the water will just sit there. Until enough of the deeper ground water can flow away or rise up and evaporate, the water will rest against your basement walls. 

Basement Leaking

After some time, basement wall erosion will lead to basement leaking. This is especially common with basement walls made of some type of brick. The water from the surrounding soil will find a pathway through the wall. Even if the pathway is narrow and only allows a few drips of water through in a day, they’ll add up. Plus, each drip that successfully makes it into your basement has widened the path for the next drip.

An unfinished basement will end up with moist walls. The moisture will run down the walls, leading to floor dampness. The constant moisture means a great environment for mold growth and an attractive place for pests to stop for a bit of water.

In a finished basement, the other side of the wall is likely to be covered in insulation and drywall. Where does the water go? Simple: it soaks into the insulation, which is cloaked in darkness, and begins to grow mold. The extensive damage mold growth can do when spread behind basement walls is devastating.

Basement Flooding

When basement leaking is left unchecked for a long period of time, you can end up with basement flooding. What seems like a manageable amount of moisture can quickly turn into flooding with a heavy rain and increased ground water. We don’t have to tell you how expensive this can be to repair. 

Get Basement Waterproofing Before Winter

The solution to this is getting basement waterproofing before winter. Winter is one of the worst seasons for basement walls because of the freezing temperature. Water within the basement walls will freeze and expand, damaging the walls further. Then, when the snow begins to melt, your basement is the next destination for all of the snow melt.

When you get exterior basement waterproofing before winter, you prevent additional damage from occurring and keep water from even touching your basement walls. Give us a call if you have questions about the waterproofing process or would like to schedule a consultation.

Why Do Window Wells Need Waterproofing?

If you have window wells for your basement windows, you should consider window well waterproofing. Why do window wells need waterproofing? Let’s take a look.

Window Wells and Basement Leaks

People who have basement windows in window wells are much more likely to experience basement leaks. Because window wells are below ground level, any time it rains, water can collect there. Therefore, the strength of your basement window seals is constantly being tested.

Not only can rain collect in window wells, ground water can as well. This is why window wells need waterproofing. Even if it hasn’t rained in months, if there’s snow on the ground, snow melt can seep into the soil and end up pooling in your window wells.

When your basement windows leak, the moisture can cause mold, attract pests, or even damage your foundation.

Window Wells and Basement Flooding

While basement leaks are bad enough, window wells without waterproofing can cause basement flooding as well. A bit of water coming in along the edges of your basement window is common. However, that’s not where the threat ends. If your window seal eventually gives out entirely, a heavy rain or substantial snow melt can end up flooding your basement. You wouldn’t leave your bedroom window open during a torrential downpour, right? For the same reason, this is why window wells need waterproofing. 

Without a working seal, you could wake up to find your entire basement filled with multiple inches of rainwater. This could cost you thousands of dollars in damages to your flooring, furniture, and more. Plus, that’s not to mention the amount of damage that could be caused by mold growth if not cleaned up perfectly.

Why Do Window Wells Need Waterproofing?

Why do window wells need waterproofing? The answer is simple: basement windows are not made to withstand constant pressure from outdoor water. Window wells are a water collection site and, therefore, need a drain to properly redirect that water away from your home. 

Prevent Damage to Your Home

When you invest in window well waterproofing, you’re investing in the safety and longevity of your home. The process is simple. We dig out the base of your window wells and add a drain. A grate will allow you to cover the drain with gravel. Then, when it rains, water will collect in the drain and be redirected away from the house. This is done by installing a drain pipe that leads about 20-30 feet away from your home. It is also slanted downward. Therefore, when water is redirected, it won’t be able to run back toward the house. It will soak into the ground below the level of your foundation. This also minimizes any potential foundational damage that could be caused by ground water.

If you have questions about the window well waterproofing process, call us at POM Waterproofing. We look forward to clearing up any questions you have. 

How to Prevent Roof Water Runoff from Pooling

If you’re having a tough time with roof water runoff pooling in your yard, POM Waterproofing is here to help. We know how frustrating it can be to have your yard looking like a swamp because of improper runoff management. So, let us help you with these simple solutions to prevent roof water runoff from pooling.

Gutter to French Drain Connection

Even with gutters that work how they’re supposed to, you can end up with roof water runoff pooling. Many gutters are installed so that they offload roof water runoff into a tray beside the house. The problem is, this method of dispersing water into the yard doesn’t end well if there’s a lot of rain in the area.

Instead of letting water pool in your yard, you should rely on a connection between your gutter and a French drain. 

French Drain Installation

To prevent yard flooding from roof water runoff, you’re going to want something called a French drain. These drains are elongated traps for water – like a gutter that’s installed in the ground. These drains are frequently used to prevent yard flooding as well as garage flooding. They can be installed at the bottom of a sloped driveway or yard. Or, in this case, they can cut through a yard that has a low point that tends to flood.

French drains are typically covered in a grate, gravel, or garden rocks. Water will flow past these coverings and collect in the drain. The water is then redirected away from the house, keeping the soil around your home from becoming saturated. If you connect the end of your runoff gutter to your French drain, the drain will take away roof water runoff as well as any excess water in the yard.

Prevent Pooling Without a French Drain

If your yard doesn’t have any pooling issues aside from what comes from the runoff gutter, you may not need a French drain. While French drains have a similar installation process to a redirection drain, they are visible from the surface. So, if you would prefer not to see garden stones or gravel where a French drain is installed, we can install a subterranean redirection drain instead.

A redirection drain, while not an official name, is simply a pipe that will redirect water away from the house. For example, if there is a rain ditch near your home, we can install a pipe that connects the end of your runoff gutter to the rain ditch. Then, any roof water runoff will simply run, underground, to that rain ditch, completely skipping your yard.

Professional Drain Installation in Toronto

If you need a redirection drain or French drain installed to prevent pooling in your yard, call us at POM Waterproofing. We look forward to getting your yard back to working order and looking its best.

What to Do About Basement Wall Cracks

If your basement walls have cracks in them, it’s not unusual for them to be leaking water. However, even small amounts of water leaking in can cause huge issues. After a short while, your damp basement will develop mold, bacteria, and pests. So, what can you do to fix basement wall cracks? The answer may be more complicated than you hoped.

Find the Source

The first thing to do is find the source of the leak. If you’re looking for repair solutions, you probably already know where the water is coming from. If a basement window isn’t doing a great job of keeping out water, window well waterproofing will solve the problem. This process is fairly simple. We install something you could call a tray, which catches any water collecting in the window well. The water is then redirected away from the house.

However, if your basement leak is caused by basement wall cracks, there’s a bit more to be done.

Don’t Fill Cracks

When people experience leaky basement wall cracks, their first instinct is typically to fill the cracks in. However, you should never try to fill in basement wall cracks from the inside. 

Because water leaks in from the outside, filling the cracks from the inside traps water within the walls. The water will then expand and contract with the weather. This will cause a lot more damage to your walls than if you’d left them.

Determine Severity

Next up, you need to figure out how severe the problem is. During the worst weather of the year, is the leaking simply causing moisture on the inside of the walls, or is it running down them and pooling on the floor? If the worst the weather can do is give you a little moisture on your interior basement walls, you probably just need damp proofing. However, if it’s enough to pool, even in tiny rivulettes or puddles, you’ll want to go the waterproofing route. 

Both methods involve accessing the basement walls from the outside, which means digging a trench along the side of the house. However, they each offer a different level of protection.

Basement Damp Proofing

When damp proofing, the real culprit is the cracks in the wall, allowing regular ground moisture in. So, when hiring POM Waterproofing to damp proof your basement walls, we fix cracks from the outside and then coat the exterior of your basement walls. The crack repair will build the integrity of the walls back up while the coating will keep moisture from getting in or forming new ones. 

Basement Waterproofing

When waterproofing, the culprit is the amount of water trying to get at your basement walls. A high level of ground water will cause damage to otherwise intact walls. This happens when rain collects along the basement wall and erodes the stone.

When we waterproof your basement walls, we do the same process as damp proofing, but take it a step further. Once the wall has been smoothed and coated, we apply a solid membrane and adhere it to the wall. This membrane provides a solid barrier between ground water and your basement. Then, we install a track that collects and redirects ground water that finds its way to the membrane. The water will then be redirected away from the house, ensuring it doesn’t just pool against the membrane.

Give us a call today if you’re interested in protecting your home from invasive water. 

Basement Flooding in an Old Home

Finding water in your basement can be quite a shock. Not only does basement flooding mean expensive repairs, it may also mean the ruin of whatever was stored down there. Therefore, we need to get to the bottom of where that water is coming from to ensure it doesn’t return, once the current disaster is cleaned up!

For now, we’ll focus on basement flooding in an old home. Basement flooding is likely caused by different things in an old home than a new one. If you need help with basement flooding in a newer home, check out our last article. If you’re struggling with moisture, rather than water, we have an article for you as well.

Outdated, Broken Plumbing

When a home has been standing for decades, the plumbing takes quite a beating. In fact, when plumbing has been used for that long, it begins to lose its efficiency. Not only can old pipes be unable to keep up with modern water pressure, they can also rust.

Rusted pipes don’t just make the tap taste like metal. When pipes rust, it can weaken them and the parts holding them together. With every year, your home’s plumbing becomes more and more likely to burst somewhere.

If the there’s no storm outside and the water in your basement looks mostly clear, there’s a good chance it’s coming from a burst pipe. Call us immediately for emergency repair services.

Damaged Basement Walls

If the water in your basement looks a bit less clear, or straight up muddy, it’s most likely coming from outside. There are two ways for outside water to come in. The first is that it’s coming through damaged basement walls.

Over the years, your basement walls, if not properly waterproofed, will gain cracks for water to get in. The cracks won’t allow much more than damp walls at first. However, with time, the cracks will widen and reach all the way inside. When it rains, the water that soaks into the surrounding soil will begin leaking into your basement through the walls.

If this is the source of your basement flooding, it’s either a very minor flood, or there were warning leaks leading up to this. If it’s storming hard at the moment, a small leak may have turned into a sudden stream of water in your basement. Either way, it’s time to get that fixed with exterior basement waterproofing.

Groundwater Rising

The second way water can come in from outside, causing basement flooding, is through the basement floor. If you live at the bottom of a hill, if it’s been particularly rainy lately, or if an existing subfloor sump pump has stopped working, water will rise up into the basement from the surrounding ground. This is caused by the equilibrium of the groundwater. The solution is to have a sump pump installed, or to have an existing one checked for malfunctions. A sump pump will collect water that rises up beneath the floor, redirecting it away from the house.

Basement Flooding in a New Home

If you’ve recently moved into a new home, suddenly finding water in the basement is a huge shock. After all, it’s old homes that should be having these problems, right? Unfortunately, new homes have a couple of potential causes for basement flooding as well. Because the home is new, you’re the first family living in it after it’s been built. That means, any issue in the construction of the building that’s gone unnoticed until now is now your problem. 

For now, we’ll focus on basement flooding in a new home. Basement flooding is likely caused by different things in a new home than in an old one. If you need help with basement flooding in an older home, check out our next article. If you’re struggling with moisture, rather than water, we have an article for you as well.

Poor Plumbing

Unfortunately, not all buildings are made with good plumbing. Plumbing contractors are often hired to do the entire plumbing system in a new home as it’s being built. If the company in charge of the building’s construction wants to save money, they’ll cut corners. That can mean that they hire people with a poor reputation or lack of training. That leads to a home with extremely poor plumbing.

If pipe connections are done wrong or placed poorly, or even if the wrong size piping is used, the new owners of the home may end up with a burst pipe right off the bat. A burst, inflowing pipe means an immediate flooding situation. If the pipe is placed in a wall without any nearby openings, or below the main floor, a burst will lead to basement flooding. In that case, you need immediate, emergency plumbing assistance.

How do you know if poor plumbing is the cause of your basement flooding? The easiest way to figure this out is by ruling out water from outside. If it’s not storming and the water looks clear, it’s probably from a burst pipe. If it is storming, but the water looks clear, you might need a professional’s opinion. Storm water is typically filled with sediment, but stranger things have happened than clear storm water.

Poor or Nonexistent Waterproofing

If your home was just recently built, it’s unlikely that your basement has flooded from through the basement walls, but not impossible. If the basement walls were built poorly, there may be enough space, perhaps between bricks, for water to come in. With exterior basement waterproofing, this wouldn’t be possible.

Any home in a location that risks heavy groundwater should have exterior basement waterproofing done during initial construction. However, this isn’t the industry standard, which leaves homeowners, like you, having to get that done yourself.

Give us a call and have us come out to assess your basement flooding. If we find that your walls are letting in groundwater, we can make a plan for you to have your basement walls waterproofed.

Poor Home Location

Finally, the basement flooding could be caused by poor location. For example, if your home is at the bottom of a hill, rainwater will pool there. While water pooling on the surface can cause issues, it’s more likely to cause problems after it’s soaked into the ground.

You know how the amount of water in your straw will always be at the same height as the water in your glass? This is from equilibrium. If the ground around your basement is full of water, that water will rise up, into the water-free space in your basement. The solution to this kind of flooding is installing a sump pump, which should have been done during construction.