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The ins and outs of weeping tile

When dealing with a drainage problem in your basement, it may be difficult to determine where the problem is coming from. Could it be a leaky roof, poor drainage or worse, a crack in your foundation? Getting the help of a professional to determine the cause of your drainage issue first is a good idea. Here is a guide to everything you need to know about weeping tile, should you decide to have it installed.


What are weeping tiles?


Weeping tiles are porous 4-inch pipes that discharge underground water. They were originally named weeping tiles back when terracotta tiles were used for drainpipes. Today, the products used are plastic tubes with small slits designed to redirect water away from the home. Weeping tiles were invented by Henry Flagg French. He wrote a book about the subject back in 1859 and was heralded for solving the drain-clogging problem of the era.


How do weeping tiles work?


How weeping tiles work is really quite simple. The plastic pipes are placed, holes side up, into a trench around the perimeter of your home or inside under the basement floor. As ground water rises, it flows through the holes into the pipe. The water then follows the pipe’s incline to discharge away from the house, or into a sump pump where it is pumped away from the house.


Types of weeping tiles


There are two main types of weeping tiles

  • Exterior weeping tile, or French drains, manage water at ground level before it can get into your basement. This system consists of a trench that is sloped away from the house, as well as gravel and pipe. When surface water soaks into the ground, it is filtered through the gravel, then through holes in the pipe and directed away from the house.
  • Interior weeping tile is only used when exterior weeping tile has failed. This system is installed under the basement floor, where water is directed to a sump pump, through the pipes and into an exterior storm sewer. While installing weeping tile beneath a basement floor is like installing one outside, it can be more expensive. The process is similar to installing a sump pump. A 12-inch wide by 12-inch deep trench is cut around the entire perimeter of the basement, and a pipe is placed inside, filled with gravel and covered with concrete.

Weeping tile maintenance


To keep your weeping tile system working efficiently, regular plumbing checks and maintenance are required. There are a few things you can do to help maintain the life of your tile:

  • Clean out leaves from eaves troughs and redirect downspouts away from your house.
  • Keep window wells free of debris and add a cover.
  • Make sure your sump pump is working properly and add a better back-up.
  • Have any slow draining sinks or toilets checked for clogs.
  • Walk around your property to check for pooling water.

Now that you’re an expert, make sure to ask a professional to check your home drainage issue to see if this problem might be resolved with weeping tile!

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Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton.