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A French drain, or curtain drain, removes excess surface water so you won’t need hip boots to cut the grass.
A French drain, sometimes called a curtain drain, is a simple system with no moving parts — gravity removes excess water from problem areas in your yard. Give gravity a chance to do its job by making sure your French drain design has the proper slope from beginning to end.
Which End is Up?
The two ends of a French drain system are:
- The drain field, or high end, where excess ground water enters the drain pipes
- The drain exit, or lowest point, where water leaves the system
A French drain needs a slope of no less than 1%. That means from the highest point of the drain field all the way to the drain exit, the system should slope at least 1 inch for every 8 feet of length.
Start with Your Exit Strategy
Select a location on your property for the drain exit. The goal is to move water away from your house and foundation, or from the soaked part of your yard, to a drier area.
Good locations for drain exits:
- A grassy slope that’s exposed to the sun for most of the day. Grasses help absorb moisture and the sun aids evaporation.
- A spot closest to your problem area so you can keep the system as short as possible, saving costs.
- The street, so it can be carried away by your municipal storm drain system. But check with your local building department first.
Don’t locate the drain exit:
- Where runoff is directed toward a neighbor’s yard.
- Where the water could run onto a sidewalk or driveway and turn to ice during freezing weather. Directing drainage toward pavement often is a violation of building codes.
- Where runoff could cause erosion, such as a dirt slope with no protective vegetation.
Connecting to an Existing Drain Line
Some houses have rain gutters that empty into an underground drainage system, which ties into a municipal storm drain. Your French drain can tie into this system also.
Local codes might require a backflow valve that prevents water from backing up onto your property if a clog occurs downstream. Expect to pay about $500 for a plumber to install this device.
No Acceptable Exit Point
If you can’t find a good place for your system to drain, you’ll need to empty your system into a dry well. A dry well is a vertical hole, typically about 4 feet deep and 1 foot in diameter, that’s filled with gravel. A dry well lets excess water be absorbed by the surrounding soils.
Determining Proper Slope
If your yard is sloped, it may be easy to spot the high point (drain field) and low points (drain exit) for your system.
If you’re not sure, use a line level to determine slope:
- Pound a stake into the problem area and another at a possible exit point.
- Tie a mason’s string to the stakes.
- Put a line level on the string. Pull the string taut and level.
- Measure the distance from the string to the ground at the stakes, and calculate the drainage slope.
Remember, you can add some slope when you install your system by digging the trench progressively deeper.
Using a Professional to Determine Slope
A surveyor, civil engineer, or landscape contractor will use a tripod-mounted transit level to help you determine the slope you’ll need for your system and possible exit points. Expect to pay $150 to $250 for the service.
Route Around Roots and Utilities
- Plan to route your drain line around large trees to avoid cutting roots. Roots usually extend to the “drip line” of the tree — the outmost edge of its branches.
- Call 811, the Call Before You Dig hotline, to have the location of underground utility lines marked on your property. You want to check not only in areas where the drain will live but also where you might dig a dry well. This is a free service.
More than just a place to browse eye-candy, Pinterest can be a handy source for remodel and repair information
It’s treasure trove of images is an unlimited resource for organizing and planning projects. From picking paint colors to fixing clogged drains, we’ll show you how to put Pinterest to work.
If you’re already on Pinterest, just scroll past this primer to the tips.
If you’re not using Pinterest, here’s the 411: It’s a virtual scrap board that allows users to find, save, and share images. Pinterest calls saved images “pins.”
When you save a pin, you’re asked to pick or create a board. Boards are how you organize pins by topic. For example, if you’re remodeling your kitchen, you can save all of your kitchen ideas on a board titled “kitchen.”
What else can you do?
- Create collaboration boards that allow other people to pin their ideas to your boards.
- Make your board secret so only you and the people you invite can see it.
- Follow other boards created by Pinterest users. When you do, their images show up in your home feed.
- Use your home feed to find new things to pin to your boards.
Tip: Pinterest is a great way to make sure family members, remodelers, and contractors are on the same page when it comes to projects, products, materials, and your vision.
No Need to Surf Multiple Sites
Although you can pin images from other websites to your board, you can also find all the products, tips, and DIYs you need right on Pinterest. Here’s an example:
When HouseLogic writer Dona DeZube was looking for countertops and floor tile to pair with her new cabinets, she searched Pinterest using the cabinets’ brand and style to find how others were using the cabinets. She even found a few ideas on how to configure her cabinets. Check out her board.
Tip: Eliminating pins is just as important as posting new finds. Edit your boards to save only the best combinations of ideas.
Some tricks for browsing through lots of pinboards for ideas:
Be specific when you use the search box. If you’re looking for flooring, search by the type of flooring you want, like wood flooring.
Filter results. Right under the search box, you can toggle between Pins, Boards, and Pinners to get different views on your search:
- When you click Pins, you’ll see pins of wood flooring.
- When you click Boards, you’ll see boards with the words “wood flooring” in the title.
- When you click Pinners, you”lll see boards created by companies that have “wood flooring” in their name.
- Our search “how to unclog a drain” resulted in a gazillion solutions.
- When we searched by “unclog a drain DIY,” we whittled the results to a more manageable few dozen.
Tip: When looking for instructions, try separate searches using the terms “DIY” or “tutorial” along with the name of your topic.
Tip: When you find a pin you like, scroll down. You’ll see an option to check out more boards that feature similar pins. Scroll down further, and you’ll see a list of related pins.
By: Deirdre Sullivan is an NYC-based writer who’s obsessed with maximizing every inch of her urban dwelling
Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic
Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”
Your home is your castle — enjoy it, customize it, make it reflect your taste and values. But, there’s one area where being too individualistic carries risk: landscaping for curb appeal.
That’s why homeowners associations often have exacting rules about landscaping.
And it’s not just HOAs that care. Most home buyers seek landscaping that adds “functionality and resale value,” rather than “frills and lifestyle,” according to the National Association of Home Builders recent “What Home Buyers Really Want” report.
Good landscaping can add up to 28% to the overall value of a house, says landscape economist John Harris, and cut its time on the market 10% to 15%. Even taking your landscaping to the next level, upgrading from “good” to “excellent,” in terms of design, condition, and placement, can add 6% to 7% to a home’s value, according to a Clemson University study.
But don’t landscape merely to flip a house. You won’t get your money back, Sandy MacCuish, a California appraiser, tells us. Instead landscape for your enjoyment (Did you know trees reduce stress in just 5 minutes?), knowing that you’re making a good investment.
Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®