How to Install Drain Tile

Drain tile is one of your home's most important defenses against water damage.

Drain tile combined with your foundation's cement footer channels water away from your foundation to prevent seepage into the basement through cracks in the structure. Your home will already come with some form of drain tile system, but you can always choose to install an updated drain tile system if you want to upgrade.

Dig a trench around your home. This is most effectively done using heavy equipment, but shovels and hoes can also do the job. Just remember that the trench needs to go to the base of your foundation and along the footer (which is a section of concrete that extends out from the base of the foundation).

Dig a slightly deeper section along the edge of the footer, enough to accommodate the drain tile. Drain tile usually has a four-inch diameter, so keep that dimension in mind as you set your drain tile trench.

Place filtration paper or a similar water filter product in the base of the drainpipe trench. The filtration paper will prevent sediment from entering and clogging the drain tile.

Set down the sections of drain tile along the edges of the footer in the trench and atop the filtration paper. Seal the joints well to prevent leaking using the appropriate sealant (PVC pipes use epoxies, for example).

Fill the trench atop the drain tile with at least six inches of washed gravel. The gravel helps channel the water towards the drainpipe and prevent it from building up around the edge of the foundation.

Re-cover the gravel and drain tile installation with the displaced earth.

Things You Will Need

  • Drain tile
  • Cement
  • Waterproofing
  • Gravel
  • Heavy equipment


  • Always try to install your drain tile in a way that will allow you to channel the water away from your home and out from the ground. Many homes can have their drain tile piping lead directly to the sewer system or to the street, so see if the slope of your property would accommodate such a design.


  • Never install drain tile by yourself without the assistance of a trained professional unless you have experience doing so. Failure to properly install drain tile can and will lead to structural damage of your home's foundation.