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DIY Basement Trough System to Divert Water

John Landers

A do-it-yourself trough system to divert water from the basement can prevent costly damage to your residence. Often water enters a basement at the joints where the walls meets the floor, and usually rainwater and melting snow are the main causes for water accumulation in the basement. Building a trough system may be one of the most effective, and least, costly options of getting rid of the problem. "French drains" are commonly constructed around the perimeter of basements to eliminate the age-old problem of wet basements.


A basement trough system to divert water must run downhill to the lowest point.

The French drain system is a perimeter trough system that is usually installed close to the residence. The system can be put on the outside or on the interior. The basic idea is to collect water and carry it away to the lowest point on the property so that it does not flow back into the home. Go to your town's building code department and speak to the building code inspector about the regulations for drainage systems for diverting water from the basement.

Interior French Drain

An effective option for a DIY basement trough system is to install a French drain on the interior of the structure. Water that comes up through the floor or infiltrates the foundation walls is captured, diverted and discharged. This trough system also requires the installation of a sump pump. Measure a point 18 to 24 inches away from the walls. Use a jackhammer to break up the concrete. Remove a 6-inch wide patch of concrete running the entire length of the walls. Excavate 18 inches of soil and fill the bed with 2 inches of gravel. The stones provide a solid bed to lay 4-inch diameter-perforated pipe around the perimeter of the floor.

Place the perforated holes of the pipe face down. Slope the pipe at ¼ inch per foot so that it drains properly. The pipe feeds into a collection tank located at some point along the perimeter of the basement floor. Fill the rest of the space, on the sides and top of the perforated pipe, with gravel. Install a reliable sump pump in the collection tank. The sump pump removes the water and diverts it away from the house. Check your building codes to determine the depth of the collection container.

Exterior French Drain

The exterior trough system works basically the same way, except a sump pump is not required. Dig a U-shaped trench around the house 6 inches wide and 24 inches deep. Start excavating 4 to 6 feet from the home and route the trench to the lowest point on the land. Put a 2-inch layer of rocks in the hole. Install PVC perforated pipe, with a ¼ inch-per-foot slope, downhill to the water exit. Cover the pipe with rocks and top it with soil. Lay sod over the trench to match it with the surrounding landscape.