If you’ve ever experienced water problems in your basement or yard, you may have wondered how to prevent them from happening again. One of the solutions that can help you avoid water damage and flooding is by installing a weeping tile system – but where does all that unwanted water go?
A weeping tile is a type of perimeter drainage pipe that collects excess water from the soil and redirects it away from your foundation. Here in Vancouver (not nicknamed “Raincouver” for nothing!) that’s a hugely important function on practically every property – it’s what prevents flooding by keeping rainwater away from window wells or low-lying areas in your yard.
But is a weeping tile system the best way to accomplish drainage? And what are the different types of weeping tile systems that you can choose from? In this blog post, we’ll answer those questions and more.
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Why can you trust us? Because our plumbing experts have more than half a century of experience in installing, repairing, and maintaining both residential and commercial drainage systems in one of the rainiest cities in North America.
How does weeping tile work?
A weeping tile is usually made of plastic or PVC and has small holes or slits on one side. The pipe is buried below the ground in a trench that’s filled with gravel and soil and sloped away from your foundation. The holes on the pipe face downward to allow water to enter.
As we’ve written about before, it’s an effective system for preventing flooding, especially here in Vancouver where we often have rainwater or snowmelt seeping through the ground. As the water reaches the level of the weeping tile, it flows into it through the holes then travels along the pipe until it reaches an outlet where it can be discharged safely.
Common weeping tile drainage outlets
Depending on where you live and what kind of drainage system you have, there are different ways that a weeping tile can drain:
To a storm sewer
This is when the weeping tile connects to a municipal storm sewer system that carries rainwater away from your property. This option requires permission from your local authorities and may not be available in some areas.
To a sump pit
This is when the weeping tile drains into a basin or pit located inside or outside your basement. The pit contains a sump pump that automatically turns on when the water level rises above a certain point. The pump then pushes the water out through another pipe that leads to your yard or street.
To a French pit
This is when the weeping tile drains into a large hole filled with rocks located away from your house. The hole acts as a reservoir that holds excess water until it gradually seeps into the ground.
To “daylight” (an open area)
This is when the weeping tile drains directly to an open area such as your lawn, garden, ditch, or pond. If you hear a plumber or contractor talking about “draining to daylight”, this is what they’re referring to. This option requires enough space and slope on your property to allow proper drainage without causing erosion or flooding.
Are weeping tiles and French drains the same thing?
Weeping tile and French drain are two terms that are often used interchangeably to refer to a type of drainage system that consists of a perforated pipe surrounded by gravel. However, there are some slight differences between them.
The easiest way to differentiate between them is by where they’re placed and how deeply they’re buried – the following section has more details to help you understand the main differences.
What are interior vs exterior weeping tiles?
There are two main types of weeping tiles that you can install depending on where you want to place them:
Exterior Weeping Tiles
These are also known as French drains or perimeter drains because they are installed around the outside edge of your foundation wall. They’re typically buried 2-3 feet below ground level and are designed to prevent groundwater from reaching your basement by diverting it away before it gets there.
Interior Weeping Tiles
These are also known as subfloor drains because they are installed under your basement floor along the inside edge of your foundation wall. Compared to exterior weeping tiles, interior weeping tiles tend to be placed at a greater depth, sometimes as deep as 10 feet below ground. They are designed to collect any water that leaks through cracks or gaps in your foundation and direct it to a sump pit where it can be pumped out.
Which one is better?
A better question would be: which one is right for your property?
Both types of weeping tiles have their advantages and disadvantages depending on various factors such as soil conditions, foundation type, budget, accessibility, etc.
You may need one or both types depending on how severe your property’s water problem is and what kind of solution you prefer.
How to install weeping tiles
Installing a weeping tile system is not an easy task and requires careful planning, preparation, excavation, installation, backfilling, grading, etc. It also involves following building codes and regulations as well as obtaining permits if necessary.
Expert Tip: Proceed With Caution!
Unless you have experience and expertise in this field, it is highly recommended that you hire a professional contractor to do this job for you.
A qualified contractor will be able to assess your situation, recommend the best type of weeping tile system for your needs, provide quality materials and equipment, and ensure proper installation and maintenance.
Guidelines for installing weeping tiles
However, if you decide to install a weeping tile system yourself, here are some general steps that you need to follow:
- Determine where you want to place your weeping tiles (exterior or interior) and mark out their location using stakes and string.
- Check with your local utilities provider – that’s FortisBC here in Vancouver – before you begin digging to make sure you aren’t potentially damaging any water or gas lines.
- Dig out trenches along the approved path using shovels or excavators (you may need to break up concrete). Remember to double check with your utilities provider if you end up needing to dig in a different location!
Property drainage is becoming more important
Extreme weather is bringing heavier, more frequent rainfall all across the country, and it’s putting pressure not only on the drainage systems of Canadian properties, but the wallets of home and business owners, too.
Just within the past few years, property owners and municipalities nationwide have been forced to plan for new patterns in seasonal weather, such as:
- Increased frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall events that may overwhelm the capacity of existing drainage infrastructure and cause widespread flooding.
- Increased precipitation and ground saturation leading to erosion, ground instability, and landslides.
- Increased sea level rise that may increase the risk of coastal flooding and saltwater intrusion into groundwater aquifers.
It’s absolutely true that improving the drainage system of a home or business isn’t cheap, but in almost every case the cost of those improvements is far less than the cost of water damage or – even worse – structural damage.
By having proper drainage systems at home level, property owners can protect their properties from flood damage while also contributing to the overall resilience of urban drainage systems under climate change.
Prevent flooding on your property
You now have the answer to, “where does weeping tile drain to?” – and you know that it shouldn’t be depositing water in or around your home. If you’re experiencing water leaks, dampness, or mold in your basement or crawl space, you may have a problem with your weeping tile system.
Here at Hillcrest Plumbing, our Vancouver plumbers have over 50 years of experience in inspecting, repairing, or replacing weeping tiles and other types of perimeter drainage systems.
Don’t let water ruin your home – let our certified plumbing technicians take care of your drain tile needs. Contact us today to book an appointment for a free estimate and consultation!