Wheaton IL is a large and prosperous suburb about 25 miles west of Chicago. The seat of DuPage County, Wheaton’s growth has kept pace with that fast-growing county and it currently boasts of a population of more than 53,000.
The families of Wheaton live in approximately 20,000 houses, ranging in age from more than 75 years old to newer than 10. The truly meaningful statistic, however, is that nearly two-thirds of the homes in Wheaton are more than 35 years old and owners of these homes are experiencing the same maintenance and repair issues as owners of older homes everywhere.
The vast majority of homes in Wheaton have either full or partial basements and one of the most common issues faced by homeowners is basement water problems. Of course, these water problems stem from different causes and occur in different locations, but one common method of repair that works in most instances is to install drain tile.
The term “drain tile” often confuses homeowners who naturally think of tile as something that goes on the kitchen floor or the bathroom wall.
Calling a subsurface drain “tile” originated with the very first such drains that were used to remove excess water from farm fields. When these drainage systems first came on the scene they were made from pieces of terra cotta roofing tile, set one on top of another, to form the mechanism for drainage.
Leading up to the modern day, drain tile has changed from roofing tile to terra cotta pipe to the current standard of plastic pipe, but we still call it “tile.”
Whether on the interior or exterior, drain tile works the same way. Perforated pipe is installed next to the foundation footings, enclosed in a bed of washed gravel and connected to a sump basin. Underground pressure forces water into the pipe and the water flows to the sump basin where a sump pump discharges it from the house.
Choosing between interior and exterior drain tile is based on the source and nature of the seepage problem the home is experiencing. If seepage is coming through the wall because of deteriorated mortar joints or porous masonry units or concrete, then exterior drain tile is recommended. If water is seeping into the basement through cracks in the floor or through the cove joint between wall and floor, interior drain tile is called for.
An exterior drain tile installation is often done as an adjunct to an exterior waterproofing membrane that seals the wall against water penetration but can also be done on its own. The excavation that has been dug for the membrane to be installed is lined at the bottom with washed gravel, then perforated, rigid PVC pipe, which better withstands exterior pressures and soil exposures, is laid in and connected to a sump basin. More washed gravel goes on top and the excavation is backfilled.
When exterior pressure would ordinarily push water through the wall it instead forces water into the drain tile piping where it is transported to a sump pump.
Installing interior drain tile begins with removing a strip of the basement floor around the perimeter and digging a trench the same width down to the bottom of the footings. Several inches of washed gravel are poured and leveled in the trench and then flexible, corrugated, perforated pipe, wrapped in a sock of filtration fabric is laid on top. The pipe is connected at both ends (for a full-perimeter system) to the sump pit, then another layer of gravel is added and the cement floor is replaced.
When hydrostatic pressure under the foundation pushed water toward the floor it goes into the pipe instead and is carried off to the sump pump for discharge.
No matter if the recommendation for drain tile is an interior or exterior installation, a Wheaton homeowner with basement water problems will need the services of an experienced basement waterproofing contractor. At U.S. Waterproofing, we have installed miles of drain tile on either side of the foundation wall for thousands of the more than 300,000 satisfied customers we have served since 1957. So, why not ask for our free advice?
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