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Can You Connect a Downspout to a French Drain?

Can You Connect a Downspout to a French Drain?
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What do you do when you see a puddle too close to your home foundation? Have you asked yourself if a French drain would help? Better yet, have you ever wondered: can I connect my downspout to a French drain?

Luckily, you can connect both the downspout and French drain. However, if you join the downspout directly to the French drain, it could cause other problems.

To get them to work together correctly, you’ll need to extend either one or both of them.

Ready to learn how to extend your French drain and connect it to the downspout? Let’s get started!

How to Connect a Downspout to a French Drain

A French drain is an underground drainage system that collects water and funnels it away from your foundation. It’s just a trench filled with gravel, so it doesn’t require any specialized equipment or knowledge of plumbing.

You can easily connect the downspout from your gutter to the French drain. So when those rainy storms get too much, you won’t have to worry about anything!

If you choose to install a DIY French drain and connect it to your downspout, the project will be messy and complicated—but it’s worth the effort! Let’s take a look at how to do it.

Step One: Get Your Papers Ready

Before you begin this DIY project, you need to make sure the source of the water isn’t an internal one. This means that it isn’t caused by plumbing issues or sewage leaking, but simply some rainwater.

You’ll also need to check for any underground wiring, pipes, or other installations that could hinder the digging process.

Moreover, some counties have laws on whether people can build or even dig their property. You should speak with a city official and ask for all the details before starting anything.

Step Two: Look for a Slope in the Ground

Now that you have all your papers ready, it’s time to find the perfect spot on your grounds. For this to work, the drain will need a slope so that water flows smoothly with the force of gravity.

Of course, not all homes have a natural downhill slope. Luckily, you can take care of this while you’re digging for the drain pipes.

The drainage trench can be dug progressively deeper as you go along so that the downspout will drain more easily into the soil.

Don’t worry about getting the depth of your drainage system absolutely perfect. Just make sure there are no bumps or swells in the middle of the trench, where the water could start to accumulate.

Step Three: Gather Your Tools and Start Digging

To start this project, you’ll need:

  • A spade
  • A digging hoe
  • A shovel
  • Porous landscape fabric
  • A perforated drain pipe (four inches in diameter)
  • Washed gravel (use this calculator to determine how much you need)

Once you’ve checked that you have everything, it’s time to dig the trench in the ground. This is the easiest step, but it’s also the most tedious!

French drain trenches are usually 12 inches wide and 18 to 24 inches deep, so plan accordingly when digging your trench. Also, don’t throw out the excess dirt; save it for later.

Dig the trench near the downspout, and then continue digging until you’ve reached the desired length. As you proceed, check the depth of the trench to make sure it’s sloping correctly so the water will flow smoothly.

Step Four: Cover the Ground and Add the Gravel

After the ground is dug up, place the landscape fabric at the bottom of the trench. Because the landscape fabric is meant to allow the water to flow, it must be a water-permeable material.

Woven fabrics or spun ones are the best materials to allow water to stream easily without letting any dirt or debris pass through. Once you have covered the entire trench with the fabric, leave at least ten extra inches of it on each side of it.

You’ll need this extra fabric later to fold it over the pipe so that it doesn’t clog up the drain. You can secure it in place with some nails or pins if you like.

Once it’s been laid down properly on the ground, shovel the washed gravel along the bottom of the trench and onto the fabric. Keep it around 2 or 3 inches thick.

Last Step: Lay the Pipe and Connect the Downspout

After you finish the gravel layer, lay the drain pipe on top of it and make sure that its holes face down. Cover the pipe with gravel, leaving 3 to 5 inches between the gravel on the pipe and the top of the trench.

Next, remove the pins from the fabric on the side and fold it over the gravel. Now, you’re all ready to fill in the trench with the soil that you dug up before.

To connect the downspout to the French drain, some people use an extension pipe directly into the drain. However, this could occasionally lead to water concentrations, and ice can build up in frosty weather.

A better option is for you to use a downspout diverter that attaches directly to the downspout and redirects the water near the French drain.

This works best if the French drain is close to your downspout. However, if that’s not the case, use an extension pipe on the downspout and lead it to where the drain is.

Extensions give you flexibility with the placement of the pipe as well as keep the water further away from your house foundation.

Final Thoughts

So, are you still wondering, can I connect the downspout to a French drain? Hopefully, after reading this article, you won’t have to wonder anymore!

Now you can build the French drain yourself and connect it to the downspout, following the steps we provided above.

Even if you’ve already got a drain in place, extending it closer to the downspout can save you plenty of money on a water-damaged property.