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Clogged Basement Drain Tile Systems

A severely clogged basement drain system filled with mud and roots.

Exterior drainage systems sit under several feet of mud, with only crushed stone (and sometimes filter fabric) to protect it.

These systems are prone to clogging over time -- and are impossible to service without excavating the yard.

After more than 20 years in the waterproofing business, one truth has become painfully clear to us: some drainage systems are much, much better than others.

At Basement Systems, we have firsthand experience with waterproofing systems of every type. We've seen directly how some systems provide effective solutions for the homeowners -- while others can lead to future basement problems.

Features Of Our Basement Drain Systems

  • Designed Not To Clog
  • Collects Water From Basement Walls
  • Installs In A Day Or Two
  • Easily Serviceable Year-Round

Basement Systems provides and recommends interior drainage systems over exterior methods, which provide a faster and less expensive method -- with no foundation excavation required.

Free estimate to install a clog resistant basement drain in your home.Your local Basement Systems Dealer is certified to install our line of award-winning, warranted basement waterproofing products in your home to help you create a drier, healthier space!

Your local dealer is standing by to provide you with a free basement waterproofing estimate! Each of our free, no-obligation estimates includes an on-site professional inspection, customized cost estimate, and a complimentary copy of our full-color waterproofing book!

A basement that is flooding with iron-ochre-laden water.

Iron Ochre is a thick, gelatinous, rust-colored substance that is found in groundwater worldwide where levels of ferrous iron or manganese are high.

This thick slime is infamous for clogging wells and drainage systems of all types, including French drain systems. Our WaterGuard® IOS™ drainage system is uniquely designed for this challenge.

Common Basement Drain Systems

There are two ways to drain groundwater away from a foundation -- from the exterior of the foundation via a drain buried around the foundation, or from the interior via a drain installed along the interior perimeter of the floor.

Exterior Basement Drains

Exterior basement drains are buried in the dirt under the foundation, and are surrounded by stone for drainage. In some cases, a layer of filter fabric is also used to protect the drain. The drain pipe depends on gravity alone to direct water away from your foundation.

After several years, the dirt and mud will make their way into the drains, eventually leading to clogs in the system. The gravel and filter fabric will slow this process, but mud makes its way through gravel, and the filter fabric will eventually clog as well.

Once a perimeter drain is clogged, there is no way to service it without excavating the soils around the foundation -- as well as all landscaping in the way.

Interior Basement Drains

Interior drains are installed along the inside perimeter of a basement. Typically, these drains are installed underneath the floor, but in the case of a baseboard drain system, the drain is installed along the top of the floor instead. Baseboard drain systems are typically used if home has a monolithic floor, where the slab floor and foundation footing are poured as one piece.

Interior drains are most often connected to a sump pump system, which collects groundwater from the perimeter drain and actively discharges it from the home.

More about the DO's & DONT's Of Interior Drainage

Six Ways To Avoid Clogging Basement Drain Systems

Interior drain systems come in many shapes, sizes, and designs -- a small change in the way they're made can make a big difference in their overall effectiveness and resistance to clogging.

What follows are some of the recommendations the contractors at Basement Systems have for designing a clog-resistant basement drain system.

A diagram of locations where a basement drain can be placed, including on the foundation footer and in the mud zone.

Place The Drain Out Of The Mud Zone

A drain that sits in mud is can clog with mud -- it's as simple as that. Mud will eventually work its way through gravel, clog filter fabric, and block up perimeter drain systems -- both on the exterior and the interior.

There is no "self-flushing" drainage system -- if mud gets in, some of it will stay there. And when water seeps into a drain from the mud, it will bring some mud with it.

By placing a perimeter drain on top of the foundation footing, it rests above the "mud zone" while still being able to collect water at its most common point of entrance -- the joint where the foundation wall meets the floor.The drain can still be installed underneath the floor, on top of a bed of clean stone. Small service ports can be installed to access the system at a later date.


Our basement drain system compared to the round white PVC pipe of traditional French drains.

Do Not Use Generic Drain Tile

Like most technologies these days, basement drain systems have come a long way.

There's a good reason that new drain systems are designed the way they are. These drains are created to clog less often, to install more quickly, and to require you to remove less of your basement floor during installation.

New basement drainage systems are also designed to collect water from the basement walls, and have been customized for many different challenges, such as installation around thin floors, dirt floors, and around leaky hatchway doors.

More about our Basement Drain Systems


An open gap running along a concrete basement wall, as part of a basement waterproofing system.

Avoid Open Gaps On The Slab Floor

Old-fashioned basement drains are installed by jackhammering the basement floor around the perimeter and installing a large, round PVC pipe in the opening.

As the floor is restored with new concrete, a 2" x 4" board is placed against the wall. As the concrete is placed, this board helps to create an open gap along the floor.

This gap is designed to collect water leaking from the basement walls. It also collects debris from the basement floor, which leads to clogs in the drainage system.

At Basement Systems, our drain pipe is designed with a 3/8" wall flange, which extends above the floor to collect water -- without collecting debris from the floor.


An airtight sump pump liner, battery backup, and sump pump discharge line.

Install A Sump Pump System

At Basement Systems, we always recommend installing a sump pump system along with your perimeter drain. A battery backup system should also be included to protect from power outages and periods of heavy water volumes.

A sump pump will actively pump water out of your basement, allowing it to drain much more water than a passive drain system is able to remove. This is vital during rainy months, when heavy volumes of water can easily overwhelm waterproofing systems.

A passive gravity drain is slow-moving, and it can lead to mud deposits in the drain over time. A sump pump can keep muddy water moving, preventing much of the dirt from having time to settle in the drainage channel.


Our frozen discharge line extension for sump pump systems.

Safeguard Against Freezing Drains

The discharge line of a sump pump is often the weakest link in a waterproofing system -- especially during the winter months.

When temperatures drop below freezing, sump pump discharge lines can freeze over and clog. Even a partial clog in the discharge line can force the sump pump system to work harder to pump out the water, which can increase the chances of the pump overheating and causing the sump pump to fail.

At Basement Systems, we install a grated opening at the base of each of our discharge lines. This opening is designed to give water a second way out of your home should a freezing discharge line occur.

More about our IceGuard™ Discharge Protection


A foundation drainage system discharge line with no protective covering on the discharge opening.

Protect The Discharge Line Opening

Another weak point in a sump pump discharge line is located at point where the water exits your system.

In many cases, contractors will leave this wide open, allowing the space to fill with leaves, mud, and other debris. Animals will also occasionally live (and die) inside of these openings, which can also lead to clogs.

At Basement Systems, we design our discharge lines with grated outlet that blend subtly with the rest of your landscaping and will not present a tripping hazard when installed in your yard.

More about our LawnScape®™ Water Outlet

We Install Warranted Basement Drain Systems!

At Basement Systems, our dealers have waterproofed hundreds of thousands of basements across Canada and the United States, and we have a warranted solution that can help you!

Each of our locally owned and operated dealers provides free basement waterproofing estimates to homeowners within their service area. Our free estimates include a professional inspection and consultation, a customized written cost estimate, and a complimentary copy of our full-color waterproofing book.

To schedule your free basement waterproofing estimate, contact us by phone or e-mail today!

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Quality, Innovation, Patents, Awards

Our innovative and forward-thinking approach to designing products has solved wet basement problems that the basement waterproofing and crawl space industry has faced for decades, and our patented sump pump systems are the smartest and most reliable. Plus we listen to our customers and respond accordingly! Basement Systems Inc. has been awarded 24 Patents and 19 Innovation Prizes on waterproofing products we use every day, including a battery back up sump pump system. This approach ensures the best waterproofing systems and solutions available.

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