Gutter Empire LLC


Gutters vs. French Drains

December 15, 2022 | by Dmitriy Murza

Gutters and French drains are two essential components of a home’s drainage system. The installation of gutters along the roofline collects rainwater and directs it away from the foundation, while the installation of French drains in the ground redirects water away from the basement or foundation.

French drains collect water in a ditch filled with gravel and a perforated pipe that allows water to flow through. A drip line or other drainage system directs the water away from the foundation. Installers typically place footer drains at the foot of the foundation, similar to French drains but with a different location in the ground.

Gutters can be installed using a roof rake or by a professional contractor. They come in various sizes, typically 4-6 inches, and can be made from aluminum, copper, or vinyl materials. Proper installation and maintenance of gutters can prevent water damage to a home’s foundation and basement.

When deciding between gutters vs. French drains for your home’s drainage needs, consider factors such as your property’s slope, soil type, and proximity to bodies of water. A professional contractor can help you determine the best option for your situation.

How Gutters and French Drains Work Together for Water Management

Gutters and French drains are two essential components of a home’s water management system. While gutters collect rainwater from the roof and direct it to downspouts, which then channel the water away from the house’s foundation, French drains are designed to collect and redirect groundwater away from the foundation of the house, preventing water damage and flooding. Together, these two systems work harmoniously to manage surface and subsurface water.

Without gutters, rainwater can accumulate around the house’s foundation, leading to water damage, mold growth, and even structural issues. When it rains heavily or for extended periods, water can pool on your roof or overflow from your gutters if clogged or not installed correctly. This excess water then falls around your home’s foundation, seeping into the ground, causing soil erosion that can lead to cracks in your foundation walls.

On the other hand, without a French drain system in place, groundwater can seep into your home’s foundation through cracks in basement walls or floors. Over time this will cause similar issues as excess rainwater, such as mold growth and structural damage.

By using gutters and a French drain system, homeowners can effectively manage surface and subsurface water, protecting their homes from potential water damage. The key is to ensure that both systems are working together seamlessly.

One way to ensure these two systems work together is by installing gutter extensions at each downspout outlet. These extensions should be long enough to direct rainwater at least six feet away from your home’s foundation walls. This helps prevent pooling around your home’s perimeter while ensuring that any excess surface runoff doesn’t end up in your basement.

Another way to ensure that gutters and French drains work together is by maintaining them appropriately throughout the year. To prevent clogs that can cause water to overflow and damage your home’s foundation, you should clean out your gutters at least twice a year – once in the spring after the winter snow melt-off has finished and again in the fall after leaves have fallen. Additionally, you should inspect your French drains annually to ensure that they are functioning correctly.

It’s also important to note that gutters and French drains are only sometimes enough. In some cases, homeowners may need additional water management solutions, such as grading around the perimeter of their home or installing a sump pump in their basement. These solutions work together with gutters and French drains to manage excess water effectively.

Choosing the Best Water Management System: Dry Well, French Drain, or Sump Pump?

Sump pumps are popular for homeowners who want to keep their basements or crawl spaces dry. They collect water in a sump pit and then pump it away from your home’s foundation. But before you invest in a sump pump, it’s important to understand the different types available and how they work.

Submersible vs. Pedestal Sump Pumps

There are two main types of sump pumps: submersible and pedestal. Submersible pumps are installed inside the sump pit, while pedestal pumps are installed outside.

Submersible pumps are generally quieter and more efficient than pedestal pumps because they’re designed to operate underwater. They’re also less intrusive because they’re hidden inside the sump pit.

Pedestal pumps, conversely, have their motor mounted above ground level, making them easier to service but also louder and less efficient than submersible models.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Sump Pump

When choosing a sump pump, there are several factors you should consider:

Horsepower: The horsepower of your sump pump will determine how quickly it can move water out of your basement or crawl space. A higher horsepower rating means your pump can handle more water per minute.

Switch Type: Two main types of switches are used in sump pumps: float switches and pressure switches. Float switches turn on when the water level rises above a certain point, while pressure switches turn on when water pressure builds up in the discharge pipe.

Backup Power Options: If you live in an area with frequent power outages or heavy storms, you may consider investing in a backup power source for your sump pump. This could include a battery backup system or generator that will keep your pump running even if the power goes out.

Maintenance Requirements

Regular maintenance is crucial to ensure that your sump pump is functioning correctly when you need it most. This includes cleaning the sump pit, checking the pump’s float switch and discharge pipe for clogs, and testing the pump periodically to make sure it’s working correctly.

Consulting with a Professional

While a sump pump can be an effective water management system, there may be better options for some situations. Consulting with a professional can help you determine whether a sump pump is right for your needs or if another type of water management system would be more appropriate.

HomeAdvisor says the average cost to install a sump pump is $1,168. However, this cost can vary depending on factors such as the size of your home and the type of sump pump you choose.

In addition to their effectiveness at managing water in basements and crawl spaces, some insurance companies offer discounts to homeowners who have installed sump pumps in their homes. This is because sump pumps can help prevent costly water damage that could otherwise result from flooding or other types of water intrusion.

Different Options for Rain and Stormwater Management

Managing rain and stormwater is essential to maintaining a healthy yard, preventing water damage to the house, and protecting the environment. Various options are available for collecting rainwater, depending on the project size, soil type, and personal preference. This section will discuss some of the most common options for rain and stormwater management.


Directing rainwater from the roof to a downspout is a standard option for managing rainwater. The downspout can be connected to a municipal storm drain or discharged into a designated area in the yard. This option is relatively easy to implement and cost-effective. However, it may not be suitable for larger rooms with heavy rainfall as it can cause flooding in low-lying areas.

French Drain

A French drain is an underground drainage system that collects water and directs it away from the house. It involves digging a trench, lining it with landscape fabric, and filling it with gravel or rubble-type material. French drains effectively manage large volumes of water and prevent water damage to the house’s foundation. They are also helpful in preventing erosion caused by runoff water.

Stacked Field Stone

A stacked fieldstone wall can create a natural-looking barrier that directs rainwater away from the house. To create a fall, the wall can be built at ground level or on a slope. Stacked fieldstone walls are aesthetically pleasing and blend well with natural surroundings. They also provide habitat for small animals such as lizards and insects.


A combination of options can be used to manage rainwater effectively. For example, downspouts can be connected to a French drain or directed towards a stacked field stone wall. This option provides flexibility in handling different rainfall patterns while minimizing costs.


The soil in the yard plays an essential role in managing rainwater effectively. Adding organic matter to the ground can improve its ability to absorb water and reduce runoff. Soil with high clay content tends to retain moisture, which can cause flooding in low-lying areas. On the other hand, sandy soil has poor water retention capacity and requires frequent watering.

Project Size

The size of the project will determine which options are most suitable for managing rainwater. A French drain or stacked field stone wall may suffice for smaller areas. In comparison, larger areas may require a combination of options or professional help. Evaluating the project size and rainfall patterns is essential before deciding on the best option for managing rainwater effectively.

According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, 85% of homeowners consider drainage solutions an essential aspect of home design. The same study also found that French drains are one of the most popular options for managing rainwater.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that an average household can collect up to 1,500 gallons of rainwater during a one-inch rainfall event. This water can be used for various purposes, such as watering plants, washing cars, and flushing toilets.

Overview of French Drain Installation Process and Advantages of Installing One

French drains are an excellent solution for redirecting water away from your property, preventing water damage and erosion. They are low-maintenance and can last for decades without needing repairs or replacements. Moreover, they are versatile and can be installed in various locations, including around foundations, in gardens, and alongside driveways.

In this section, we will discuss the installation process of a French drain and the advantages of installing one on your property.

Installation Process

The installation process of a French drain involves digging a trench and lining it with gravel and a perforated pipe to allow water to flow through. Here is an overview of the steps involved in the installation process:

  1. Plan the layout: The first step is to plan the structure of the French drain. You must determine where to install it and how deep you must dig.
  2. Dig the trench: Once you have planned the layout, you must dig along that path. The depth of the trench should be at least 18 inches deep.
  3. Line with fabric: After digging the trench, line it with landscape or geotextile fabric. This will prevent soil from entering into your drainage system.
  4. Add gravel: Add about three inches of rock at the bottom of your trench.
  5. Install perforated pipe: Place it on top of the gravel layer so its holes face down toward the ground.
  6. Cover with more gravel: Cover up your perforated pipe with more gravel until there are about two inches left before reaching ground level.
  7. Cover with soil: Finally, cover everything up so that only a tiny portion of your French drain is visible above ground level.


Installing a French drain comes with several advantages that make it worth considering:

Pros and Cons of French Drains/Underground Drains and Benefits of Using Them

Underground drains, French drains, are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners. They offer a range of benefits that make them an attractive option for those looking to protect their homes from water damage. In this section, we’ll look at the pros and cons of French drains/underground drains and explore their benefits.

Pros of French Drains/Underground Drains

1. Aesthetically Pleasing Option

Underground drains offer a significant advantage as they hide from view, making them a more aesthetically pleasing option than gutters. While gutters can be seen on the roofline or along the side of a house, underground drains remain buried beneath the ground and out of sight. This helps maintain the overall appearance of your home’s exterior.

2. Effective at Preventing Water Damage

French drains can prevent water damage to your home’s foundation more effectively than gutters. While gutters collect rainwater from the roof and channel it away from the house, they sometimes need to redirect it farther away from the foundation to prevent damage. On the other hand, underground drains divert water from the foundation entirely, which can help avoid issues like basement flooding or foundation cracks.

3. Low Maintenance

Another advantage of underground drains is that they require less maintenance than gutters. Regular cleaning is necessary for gutters to remove debris such as leaves and twigs, which can clog up the system and lead to water backup issues. Underground drains, on the other hand, do not face this problem as they are buried beneath the ground where debris cannot accumulate.

4. Increases Home Value

Installing underground drains can increase the value of your home since they’re seen as a desirable feature by many homebuyers. Homebuyers want peace of mind knowing their new property won’t suffer any structural damages caused by water accumulation around their property’s foundations.

Cons of French Drains / Underground Drains

1. Cost

One of the most significant drawbacks of underground drains is that they can be expensive to install. The cost depends on several factors, including the size of your property and the type of drainage system you choose. However, investing in an underground drain system may be worth it if you live in an area with heavy rainfall or have experienced water damage.

2. Requires Professional Installation

Installing underground drains requires professional installation since it involves digging trenches around your home’s foundation and connecting them to a drainage system. This means you’ll need to hire a contractor or landscaper to do the job, which can add to the overall cost.

3. Potential for Clogging

While underground drains don’t require as much maintenance as gutters, they are still susceptible to clogging over time. Suppose debris like leaves and twigs found their way into the drainage system. In that case, it can cause blockages that prevent water from flowing freely away from your home’s foundation.

4. May Not Be Effective in All Situations

While French drains can prevent water damage in many cases, they may not be effective in all situations. For example, if your property is on a slope where water naturally flows away from the house or if you have a flat roof with no overhangs where rainwater doesn’t collect an underground drain system may not be necessary.

When to Avoid Installing a French Drain System and the Best Residential Water Management System

While French drains are an effective solution for managing water runoff in many situations, they may only be suitable for some types of soil and terrain. Consider other options if your property has high clay content or a high water table. Additionally, suppose your property has a steep slope. In that case, a French drain may not be effective as it requires a level surface to work properly.

Another factor to consider is the cost of installation. French drains can be expensive, especially if you have a large property or complex drainage needs. You should explore more affordable options if you’re on a tight budget.

One potential drawback of French drains is that they can become clogged over time. This is especially true if your property has a lot of trees or other vegetation with extensive root systems. When roots grow into the drain pipes, they can cause blockages that prevent water from flowing freely through the system.

In some cases, installing gutters instead of a French drain system may make more sense. Gutters are designed to collect rainwater as it runs off your roof and direct it away from your home’s foundation. By channeling water into downspouts and away from your house, gutters can help prevent basement flooding and other water damage.

If you decide to install gutters, several different types are available depending on your needs and budget. For example, aluminum gutters are lightweight and inexpensive but may dent easily in areas with heavy snowfall or hailstorms. Copper gutters are more durable but also much more expensive than aluminum.

Another option is affordable vinyl gutters, which are less durable than metal ones. Finally, steel gutters offer excellent durability but can be heavy and difficult to install without professional assistance.

Of course, installing gutters alone may not provide sufficient protection against water damage if you live in an area with heavy rainfall or frequent storms. Consider a combination of gutters, downspouts, and surface drainage systems in these cases.

Surface drainage systems are designed to manage water runoff from your property’s surface. These can include swales, shallow ditches that direct water away from your home’s foundation, or French drains installed at ground level.

By combining gutters, downspouts, and surface drainage systems, you can create a comprehensive water management system that protects your home from water damage and helps prevent basement flooding.

There are several factors to consider. First and foremost is the type of soil and terrain on your property. French drains may only be effective if you have a high clay content or water table.

Similarly, suppose you have a steep slope or large trees with extensive root systems on your property. In that case, you may explore other options, such as gutters or surface drainage systems.

Cost is another important consideration when choosing a water management system. While French drains can be effective in many situations, they can also be expensive to install. If you’re on a tight budget but still need protection against water damage, gutters may be a more affordable option.

Ultimately, the best approach will depend on your specific needs and circumstances. By working with a professional contractor specializing in residential water management solutions, you can develop a customized plan that meets all your requirements while staying within your budget constraints.

How to Lay Piping into the Trench for French Drain Installation

Digging a Trench for French Drain Installation

If you plan to install a French drain system, one of the most important steps is laying piping into the trench. This step can be done by following simple instructions to ensure your drainage system works properly and efficiently.

Start by digging a trench at least 18 inches deep and 12 inches wide. You can use a shovel or rent a trenching machine to make this task easier. The depth of the trench is essential because it needs to be deep enough to allow water to flow freely through the drainpipe.

Adding Gravel to the Bottom of the Trench

Once you’ve dug your trench, it’s time to add gravel to the bottom of it. Pour a layer of gravel into the bottom of the track, ensuring it’s level and even. This layer’s purpose is to support the drainpipe and create space for water to collect before being drained away.

Laying Down Drainpipe

After adding gravel, place your drainpipe into the trench on top of the gravel layer. Make sure it’s sloped towards an outlet so water flows out easily. Getting this slope right is essential; otherwise, water may pool in certain areas instead of flowing through your drainage system.

Connecting Sections with PVC Couplings

Next, connect each section of the drainpipe using PVC couplings and PVC cement. These connections are vital as they ensure no gaps between cells where water could leak out, or debris could enter.

Covering with Gravel

Once you’ve connected all pipe sections, cover them with another layer of gravel until they are about 2-3 inches below ground level. This additional layer supports your lines and helps prevent soil from clogging up your drainage system over time.

Backfilling with Soil

Finally, backfill your trench with soil while ensuring that you compact it as you go. This step is crucial to prevent settling, which could cause your drainage system to become uneven and ineffective.

Understanding Sump Pumps and Drain Tiles: When to Use Them?

There are a few different options available. One popular solution is the installation of drain tiles and sump pumps. But what exactly are these systems, and when should you use them?

Drain tiles are underground pipes that collect water and direct it away from your home’s foundation. Typically, people use them in areas with high water tables or heavy rainfall to prevent basement flooding. The pipes have perforations that allow water to enter and be carried away from the house.

Sump pumps work in conjunction with drain tiles to pump collected water out of the basement and away from the house. The pump sits in a pit or basin, which contains the water as it flows into the basement through the drain tile system. When the water reaches a certain level, the pump kicks on and sends it outside through a discharge pipe.

When should you consider installing these systems? They can be a wise investment if you have a wet basement or live in an area prone to flooding. Water damage can lead to mold growth, structural damage, and other costly issues. By preventing water from entering your basement in the first place, you can save yourself a lot of headaches (and money) down the road.

But what if your home is on a slope or has good drainage? In some cases, gutters may be sufficient to redirect rainwater away from your foundation. Gutters catch rainwater as it runs off your roof and direct it into downspouts that carry it away from your home’s foundation.

However, even if you have gutters installed, there may still be areas where water pools around your foundation. This is especially true if you live in a room with heavy rainfall or poor soil drainage. In these cases, adding drain tiles and a sump pump can provide extra protection against basement flooding.

It’s important to note that every situation is unique. Consult a professional to determine the best solution for your specific location and needs. A contractor or plumber can assess your home’s drainage system and recommend the most effective action.

In addition to preventing water damage, there are other benefits to installing drain tiles and sump pumps. For example, they can help to reduce humidity levels in your basement. This can be especially important if you use your basement as a living space or storage area.

Another benefit is that these systems can increase the value of your home. If you ever decide to sell, having a waterproof basement can be a significant selling point. It shows potential buyers that you’ve taken steps to protect your home from water damage, a common concern among homeowners.

It’s essential to hire a qualified professional. Installing drain tiles and sump pumps requires digging around your home’s foundation, which can be dangerous if not done correctly. A professional will also ensure that the system is appropriately sized for your home’s needs and that all components are installed correctly.

Choosing the Right Water Management System for Your Home

There are several options available. Gutters and French drains are two of the most popular choices, but there are better solutions for some situations. In this section, we’ll explore other options and help you determine which water management system is suitable for your home.

Dry Wells

A dry well is an excellent option if excess water needs to be directed away from your house. This type of system allows water to flow into an underground pit or well, where it can slowly percolate into the soil. Dry wells work best in areas with porous soil that can absorb water.

Sump Pumps

If you have a basement or cellar prone to flooding, a sump pump may be the best way to manage excess water. These pumps are installed in a pit below ground level and automatically pump out any water that enters the area. Sump pumps work best when paired with drain tiles that direct water toward them.


Daylighting is a process where pipes move water away from your property and towards a natural point of discharge like a stream or river. This method works well in areas with gentle slopes and plenty of open space.

French Drains

French drains are one of the most popular types of underground drainage systems. They consist of a trench filled with gravel or rock and perforated piping that directs water away from your house. French drains work best in areas with heavy clay soils that don’t allow for good drainage.

Choosing the Best Water Management System for Your Home

When deciding on which type of system to install, there are several factors to consider:

1) The pitch and level of your property

2) The type of soil on your property

3) The location of nearby bodies of water

4) The amount of rainfall in your area

“Are you tired of dealing with rainwater constantly seeping into your home and causing damage and frustration? Whether you choose a dry well, sump pump, daylighting, or French drain, you can effectively manage and control water with the right system.”

Our team of experts is dedicated to keeping your home safe and dry, no matter the weather. With advanced gutter systems and reliable downpipes, we guarantee you won’t have to worry about rainwater again. Plus, we offer free estimates to help you decide about your home’s needs.

Don’t let rainwater ruin your home and your mood. Contact Gutter Empire today by calling (971)777-9899 or checking out our website to learn more about our exceptional services. Trust us, and your home will thank you for