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How Does an Exterior Weeping Tile System Work?

When contractors dig out for a basement, they inevitably remove more earth than is strictly necessary. This could be because the soil is unstable and they do not want it to collapse against a “raw wall”. It’s usually also to make space for a weeping tile system that can help keep the basement dry forever.

When they’re done, builders backfill the space with the soil they dug out previously. Strictly speaking, they should tamp it down as the wall builds up to ground level – and then cover over it with a sloping hard-standing to lead the water away. Less diligent ones simply pour in barrow-loads of loose soil at the end of the job, tidy up, request payment and go.

weeping tiles installed on exterior foundation in Toronto home

Water inevitably finds its way down into the ground to reach the outside of a basement wall, no matter what a homeowner tries to do. If it’s not percolating down through the backfill, then it’s seeping between the strata towards it anyway. When that happens, you have only two defenses:

 

  • A solid, crack-free, fully waterproofed intact structure comprising walls, floor and sometimes concrete ceiling.

 

  • A set of weeping tiles installed all around the outside of the foundation, to lead ground water away before it causes damage.

 

Weeping tiles are an essential belt-and-braces feature of any well-designed basement. That’s because earth expands, shifts and contracts, and inevitably challenges the structure’s own defenses.

installing exterior weeping tile in Toronto home

How Weeping Tiles Work

Don’t be confused by the term “weeping tile”. Weeping tiles are not tiles at all (although they were once perforated pipes made from clay). A long time ago our ancestors may have covered underground drainage ditches with roof-tiles that kept the earth out, but allowed the groundwater to permeate through. Nobody seems to know for sure whether this is true.

These days, weeping tiles (that’s what the trade still calls them) are made from 4” diameter plastic pipe regularly punched with holes. The idea being that ground water will find its way into them through the holes, and then follow a gentle incline until it discharges naturally (or enters a sump for pumping out).

Before the plastic pipes are buried, they are covered with a long open “sock” or overlapping socks made from rot-proof permeable material. This prevents the earth from clogging up the holes, much in the same way as the original weeping tiles may have kept the underground ditches clear.

 

Weeping Tile Problems

The first possibility is that the long, open socks (or holes in old clay pipes) become clogged. These days, this can largely be avoided by covering the pipes with fine gravel. Unfortunately, when they do clog there’s little option but to dig them up and lay in new ones.  If installed properly, an exterior weeping tile system should work fine for many years.

 

 

 

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NuSite Group is a Toronto based basement waterproofing and foundation repair company that specializes in Basement Waterproofing, Basement Lowering, and Foundation Repairs. Call us today at 416-622-7000 or 905-731-1228 for a free in-home estimate and inspection.

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