Here in Toronto, installing exterior and interior weeping tile systems is a very popular option as it can effectively divert water away from your foundation. Also, improvements to the technology and installation methods have greatly increased their reliability as they traditionally had problems with getting clogged after a number of years.
So why use the term Weeping Tile? I wish somebody would embargo the term ‘weeping tile’ because perimeter drains are neither tiles, nor do they weep (in fact they do the opposite). In times gone by, they were like that though, or we wouldn’t have the term.
In case you’re curious, I’ll mention that Romans used to cover their ditches with broken roof tiles. These stopped them blocking, while allowing the rain to filter through. If you looked underneath, I guess it looked as if the tiles were weeping.
A Weeping Tile system can be installed on the exterior of your foundation or in the interior of your foundation along the perimeter of your foundation walls. Exterior Weeping Tiles will divert water away from your foundation so water never gets a chance to enter your foundation while an Interior Weeping Tile system will divert water away from after it has entered through your foundation, so this is more of a water management system rather than a true waterproofing solution.
Modern Weeping Tile Perimeter Drains
These days, perimeter drains lie at a point where underground water collects and makes a nuisance of itself. You’ll often find them at the bottom of outside basement walls, where they prevent water seeping through to the inside of your foundation. The weeping tiles are actually plastic pipes, with longitudinal slits on top designed to siphon the groundwater away.
Of course, if you just did that, then the earth would block the slits in no time at all. This is why builders wrap the pipes in ground-retaining cloth, and then cover them over with the same gravel chip you find in concrete. This belt-and-braces approach is necessary because digging up blocked perimeter drains is an expensive, time-consuming and messy business.
How to Know You Need Them
Setting hindsight aside for a moment, you’ll know you need a weeping tile-type perimeter drain if you see water seeping in through the bottom of your basement. Typically, it will come through the crack where the walls rest on the floor. If the wall shows signs of damp higher up, then you have the makings of a dam outside.
Now that you know how these things work, you know that you should have a perimeter drain installed at the bottom of your exterior basement wall before the builder fills the space with rubble. The raw materials are not expensive and are quick and easy to lay down, so insist on it.
It is absolutely essential (the strongest words that I could find) to have a plan where the groundwater goes to after you collect it. If you are lucky, conditions will allow it to soak away naturally. If not, then you must leave a pit with a sump pump at the bottom.
A good long-term waterproofing solution is to properly waterproof the exterior walls of your foundation along with installing an exterior weeping tile system.
What to Do if the System Doesn’t Work
If you find water accumulating in your basement by seeping in from outside, then either you do not have a weeping tile system, or it’s blocked. You have three options, namely:
- Put up with the problem (bad idea, this can affect your property value)
- Did up the garden and install a new perimeter drainage system
- Chip out the floor against the walls, and install weeping tiles inside the room
There are pros and cons to both options 2 and 3. In theory, option 2 is the correct one, although there may be practical considerations that prevent it. If so, then 3 is really the only way to go. You’ll have to accept the fact that you will end up with less usable space, and will also likely end up hiding your interior perimeter drain behind some paneling.
These are several ways a basement can leak and if the problem isn’t solved it can lead to major long-term damage to your foundation. A proper water drainage system is needed to help fight off basement leaks and this is sometimes a simple solution and at other times it can be a big task. Nusite Waterproofing has been providing basement waterproofing and foundation repairs services in Toronto for over 30 years. We offer a free in-home written estimate and inspection. Contact us today to schedule your estimate.