Basic Repairs for Moms

Steering Water to Your Drain Tile in Areas with Clay-Heavy Soil

If your house sits on a hill or you live in an area with a high water table, you may have already experienced the difficulty of keeping water out of your basement. It seeps in through cracks in the concrete of your foundation and can cause disastrous flooding during heavy rainfall. Keeping your basement dry can be especially challenging when the soil around your home is high in clay content, which is often too dense to allow water to drain properly. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to make sure your interior drain tile is up to the task of protecting your home in even the most clay-rich environments.  

Understanding Hydrostatic Pressure on Your Home

In any given location, the water table marks the depth at which water settles in the soil and is no longer absorbed. Some areas have higher water tables than others, and that level can rise after storms and flooding. If the water table reaches your foundation, it begins to exert pressure on the house as the water is pushed relentlessly into any nook and cranny it can find. Clay exacerbates this problem because of its density, meaning it absorbs less water and consequently pushes harder on your foundation and basement as the water pressure builds.

Installing an Adequate Drainage Field

Another problem with draining water through clay-heavy soils is that it can be difficult to successfully divert that water to your drain tile. Drain tiles are segments of perforated piping built into the foundations of a home, which carry unwanted water away to be absorbed by less-saturated soil. Both exterior and interior drain tiles are typically surrounded by gravel beds that allow water to pass through while hindering the progress of dirt and other debris. Homeowners building or renovating on clay-based soils should invest in a larger gravel bed to capture water that would not otherwise reach it and also consider running multiple lines to increase coverage further. 

Ensuring Sufficient Filtration

Clay poses another risk to your drain tile as well. As water seeps into the pipe, it carries with it fine particles of clay, which tend to be smaller than your average speck of dirt. This is usually not an issue, but too much dirt can clog the pipe's perforations, blocking both the entry and exit of water. Contractors account for this possibility by covering the pipe in landscaping cloth or a similar fabric, but standard filters may not be enough to stop clay sediments. If your basement is constantly damp and flooding, your existing drain tile may be clogged or simply inadequate for the needs of your home.

Consult with local home contractors through a website like to get a better idea of the problems your foundation may face due to the clay content of your soil and what adjustments you can make to fix it. 

About Me

Basic Repairs for Moms

Hi, my name is Annie Sullivan. I'm a stay-at-home mom with four kids between the ages of 1 and 7. Two of them are twins: they're 3. Let me tell you--you learn a lot as a mom that you would never expect! Not only am I chef, chauffeur, teacher, and caretaker, but I also have become an amateur repair man, plumber, and construction worker. I do more heavy lifting and repair work than I ever imagined. Do you know how many Barbies can fit down a toilet drain? It's quite surprising. Do you know how to get them out? I do. I've learned a lot of this just through trial and error--and the internet. I also had my husband teach me some tricks, since I usually can't wait until he gets home to solve the problem. Hopefully you other moms out there can learn something from this site!