Strata French Drain Maintenance in the Fraser Valley

Offering reliable landscaping services to homeowners in British Columbia since 2013

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Natasha Maerz

Owner/Office Manager

While having a French Drain system installed in your strata complex is a blessing, they do require maintenance, and some systems require more than others.

Table of Contents:

  • Maintenance vs. Lifespan of your French Drain System
  • Maintenance of a Strata French Drain system; Annual, 5, 10 years
  • Annual maintenance of your Townhouse or Condo French Drain system
  • 5-year maintenance of your Townhouse or Condo French Drain system
  • 10-year maintenance of your French drain System





Maintenance vs. Lifespan of your French Drain System

It can be easy to assume that the lifespan of your French Drain system is going to depend on how much the system is maintained. While maintaining a system will allow it to last longer than an unmaintained system, eventually things need to be replaced. When choosing which type of French Drain system you are having installed, keep in mind that each one is going to need to be maintained differently, and that the materials, and methods used to instal the drain are going to be what determines its lifespan.

Maintenance of a Strata French Drain system; Annual, 5, 10 years

Annual maintenance of your Townhouse or Condo French Drain system

Healthy Lawn maintenance for good drainage

Healthy grass is a step that is often overlooked when it comes to installing a French Drain. Healthy grass roots, plants and vegetation are what help the water pass through the clay soil in your yard and into your system. Without an abundance of roots penetrating deep into the clay soil water will sit on top of the lawn regardless of any system that is put in. The roots from your lawn, and plants play a vital role in allowing this water to follow the roots deep underground and into your French Drain.

Annual lawn maintenance will allow your French Drain to continue to work optimally. Annual maintenance for a healthy lawn includes Fertilizing, moss and weed control, aerating, and seeding. (For an in-depth lawn care program click here).

Keep in mind that there are things that need to be done each week that will ensure that you lawn is in tip top shape, like mowing, raking leaves, and watering.


Keeping an open French Drain clean

An open French Drain is a French Drain with no fabric or sod on top, just a layer of round river rock. The reason a townhouse or condo complex would choose to install an open French drain is that it can drain water faster than it can accumulate. The downside to this type of drain is that because it is open, any leaves or dirt and debris will clog up the round rock. Even if an open French Drain system is installed in an area that has little to no trees and bushes (which should be the only time one is recommended), the system should be periodically checked throughout the year to see if it is still working.

French drain sump basin pump annual service

If your system has sump basin pump, it is important to stay on top of its maintenance so that it is working and ready for when you need it. The last thing you want to be doing during a big storm is trying to fix it. Sump pumps often spend long periods of time idle (ex. Summer when there is no rain fall) and operate intermittently when the water rises and fills up the concrete basin. This wear and tear on the system is why pumps burn out, which is why annual maintenance on your sump pump will ensure that it is working at all times. This annual sump pump maintenance includes examining the pump for any rust or corrosion, cleaning the inlet screen and sump basin, and making sure the discharge pipe is free of dirt.

Surface mounted Drainage grate

In some cases, homeowners may want to Install a grate over top of the fabric in the French Drain instead of grass. While this will allow water to get into your system quick, the drain can get clogged very easily. Every month or so (depending on weather and how much vegetation is around the area) the grate should be checked to ensure that there is nothing blocking it. This can be a task that is added to a lawn care companies to do list for their monthly clean-up of your strata complex.



Drainage pipe clean-out in French Drain systems without filter fabric (Big-O drainage pipe)

The reason French Drain systems are usually installed with filter fabric is because filter fabric protects drainage pipe from getting dirt and debris into the pipe. If your system was installed without filter fabric, you will have dirt accumulate and compact in your drainage pipe. This dirt is a problem because it stops the water from flowing freely in the pipe. To clean out Big-O drainage pipe, a company will need to be called in. This will need to get done yearly, because dirt and debris will always be able to enter the drainage pipe and accumulate.

5-year maintenance of your Townhouse or Condo French Drain system

Sediment in the pipe of your French Drain System (perforated PVC drainage pipe only)

Perforated PVC drainage pipe is smooth walled, but this doesn’t mean that debris won’t fill up inside of it. Smooth walled PVC pipe actually allows debris to build up inside because the gentle smooth flowing water does not have the power to disrupt the debris, and it can settle in the bottom or along the inside of corners. This means that your pipe will need to be cleaned out at least every 5 years by having a company come in and clear it out.


Drainage pipe root cutting (perforated PVC pipe only)

Another drawback to using perforated PVC pipe is that there will always be standing water in your French Drain system. Because it only has holes on the bottom, it needs to be installed on top of 2-4” of gravel, and you will always have standing water in the gravel just below the pipe. This water will attract tree roots that will find their way into the pipe. As the roots begin to clog up the pipe, they will need to be cleaned out by a jetting machine. This jetting machine can remove the roots from inside the pipe, but will not be able to completely rid the pipe of them. Days/months later the roots will have regrown inside of the pipe again. Therefore, this cleaning and regrowing will continue indefinitely.

French drain sump basin pump major service

Since sump pumps go through a lot of wear and tear, they should be serviced every 5 years so that they are doing its job to the fullest, and protecting your home in the case of a large weather event.  After ensuring the sump pump is in working order (checking the float, testing the valves) and that it does not need to be replaced, the basin that the sump is in needs to be inspected/ cleaned. Debris in the basin is a major cause of pump issues, as it can block the pump and prevent it from taking in any water. Make sure to remove any loose debris that is in the pit, and test that everything is working properly.


10-year maintenance of your French drain System

Sediment in your sump basin of your French drain system

If your system has lasted this long, there is a good chance that your sump basin is filled with debris. Sump pumps can become clogged overtime due to buildup of particles and other debris in the basin.

To clean your sump basin, remove your pump before doing anything. Next, check the entry and exit of your concrete basin for anything that could be clogging it. Look at the bottom of your sump pump and shovel or shopvac out any sediment that may be at the bottom of the pump. You want to be able to put your pump on a clean area so that it will not clog up the moment you put it back in the basin.

New French drain sump basin pump

Even the highest quality sump basin pumps need to be replaced eventually. If your budget allows, it could be helpful to buy two quality pumps so that you always have one on standby. You truly never know when a pump will fail and need to be replaced.


How much maintenance you do on your French Drain system comes down to the fabric, pipe, and type of backfill that is used in installing your French Drain.  Consider having a system installed that will not only last your strata complex a long time, but that has limited maintenance that needs to be done on it.


Ready to solve your strata’s drainage issues? Contact us today!