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Perimeter drain replacement is a common maintenance issue that comes up every 80 years or so.  If you are the owner of an older home, this big ticket item may be in your future.

In Victoria, we have a huge number of houses built in the pre-war years, in and around 1912 and all through the 1930s.  At 100 and 80 years old, these antiquated drainage systems are rapidly deteriorating and need replacement.

Luckily, new methods and materials will ensure that owners of these older homes can protect their property well into the future.  Home owner Dan Lundgren was kind enough to write about his experience, typical for a house built in 1938.

Perimeter Drain Replacement – What to Expect

By Home owner Dan Lundgren

Step #1 - Let’s have a look

I had some issues with a wet basement now and again in my older character home (1930’s) and I knew it was time to do something about it.  During very heavy rains we would get some seepage and on two occasions a broken irrigation line resulted in water in the below-grade basement.

I had Victoria Drains out to do a camera inspection which showed that the 80 year old drain tile had collapsed in a few spots and some roots had blocked some of the pipe. The Victoria Drains estimator Cary was extremely knowledgeable about what was going on and we had a chat about the options.

20th Century Drain Technology Is Not Good Enough

Cary explained that in older houses, the drain tiles were not the perforated pipes that they have now and the water was expected to seep into the ground, seep between the seams of the drain tile and slowly drain away from the house.  Oftentimes the fill material was just plain soil, so this meant that when the ground was saturated the water had nowhere to go.  More importantly, nowhere to go fast.

The drain tiles were smaller as well, sometimes only 3 inches in diameter compared to the 4 inch PVC pipes that are standard today.  A recent development in the methodology of getting water away from a house has been a doubled-up system of pipes.  Solid pipes take the rain water from your roof and deposits it directly into the storm drains while perforated pipe collects the water that seeps into the ground. It does make sense that there are better methods today than in 1939.

Repair or Replace?

While a repair to a section or two would relieve the blockages, it still left the major causes: inadequate pipes and ground that doesn’t move water well.  My wife and I were a little leery about ripping up our entire yard because we had many obstacles: a deck, fences, two staircases, an above-ground oil tank, large propane tank, a concrete walkway, raised flower beds and some mature trees and shrubs that we didn’t want to say good bye to.  However, like a new roof, this was literally the foundation of our house so for the sake of our peace of mind, our future happiness, and the eventual sale of our house, we decided to go ahead with the project.

Disaster Area

The very first thing I noticed about Victoria Drains was the care and attention that they paid to minimizing the disruption.  From the onset, they had consideration of the trees and shrubs.  They only took out the one shrub that interfered directly with the drains and they were very careful not to disturb the dozen or so other plants that could have easily been damaged by the errant excavator bucket.

Don’t get me wrong, when you are getting perimeter drains done, our yard was temporarily turned into a construction site.  Fence posts were ripped up, concrete is jackhammered and there are piles of dirt everywhere.  However, the guys were very good about such things as laying down rubber mats for the mini excavator to ride on and to pile dirt on. Later on, this meant that my grass grew back quite quickly without being chewed up by excavator tracks.

Other things that I thought would be difficult or complicated were handled quickly and professionally.  For example, they brought a spare oil tank and pumped my oil into the tank so that they could easily lift and move the tank away from the side of the house.  Then, they hooked up my oil line to the spare, primed my furnace and ensured our house could be heated. Nice touch, that. They hauled away a ton of concrete and they always made sure that the pathway to our house was clear and safe.

Clean up on aisle 5!

After all the trenches were dug the installation of pipe was done in short order and all of the inspections were taken care of without a hitch. With so many things upended and then fixed during the process, it’s natural to think some things are going to get missed.  I was very interested to see how they would restore my yard to some semblance of order and it was impressive.

Day after day they tidied up one thing after another:  excess fill was taken away, drain rock was brought in, topsoil was deposited on top and concrete was poured where needed. My fence posts were reinstalled and my fence mended. The oil tank was moved onto the new pad and the bottom stair of our staircase repaired.  There was some minor “collateral damage” to my neighbour’s lawn and they gave her a box of chocolates that perfectly said “sorry we got some dirt on your lawn".

Victoria Drains did an excellent job, I was extremely impressed.

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