With global warming accelerating and severe weather events increasing, flooding problems are becoming a common issue in homes. The problem is not relegated to commercial buildings. Condominiums, single-family homes, and even apartments can experience flood damage.

The best defense against flooding is to slow and control water flow on your property. Installing a dry well or French drain system is one of the most effective ways of managing water that flows onto your property. Before starting a project, it’s important to understand the differences between a dry well vs French drain.

What is a Dry Well?

A dry well is typically a hole in the ground lined with gravel with a drain pipe leading into it. Water collects in the dry well and then drains out through the pipe.

What is a French Drain?

A French drain is a pipe installed underground to allow water to drain from an area. French drains are also gravel-lined trenches, but they have a porous pipe running through the middle of the gravel. Water seeps into the French drain through the perforated pipe and flows out to the sides of the trench.

Functional Differences

Dry wells and French drains are two popular methods used to manage water runoff and seepage. Dry wells are typically used to collect and store water runoff from roofs and other impervious surfaces. The water is then slowly released into the ground, where it can percolate back into the water table.

French drains, on the other hand, control water already present in the ground. They are often used to manage groundwater seepage or to redirect water from areas where it might cause problems, such as foundation damage.

So, which is better for managing water runoff and seepage? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The best method depends on the specific circumstances and needs of the site.

Environmental Concerns

There are a few different environmental concerns that you should keep in mind when choosing between a dry well and a French drain. First, a dry well can help reduce the amount of water that runs off your property and into the sewer system.

This can help to reduce the amount of pollution that ends up in our waterways. However, a French drain can be more effective at filtering out pollutants before they have a chance to enter the water supply.

Dry wells may lead to groundwater contamination which includes drinking water. However, if the stormwater or wastewater that a dry well collects and disperses into the soil is uncontaminated and if the appropriate pretreatment is applied, the US EPA designates the dry well as safe.

Percolation Tests

Percolation tests are used to determine the rate at which water seeps into the ground, which is vital in determining the feasibility of a dry well. This is due to the reason that dry wells are meant to distribute the water into the soil to prevent flooding from taking place.

But the soil’s absorptivity differs across the many types of soil. For instance, clay has a lower absorptivity and can cause a soggy yard when you install a dry well there.

For a French drain, a percolation test is unnecessary because there is no distribution of water underground that happens in the process. French drains are less likely to fail than dry wells, but both have the potential to fail if not installed correctly or if the ground around them shifts. This is why for a dry well or French drain installation guide, you only need to trust the experts to ensure that the job is done perfectly.

Prevention vs Curative

French drains are installed to prevent water from pooling in an area, whereas dry wells are installed to curatively collect and redirect water that has already pooled. An already flooded yard’s additional surface water cannot be absorbed by a dry well. Instead, it often gathers drainage system runoff water.

This means that the dry well is able to help prevent getting that swampy yard that could take place if the water from those drainage pipes went straight to the yard. On the other hand, the French drain collects surface water from a large area and directs it to a single place. French drains are excellent for ridding of floods within or outside the house.

The Installation Cost

A dry well is a cheaper and easier option to install, but it does not work as well in preventing water from entering your basement. A French drain is more expensive to install, but it is more effective in preventing water from entering your basement.

French drains are built to last and are very reliable. On the other hand, dry wells can collapse and cause serious damage.

Maintenance Requirement

Dry wells require less maintenance than French drains. However, they are not as effective in preventing flooding and may need to be replaced more often.

French drains are more expensive to install but are more effective in preventing flooding. They require more maintenance than dry wells, as they must be regularly checked for clogs and leaks.

Have You Made Your Decision Between Dry Well vs French Drain?

If you are having issues with water drainage on your property, you may be debating whether to install a dry well or a French drain. Both have pros and cons, so it is essential to consult a professional to decide which is the best option for your needs.

Talking about the installation cost of dry well vs French drain. In general, a dry well is less expensive and easier to install, but a French drain may be more effective in certain situations. So it is best that you weigh out the options to get the right solution for your needs.

For more tips and tricks, be sure to check out the rest of our blog to learn more.

By Manali