GJ MacRae Foundation Repair

The Original Wetbasements Experts – Since 1975

Weeping Tile Vs French Drain: Which Is Better Suited for You?

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Written and Edited By Gavin MacRae

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Although a vital resource, water can be a nightmare for homeowners if their property and rooms are flooded. You might have heard horror stories about the water pool surrounding the ground or the basement filled with water to the point that the structure was permanently damaged. Poor drainage is the primary reason for this issue, and what can fix that is setting proper drainage solutions to protect the beauty of your home.

For people about to build their dream house or for folks looking to upgrade their drainage system by doing their legwork on the drainage solutions, we’re frequently asked whether weeping tiles are better or French drains. This article will provide all the necessary information on the weeping tile vs French drain debate, so without further ado, let’s get into it.

What is a Weeping Tile (Drain Tile)?

Weeping tiles, also called drain tiles, are porous 4-inch wide pipes with weep holes that give the illusion of the pipe weeping when draining the water away from the foundation of your property, thus the name “weeping” pipe. Henry Flagg French of Massachusetts developed the revolutionary weeping tile system to solve the clogging issue. When they were newly developed, terracotta tiles were used for drain pipes. Modern weeping tiles are made of plastic material or PVC pipe with tiny holes consistent on one side to give the weeping effect.

The weeping tiles are placed in the home’s perimeter or field to remove the underground water or prevent water from pooling on the property. The weeping tiles are fitted 8 to 10 feet below the basement, closer to the foundation footing, to stop the water from seeping into the basement and any other areas.

Weeping tiles are designed to be like a sponge that takes all the groundwater and drains it all the water away. When water builds up in the pipe, it passes on to the sump, and then the sump pumps the water. The weeping tiles are a standard waterproofing solution that also relieves hydrostatic pressure. The two types of tile systems with weeping tiles are exterior and interior.

The exterior weeping tile is installed to drain the water to the ground level so the water doesn’t enter the basement. It consists of a trench, gravel to fill the trench, and the pipe. The water is soaked into the ground, goes to the pipe, and then transported away from the house through the lines.

The interior weeping system is the preferred solution when the exterior weeping system fails to do what it’s supposed to do effectively. The system is fitted below the basement floor where a deep ditch of 12-inch deep and 12-inch wide is dug, and the pipe is placed. Interior proofing is the last defence step to prevent moisture from entering the inside of the house. It is affordable compared to the exterior weeping system.
Although the work of exterior and interior weeping tiles is just the same, and they operate similarly, the external weeping tiles are equivalent to the first line of defence that prevent water from seeping into the foundations’ wall.

Installation Process of Weeping Tile

Installing a weeping system requires extreme precision and expert workmanship. From carving out the perfect slope, and installing the pipes, to working with professional equipment, and material, a professional waterproofing company like GJ MacRa can do the work with perfection. Having said that, we’ll give you the rundown of installing the system so you know the work requirements well in advance.

External Weeping Tile

Step 1: Digging The Trench
The work starts with digging a trench in the outer area of your house. The plants, pots, and shrubs in the digging area need to be relocated to make sufficient space to place the excavated soil from the digging. A 12-inch wide trench is formed with a one-inch slope for every eight feet, which goes down to the foundation.

Step 2: Placing The Gravel
At the bottom of the trench, gravel is placed up to three inches thick. Gravel is placed to act as a natural filter that enables the water to drain effectively without clogging. It is advisable to use granite or river gravel less than an inch thick as they are sturdy and durable for prolonged use.

Step 3: Installing The Pipe
It is pretty common to use PVC pipes since they’re highly durable and easy to maintain. You can easily find these pipes with pre-drilled holes especially made for draining. Wrapping the pipe with garden fabric or covering the stones eliminated any chances of the pipe being blocked by soil and debris. For future maintenance of the system, a visible clean-out joint is recommended.

Step 4: Refilling & Covering The Trench
Once the PVC pipe is covered to prevent blockage, the trench is filled with gravel or a mixture of sand and gravel to allow water to flow easily from the surface to the pipe.

Interior Weeping Tile

Step 1: Digging The Trench in The Basement
First, professional equipment creates a hole through the cemented basement floor. The gap must be 12 inches wide and must border around the foundation of the house. Then, the concrete from digging the hole is excavated to reach the gravel. Post that, a trench one to two feet in inches is dug.

Step 2: Adding Gravel
The bottom of the trench must be filled with enough washed gravel to allow water to seep into it.

Step 3: Installing The Pipe
The next step is to add the PVC pipe with pre-drilled holes to cover the entire area and connect it to the sump pump. The pipes are then wrapped around with garden fabric to prevent them from clogging and ensure a clear passage of water.

Step 4: Refilling The Trench & Fixing The Concrete Floor
The trench is then covered with gravel and left for a day for the arrangement to settle down properly. Then, cement is poured over it, and a smooth and uniform surface is created. This then completes the installation of the basement drain tile.

Advantages of Weeping Tiles

The benefits of installing the weeping tile system are the followings:

  • Cost-effective Waterproofing: The weeping tile drainage system is an affordable solution to keep water away from your basement and protect your walls from growing moulds and chipping away. Houses that have weeping tiles installed have higher resale prices.
  • Versatility: Both existing and under-construction buildings can install the weeping tile system since the exterior and interior installation options are available.
  • Low Maintenance Waterproofing solution: During the installation phase, the pipes are wrapped with garden fabric and laid on a bed of gravel so that the pipe doesn’t get blocked with soil, weed, or any debris to ensure its longevity and prolonged use of the drainage system. Occasional inspection and cleaning suffice in this scenario.

What is a French Drain?

Now we proceed to the latter half of the drain tile vs the French drain, so let’s understand the working of the French drain. A French drain is a basement waterproofing system that uses perforated pipe laid on a trench to redirect surface water and groundwater from penetrating the house’s walls and pumping away where it does not harm the property. The French drain is a type of exterior weeping system that prevents the soil’s over-saturation.

By and large, the use of weeping tiles and French drain is predominantly the same- preventing water from entering the basements and damaging the property. However, the differentiation factor between the two is the installation of the system. The French drain system is installed on the ground level over a trench filled with gravel and rocks just below the surface to redirect the water to a septic tank drainage area to keep the property dry and flood-free. It is mandatory to conduct regular inspections and cleaning of the French drain to make them last long.

Installation Process of French Drain

Similar to the weeping system, French drain too requires professionals to do clean and precise work to protect your surroundings from the damage caused by water buildup. However, we’ve listed down the process of French drain installation to inform you of the complete installation process.

Step 1: Digging The Trench

Covering the surrounding of the property, a trench which is 1 to ½ foot deep and a foot wide is formed. For each pipe that has to be placed, a 1-inch slope is made, and the pipes are placed facing downward in the trench.

Step 2: Filling The Trench

Once the trench is dug, gravel and stones are placed at the bottom, which must be about 3 inches deep. The landscaping fabric is then laid over it to avoid the buildup of weeds, debris, clogging, or any other obstruction to disturb the smooth flow of water.

Step 3: Installing The Pipe

The grate inlet is placed at the surface of the trench when it is then connected with a pipe. The series of pipes are carefully laid with the drainage holes placed downwards and connected with one another till the drainage point.

Step 4: Refilling & Covering The Trench

Post laying the pipes over the trench, the trench is covered with gravel, and rocks, leaving a 5-inch space between the top of the gravel and the bottom surface. The gravel and pipes are covered with excess landscaping fabric. The trench can be covered entirely with soil and form a uniform area to reseed it, or it can be covered with landscaping stone.

Advantages of French Drain Tiles

The advantages of French drain tiles are listed below:

  • Easy to Install: French drains are pretty easy and effortless to install compared to weeping tiles. A professional can dig the trench, install the pipe, and fill the trench in a day or two, depending on the area of your property, if any other existing structures don’t come in the way of the drainage line.
  • Effective Water Management: French drain redirects the groundwater away from the property, stops it from penetrating the house’s walls and prevents the soil from erosion.
  • Versatility: Since French drains are installed at the exterior part of the house to flush away the water, they can be installed in yards, gardens, low-lying areas, and any other external part of the house with water buildups.

Weeping Tile vs French Drain: Which to Choose?

Now that you’re well aware of the French drain tile and weeping tiles, it boils down to the choice of drain tile vs French drain- which one should you choose? While a weeping tiles system can be installed both in the internal and external areas of a house to prevent water from entering the house, French drains are installed on the exterior part of the house to stop water from reaching the house.

Though their functionality is the same, basement weeping tiles are installed close to the foundation to prevent water seepage by reducing the hydrostatic pressure. In contrast, the French drain tiles are fitted closer to the surface to drain water from low spots and prevent the soil’s over-saturation. In addition, the price of installing the weeping system and French drain depends upon the place, required piping, and the unique needs of your surrounding and the basement space. The deciding factor between French drain vs drain tile is purely based on the architecture of the house and the needs of the homeowner.

Whether it’s weeping tiles or French drain, GJ MacRae is here to provide a complete waterproofing solution. We offer professional waterproofing service with a guarantee on all our work. Hire us, and bid goodbye to all your water leakage issues forever.


Whether it is to install weeping tile or French drain, GJ MacRa does an exceptional job of providing the best drainage solution for preserving the beauty of your basement and property. We’ve been delivering industry-leading waterproofing solutions since 1975 in the Great Toronto area, and our repeat customers and referral are a testament to our quality work. Hire us and experience remarkable waterproofing solutions at the most affordable rate

Frequently Asked Question

Where Does The Weeping Tile Drain The Water?

The weeping tile system is designed considering the safe disposal of the surface and groundwater. The pipes in the weeping tile system are connected to the storm sewer or sump pump, which is the drainage point that washes away the water.

What Is The Lifespan of Weeping Tiles?

Weeping tiles, especially PVC pipes, if installed professionally, can be effective and last for decades.

What is the Difference Between Weeping Tile And French Drain?

The weeping tile system consists of exterior and interior waterproofing solutions, but French drains only provide the exterior solution. Another differentiating factor is the installation of weeping tiles laid below the ground level, and the pies are placed on a slope, whereas french drains are fitted just below the surface.

Gavin MacRae is a professional foundation repair and basement waterproofing expert with over 20 years of experience in the field. He has extensive knowledge about foundation issues such as settlement, and cracks as well as expertise in repair techniques. Gavin is also highly skilled in basement waterproofing using interior and exterior methods. He has worked with hundreds of homeowners to provide permanent solutions to foundation and basement problems.