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French Drain vs. Catch basin or both??

Posted by ajfitzer 6 (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 30, 10 at 14:51

I have read MANY great posts on here over the years, and I am now prepared to share my issue. We have a lot here in NJ 50 wide by 175 deep. Towards our rear yard facing the left side we get a pooling of water during really bad rain storms. Apparently they had a small creek run through portions of the area over 100 years ago. We get run off from the house behind our neighbors, and it gets bad in heavy rain. The previous owners dealt with it by putting a french drain in the rear yard, tied to a catch basin, which goes down a 4 inch heavy pvc pipe down to the street. The house downspouts on that side are also tied in to this drainage system.

However, about two years ago I put in another small catch basin in an area by my fence I noticed pooled up pretty heavily during bad storms. Rather than run a new line to the street, I had it tied into that other line on he other side of my yard.

In our most recent heavy storm about a month ago that small catch drain did very little to stop the initial pooling. Once the rain subsided it did ok, but certainly could not handle the water in question.

My question is twofold:

1: Do I go french drain to replace the small catch basin and run a BRAND NEW line down to the street? This is probably my most expensive option.

2: Does it make sense to look at how it is currently tied in to the existing system and see if perhaps that is the issue?

3: The French drain that comes off my LARGE catch basin does not seem to be doing anything to help. Granted it is NOT in the area where the water pooled previously, so maybe it is working to prevent that area from flooding. I am not sure.

Anyway, please take a look at the pictures I marked up here to give you an idea and let me know what you think is my best bet. Please keep in mind I cannot go down the side of the house where the small drain is as it is ALL driveway which I do not want to chop up.



Here is a link that might be useful: Backyard album

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: French Drain vs. Catch basin or both??


A couple of question before a meaningful discussion can commence.

Are you the low lot in the area? Does water stand in your neighbor's yards as much as yours?
Does water come into your backyard from all the neighbors yards or just on side?
How long does it take to drain the water from your back yard?
Does most of the drainage happen across your lawn by the sides of your house to the street or into the catch basins?
How often does this happen?
Does the water stay close to your house foundation or drain away when the water subsides?
There are many things you can do or maybe none at all. There have been some good threads in this forum similar to yours in the last few weeks. Aloha

RE: French Drain vs. Catch basin or both??

I think what the man is saying aj is that although there was that old story about the little boy stemming a dyke with his finger, size of hole and finger are important to know. Best to have a local boy have a look.

RE: French Drain vs. Catch basin or both??

Thanks for the responses. Here is some more info and I am going to try and draw this out after as well.

We are not the low lot. However, a part of our neighbors yard and are yard share a point where the water collects (just by the fence on the left side). It actually comes from the house DIRECTLY BEHIND MY NEIGHBOR who has a low point that slopes in our direction. It only happens on the left side where we put the small catch basin.

When we get heavy heavy rain, 5-7 inches over 12 hours or so, the drain simply cannot keep up with it. It starts to pool and get bigger and bigger as you see in the pics. This has happened about 5 times in the 5 years we have lived here. That was the reason why I put in the small catch basin there.

The issue is when it pools up badly back there, it eventually gets to the patio area by the house. That has led me to have to raise up a door there in order to prevent any water from coming over it into the basement. That has only happened 2 times, and NOT ONCE since we raised the door.

Once the rain lets up, the small catch basin seems to catch up eventually, and the area on my side of the fence drains out. The side with the LARGE catch basin is a little higher and further away from that point. I have never seen it pool up there much if at all.

RE: French Drain vs. Catch basin or both??

I also got my first estimate to do the work I am suggesting. Please take a look and let me know what you think. I thought it seemed very high, and I said as such. The materials themselves should not cost more than $350 for the Sch 40:

To install a ten-foot French drain along side fence with one open drain. Connect drain to 4” pipe. Run drain out across rear yard around side and out to street 144’.

To use schedule 20………..$2,760

To use schedule 40…….….$3,212

RE: French Drain vs. Catch basin or both??


When you say a french drain are you talking about an enclosed gravel ditch with a collection pipe(w/ filter sleeve) in the gravel to help collect water running through the soil. I believe you have described just a drainage system using a series of pipes buried underground connected to catch basins that collects surface water and routes to the street? The capacity of your drainage system will be based on gravity flow for the size of the last segment of pipe in your system(4"). You are designing your system for a large once a year flood, you will need large pipes(just a guess). If the pipe going to the street is 4 inches, it is not large enough and when you increase the flow by connecting another pipe to it, it is even more, so not big enough. Three things you could do, others may fine tune this, when you do your sketch is: 1) create a good sized open ditch that runs along the flooded side of your property(probably need a permit for construction). This ditch could be lined with grass, pavers or wire mesh and slurry concrete. The end of the ditch can flatten out and run under the sidewalk in place of the curb(City's have details for this outlet type) 2) Increase the size of the pipe from your connection point to the street to 8" and your other lines to 6". Also get as much downhill slope on the pipes as you can. 3) Just increase the last leg of your drainage system to 6" or 8" and just live with some flooding(less than before) once every year.

Describe how many linear feet of french drain and pipe for the estimate.
Describe what he will do to complete his work.
Ask the contractor to itemize the work steps and associated costs for each step.
Ask three contractors to give you cost proposals.
JMHO Aloha

RE: French Drain vs. Catch basin or both??

Also, you mention your belief that at least some of the water pooling in your yard is coming from a drainage system of one of your neighbors. Does your city allow this? Most (maybe all) cities will allow passive run-off, but many will not let you devise a drainage system that dumps your water onto someone else's property. So you might be able to convince your city inspector to apply some pressure on your neighbor, which is only fair. That might solve much of the problem, and not at your expense.

It's hard to tell from the pics, but are your neighbors yards holding just as much water as yours is?

How old are the houses there? Were they all built by the same builder? Seems to me like the soil conditions and drainage factors might not have been fully considered, when the houses were built.

RE: French Drain vs. Catch basin both

One more thing--how old is the french drain? Many block up, either from improper installation, or just because they can, after just a couple of years. It may not be working at all. That's the problem with such a system--you have to dig it up to prove it isn't blocked, unless you have easy access to their destination and can check for proper outflow.

RE: French Drain vs. Catch basin or both??


Yes, enclosed gravel with collection pipe, filter, holes facing down. I think the problem I am having with the catch basin that I put in is that I tied it into another system that already had a french drain and several downspouts from the house. That is 4 inches. The one I tied in is probably just too much for that system to handle.

As of now I am pretty sure that a separate line for this smaller catch basin at 4 inches should do the trick. My town will not allow me to dig the ditch you propose, nor run a line that wide.

The run we is 144 linear feet. I am currently getting other estimates than the one posted and will be sure to make sure he itimizes the work.

The water pooling in my yard is simply due to slope of a neighbors yard and NOT a drainage system. This area is old, and the homes here were built 85 years ago. The neighbor who I think has the most pooling gets a small pond in the rear of her yard when this happens. However it is behind her garage and in an area she does not care about. Also, she is a older woman on her own and cannot deal with the issue. The soil is pretty thick around there, so it could be a combination of that and the slope.

The french drain running off the other system has got to be at least 10 years old. I have no clue if it works, but I can see it coming out of the LARGE catch basin in the back. I don't want to mess with that system because it works. I think running a separate line with a larger catch basin, versus a french drain might be my best bet. Let's hope I get some reasonable quotes.


RE: French Drain vs. Catch basin or both??


Would the Town allow you to put in two 4" pipes side by side? That also helps if you have too little slope. Maybe one for downspouts on for the catch basin. Good Luck. Aloha

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