What Is Drain Tile? – Types And Properties

By Kenvin F / October 13, 2016
What Is Drain Tile? – Types And Properties

Are you annoyed by the wet basement of your house? Do you plan to build a new house or building? Or maybe you want to have a backyard garden with good irrigation. Well, you have to read this article to know what is drain tile, its uses, types, and properties.


What Is A Drain Tile?

A drain tile is a pipe which channels water away from an area. It has perforations (holes), with stone or gravel surrounding it. The water enters through the holes and runs toward the sump crock to be pumped out.

What Is Drain Tile

Via Wikipedia

The stone around the pipe enables the pipe to withstand the weight of the rocks and dirt dropping during the backfill and eases the movement of water around the pipe. The drain pipe collects the water around the basement foundation, runs it to the sump crock, and pumps it away from the house.

Although drain tile is the most common term used, it is also referred to as perforated drain, foundation drain, rubble drain, French drain, footing tile, tiling system, clay tile, and weeping tile.

Uses of Drain Tile

Drain tiles are applicable both for agricultural and construction purposes. For agricultural applications, drain tiles can be used in farm drainage and irrigation. It prevents oversaturation to enhance crop harvest and also helps in transporting water for irrigation purposes.

For construction purposes, it is effective as footing tiles around the foundation, so that the water beneath and around the basement will be drained.

Types of Drain Tiles

Interior drain tiles – Interior drain tiles can be placed above the concrete slab, within the slab edge, or under the concrete slab.

Below the concrete slab is the most common placement for drain tile systems in homes. A portion of the basement floor is removed. Waterproofing is done to direct water to the drain pipe. Then, the concrete is replaced.

The main advantage of using interior drain tiles is the ease of installation. There is no need to remove any surrounding landscape. On the other hand, there are also disadvantages. During installation, the basement cannot be used. It may also need an exterior sealant.

Exterior drain tiles – Exterior drain tiles, also known as footing drains, are usually installed during construction. Outside the foundation, the drain tile collects and redirects the water through the soil.

Exterior drain tiles require digging of the area around the foundation and rebuilding similar to a new house installation. It can be placed on top or beside the footing. All exterior drainage systems need a sump where the drain can be pumped out.

The advantages of using exterior drain tiles are: it prevents water from seeping through the basement walls, and it relieves water pressure. The disadvantages are higher cost, harder to install, and not as efficient in draining water when compared to interior drain tiles.

Properties of Drain Tiles

Drain tiles vary in the materials used, size and shape of pipes, and placement.

Principles of drain pipe – Perforations or holes are provided for the entry of water, and this facilitates drainage.

Materials used – Material used for piping is plastic (PVC, ABS) or even clay. Stone used is clean washed gravel (sized ¾ “), which gives the best water flow. Pea gravel or compacted stone may cause drainage problems due to lack of space between the stones.

Size and shape of pipes – Shape will not affect the flow of water. It may be round, cylindrical, square or rectangular in shape. The size of pipe may range from 2 inches to 18 inches in diameter.

Foundation drainage systems have a four-inch diameter. PVC drain pipes are usually 10 feet long. Corrugated (ABS) pipes come in coils of 100 to 3,000 feet.

Placement – Placement may be outside or inside the basement.

How to Prevent Clogged Drain Tiles

Clogging due to debris (like large soil particles entering the pipe) should be prevented. Some contractors use nylon filter sock as covering for the pipe to prevent debris from filling the pipe. The water that enters the pipe is redirected to the sump pump or flows away from the foundation due to gravity.

The perforations of the corrugated flexible plastic pipes are small slits allowing water to enter the pipe but hinder the entry of soil particles. The corrugated pipe can be purchased with a fabric covering to filter out debris.

The cost of the fabric or sock is justifiable considering the prevention of clogged pipes. Kraft paper or other material may be placed on top of the stone that surrounds the pipe to prevent the soil particles from entering.


What is drain tile? It is a perforated pipe which channels water away from an area. It can be used for agricultural and construction purposes. The types of drain tiles are the interior and the exterior.

There are different materials, sizes, shapes, and placement of drain tiles. To prevent clogged drain tiles, you can use a nylon filter sock or a fabric sock.

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About the author

Kenvin F

Greetings and welcome to our Home Improvement site! There are few things as rewarding and fun as working on your own home. The fact that you're here tells me you want to learn and get involved with your home too. I'm here to help you every step of the way. You can do this! Join me, won't you?

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