Drain Tiles

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Perimeter Drain

Victoria is city with many older homes. In years past perimeter drain systems were done differently and with a much higher level of built-in failure resulting in flooding of basements and crawl spaces. When the old clay and concrete perimeter drain tiles collapse, roots and dirt clog the drain; the basement has no drainage protection and the basement floods. Basement and floor perimeter drainage is essential for protection of your house or building foundation. Without an adequate perimeter drain, flooding and erosion problems will cause very costly repair bills and reconstruction may be required.

Pacific Group Developments has specialty equipment just for installing and repairing perimeter drains. Our team is fully trained to ensure compliance with provincial drainage requirements and the building code for perimeter drains and rain water leaders.

Wet Basement Problems

Nothing is more frustrating than dealing with a wet basement. It can damage walls and flooring and ruin irreplaceable things you are storing. But knowing the causes of wet basements and how to prevent water damage can help avoid this frustration.


  • There are four common sources of water that seeps into basements:
  • Surface water running down foundation walls
  • Groundwater in water-saturated soils being pushed into the basement by hydrostatic pressure
  • Storm sewer water from the municipal storm sewer system backing up into the home's existing perimeter foundation drain and leaking into the basement (this can only occur if the perimeter foundation drain system is connected to the municipal sewer system)
  • Sanitary sewer water from a combined municipal storm/sanitary sewer system backing up into the home's perimeter drain system, causing sewer water to come up through sink drains and floor drains on lower levels

When homeowners experience wet basements for the first time, it is imperative to determine if the water problems are going to reoccur or if it was a one-time event.

The diagram shows the modern perimeter drain. You can see why the failure of the perimeter drain have a disasterous affect on your foundation. Cracking of the foundation , basement walls or floor may be an early indicator of major problems to come. Replacing or repairing an old drain may require trenching to the level of the foundation the entire length of the foundation. Consult with Pacific Group as soon as you notice any cracking no matter how minor it seems.
Pacific Group will work with you to do the work required with as little inconvenience to you as possible. They have the right tools, the expertise and the experience to do the work on time, on budget.

Controlling surface water

If this is the first time for basement water problems, the first thing to check for is surface water draining down next to the foundations. Water coming in at one location and only at the exterior foundation wall are typical indications of surface water problems. Here are some things to look for:

1 Are the gutters overflowing because they are blocked with leaves? Keeping gutters clean of debris should be a part of every homeowner's routine maintenance program. Depending on the surrounding trees, gutter cleaning may be required a few times a year. Products are available to prevent leaves from getting into the gutters.

2 Are gutters overflowing because there are not enough downspouts on the house? If you don't mind getting wet, you can do a self-check (your gutters must be cleaned out first). After at least 15 minutes of heavy rain, check your gutters. If you see any water overflowing, you have a problem. Any water overflowing out of the gutters is running down next to the house foundations. Even if the water is not getting into the basement, it could be causing unseen problems like eroding soil from under the house footings, which can lead to cracking of walls and ceilings.

The easiest solutions to overflowing gutters are to either add another downspout on that run of gutter or to increase the size of the downspout. The best solution between these two is probably adding another downspout because the second downspout can act as a back-up if the other gets blocked.

However, if you choose to replace the existing downspout with a larger one, make sure the contractor increases the size of the corresponding hole in the gutter. It doesn't do much good to install a larger downspout if the gutter hole is left small.

3 Do the downspouts extend at least 10 feet from the home? While many homeowners do not like downspouts extending out this far, 10 feet is the minimum distance needed to discharge water coming off your roof far enough away from the house.

Be careful not to discharge downspouts too close to your neighbor's property. Most towns and cities have ordinances that prevent downspouts from discharging too close to the property line and causing water problems for neighbors. Your local building safety or inspections department can provide you with the minimum distance.

4 Do the downspouts drain into the footing tile system? It was common practice in the first half of the 20th century to have the downspouts draining into the footing tile system around the house. Vertical tiles were installed up from the footing tile system at each downspout location and the downspout was inserted into the open end of the tile. Sometimes the gaps around the downspout were mortared shut.

Having the water from the roof drain down next to the footings can add to hydrostatic pressure problems, especially if the footing tile is leaking or blocked. This can occur over time due to soil movement or damage from tree roots. If the downspouts are draining into the footing tile system, the downspouts should be modified so they drain onto the ground and discharge at least 10 feet from the house. The vertical tile should be capped with a preformed cap or concrete.

5 Are there any paved areas next to the house that slope toward the house? Sometimes paving settles over time and water flow can change direction toward the house. If this is the case, the paving should be removed and replaced so it slopes away from the home.

6 At paved areas that abut the house, is there sealant in the joint at the pavement-house wall intersection, and if so, is it cracked? Sealant sometimes cracks over time due to age or incorrect installation. If the sealant is cracked, the cracked sealant must be removed and replaced with new.

7 Is the ground around the home sloping away from the home at least 10 feet? Look for any depressions in the ground next to the home foundation walls. If any are found, fill in with dirt so the water drains away from the house. Use a clay-type soil that sheds water instead of sandy soil that allows water to soak into the ground. Make sure that at least eight inches is kept between the top of the earth and any wood or stucco on the house. If this cannot be done, the house may have been built too low and to correct it may be too expensive to be feasible.

8 Are there any hills sloping down toward the house that may be the source of the water? If this is the case, a civil engineer may be required to analyze the situation and determine the appropriate solutions.

9 Is there a lawn/shrub irrigation system discharging too much water next to the house? Avoid placing lawn irrigation next to the house. If this cannot be avoided, instruct the installer to limit the amount of water dispersed next to the house. Make sure the irrigation system includes a working rainstat so the system does not turn on when there has already been plenty of rain for the plants and lawn.

Controlling subsurface groundwater

If no surface water sources are found, then the source of the water is likely subsurface groundwater under hydrostatic pressure. Unfortunately, subsurface groundwater problems are more difficult and more expensive to fix than surface groundwater problems.

When the groundwater levels outside the basement rises above the level of the floor, the basement acts like a boat in a pond. If a boat is sitting in water, water will leak in through any open cracks or holes. It works the same way with a basement. Hydrostatic pressure can push water through hairline cracks.

Symptoms of this are water coming up through cracks in the basement concrete floor or water coming in at multiple locations.

If you have an older house within town and the house has a basement with no sump pump, it is likely the perimeter foundation drain system connects directly into the city storm sewer system. If the level of the basement is below the street level, there is the potential of storm water backing up in the city storm sewer system and being pushed into the perimeter foundation drain system. This can saturate the soils around the house at the basement level with storm water under hydrostatic pressure, causing water to leak in.

Another source of subsurface groundwater is an underground spring.

No matter where it is coming from, the best way to control subsurface groundwater is to install some type of perimeter drain system to relieve hydrostatic pressure. The groundwater is pushed into the drain system and not into areas where it can damage carpets, walls or belongings. The water drains by gravity into a sump pit where a sump pump discharges it out of the house.

There are two basic types of drain systems for wet basements. One is a perimeter above-slab gutter system installed at the base of the exterior foundation walls on top of the floor slab. It doubles as a base material for the wall. The other type of drainage system is a below slab perimeter drainage system. The below slab system requires the partial removal of the concrete floor slab and installation of drainage pipe making it more expensive than the base gutter system.

It is believed that an under-floor drainage system is better because the under-floor drains are believed to relieve the hydrostatic pressure before the water reaches the bottom of the floor slab.

Storm water backing up into your home

In many older houses with basements (mostly pre-1980), there is a perimeter foundation drain outside the exterior wall, at the level of the basement floor, next to the footings at the time the house was built. A pipe was usually installed from the perimeter foundation drain to the street where it was connected to the city storm sewer system.

This can become a problem as the city storm sewer system becomes too small when more development causes more rain runoff. When this happens, the rainwater in the sewer system can get so high that water flows backwards toward the house. The perimeter foundation drain fills with water and releases large quantities into the soil next to the footing and basement floor. The soil becomes water-logged and the water which is under hydrostatic pressure leaks into the basement.

Usually the installation of an interior perimeter basement drain system connected to a sump pump will take care of the problem. The interior perimeter basement drain system can usually pump the water out and onto the ground as fast as the water is backing up from the city storm sewer system.

If that doesn't take care of it, the other, more expensive alternative would be to dig up and cap the pipe that is running from the house to the street from the perimeter foundation drain. However, this is not always possible because many times, this pipe is also draining sanitary waste from toilets and sinks in the house.

If you believe you have this problem, contact an experienced contractor for advice.

Sanitary sewer water backing up into your home

If the water is coming up through floor drains or sink drains in the basement, then the problem is likely water backing up from the municipal sanitary sewer system. This usually occurs in older sections of some cities that have combined sanitary and storm sewer systems. During heavy rains, combined sewer systems can become overwhelmed with water. This can cause sewer water to back up in the system and sometimes into homes.

You can imagine the mess this creates for homeowners because it usually means they are getting other people's fecal waste backing up into their basement. To correct this, cities should update their sewer systems so the sanitary sewer and storm sewer are running in separate pipes. Until this work is complete, the homeowner can install backflow preventers that help stop sewer water from flowing backward into the house.

Unfortunately, because the city sanitary system works in conjunction with every house sanitary piping, the backflow preventer usually cannot be located on the house's main sewer line. It usually requires several backflow preventers at all basement drain locations, such at every floor drain, sink and toilet.

These backflow preventers require routine maintenance to make sure they are kept free of debris.

French Drain

 French drain, Curtain drain and Interceptor drain are all pretty much the same thing.  They all catch water and remove it to protect the area from excess water.  A French drain/Curtain drain may be a solution to redirect water if you have standing groundwater on your property. This can help keep water out of your foundation and eventually your  basement. While this is not a complete cure all for all  potential water problems, a French drain/Curtain drain can be a good solution if water gathers on your yard near your foundation and does not drain properly.                             

 Standing groundwater is usually a problem when grading is not constructed properly around your home. If the slope is not correct, ground water will collect near or run towards your home’s foundation. This can be detrimental in more than one way. The most obvious is that this water can infiltrate your basement causing damp conditions if not thoroughly flooding your basement at times. In addition, and usually less obvious until major damage has occurred, this water can actually undermine the integrity of your foundation walls. At this point, your whole house is in jeopardy, not just your basement.

 This is a picture of a French drain/Curtain drain being installed at the bottom of the bank to intercept run off before in gets close to the house.  The bank is quite high and the perimeter drains around the house were just not enough protection.

 Here is Jesse and Alex installing a French drain/Curtain drain to drain marshy area near the house which overflows and floods the house.Problem solved!

 Our team is knowledgeable, prompt and courteous and understands the impact of basement flooding with the expertise to correct the problem at competitive rates.

Mike Homes on Leaky Basements

 "It seems as if every other email I get is about a leaky basement. Whether it’s a concern about dampness, water due to seepage, or an actual crack in the foundation, the solution is the same: Get the excess water away from your home’s foundation. There is always water underground, either from the water table, underground stream, or just surface water percolating its way down to the aquifer. We need to make sure this water doesn’t get in.  For years homes have been built with weeping tile laid at the bottom of your foundation, next to the footings. The idea is that all ground water that seeps down to the footing from the surface — or that percolates up from sources below — will find its way into the drain tile /perimeter drain and be carried away.     The point is to take excess ground water away from your home. The system works on gravity — the drain tile/perimeter drains  slope away from your home and the water flows into the municipal storm sewer buried in the street. (Understand the storm sewer is not the same as the sanitary sewer, though in some older municipalities they are still connected.)  

 Water will always follow the path of least resistance — it’s easier to move through the drain tile / perimeter drains than through your basement’s concrete wall. But if there’s a blockage, or broken tile, the water has nowhere to go, and it will find its way into your basement. (Remember, concrete is porous-it’s like a sponge. It holds water, and will allow water to pass through.)  For years  drain tiles were made up of short lengths of clay tube, laid end to end.  Water would get into the tile through the gaps between the pieces of pipe and flow away. But lots can go wrong: Clay drain tile will crush and break over time and due to pressure. Tree roots will infiltrate the tile and either break it, or plug it. Soil movement due to frost — freeze and thaw — can shift the sections of tile so they no longer connect. Basically, old clay weeping/drain tile systems stop working properly after a few decades. These days weeping tile is basically a four inch PVC pipe perforated with holes that allows water to enter. It’s usually covered with a filter cloth or net to prevent silt and soil from filling the tube over time, which would eventually block it and make it useless. Odds are, if you have water coming into your basement your drain tile or perimeter drains might be a problem.                                                                                                                                                                

Perimeter Drain Victoria BC Here is a diagram of a typical foundation wall sitting on a footing. This diagram also shows the concrete basement floor and the upper wood floor with an outside wooden wall for the house. The perimeter drain is the circle at the bottom left, showing where it should be installed. Note how the pipe is lower than the concrete floor inside.
Clay Drain Tile Victoria BC Here is a picture of what clay drain tiles look like. These used to be installed end to end around the foundation footings. These tiles had a high failure rate, allowing dirt and roots to enter every 16" at the joints and are no longer acceptable.
Victoria BC Plugged Drain Tile This is a picture of clay drain tiles dug up from around a house. As you can see they were plugged solid with roots and dirt.
Perimeter Drain Replacement Victoria BC Here Alex has found more plugged drain tiles on another job. This is very common and needed a new system installed.
Flooding Basement Victoria BC Here is a picture of a poorly installed drainage system where the previous contractor had not correctly connected to the out flow resulting in line blockage and excess flooding.
New Drain Tile Installation Victoria BC Here is what new drain tile looks like installed around a new house along the footing. Note we installed insulation on the outside to keep the basement warmer.
New House Drainage System Victoria BC Here is a picture of a new perimeter drain installation of 4" perforated PVC. This is a new home. This owner decided to install another level of protection. If you notice the layer of dimpled plastic attached to the foundation.
Victoria BC Failed Drain Tile Here we responded to a call for flooding in the basement suite. The flooring was damaged and the tenants had to be put up in a hotel. Our inspection turned up a misaligned drainage tile. It required a hole dug by hand to determine the extent of the problem.
Dirt Getting In Clay Drain Tile Victoria BC This is a picture of a downspout leader, which brings the roof water down to the drain tile and then away from the house. This became misaligned and as a result, dirt filled and plugged the drains.
Clogged Clay Drain Tile This is what we found in the perimeter drain tiles 2 feet away from the misaligned down spout leader. The whole back of the house perimeter drainage system was as plugged as the tile in this image.
Cleaning Blocked Drain Tiles Victoria BC Here we tried to get water moving some of the mud through as we augered through the fully-blocked perimeter drain tile system.
Augering House Drains Victoria BC Here we augered the opposite end of the drain tile run, trying to loosen the dirt and allow the water/mud slurry to start flowing.
Slow Flowing Perimeter Drain Victoria BC Here we finally got water flowing again, restoring the perimeter drain tile system.
Victoria BC  PVC Clean Out Install This picture shows where the old misaligned drain tiles were, now replaced with clean-outs and a new rain water leader. These allow us to pressurize the system and use a master - blaster flushing system.
High Power Flush Victoria BC Here we're now giving the entire system a high-pressure flush at 30 gallons per second. It moves all the mud and silt through, leaving the drain tiles clean and functioning.
Victoria BC New Perimeter Drains Here we're installing a new perimeter drainage system and rain water leader system for an addition, which was built on a house. We tied into the old drain tiles upstream to pick up water from the other side of the house. We are careful to put grade on the pipe so it flushes itself as the water runs through it.
4 Inch PVC Drainage Victoria BC Here we continue around the corner with the 4" perforated perimeter footing drainage and 3" solid rain water leader both going into a 4" solid drainage pipe to discharge all the water.
Sewer Line Repair Tie In Victoria BC Here we are doing both a sewer tie-in and perimeter drain tie-in above and below a municipal water line. We had to cut into porcelain and clay pipe to install our adapters to take our 4" PVC pipe
Service Connection Drainage Victoria BC Here we're installing our PVC drains into the trench out to the city services. We are using a transit type level to insure accurate grade.
Man Hole And Culvert Victoria BC Here we're installing a storm water catch basin with galvanized steel culvert pipe.
Culvert Installation Victoria BC Here's a view looking from the concrete catch basin towards the bottom of the run. This job was done for the ministry of transportation to control subdivision ground water and road ditches.
Root Mass in Drains Victoria BC This was a great find for us today we have seen lots of roots in drain tiles but we are usually busy and forget to take pictures.This root mass was pulled out of drain tiles and shows very clearly what happens when the drains are neglected.This could have been avoided with routine maintenance.
Clogged Clay Drain Tile Victoria BC This picture shows a clay drain tile clogged with tree roots. We tried to auger, water jet and power flush through this drain tile but it was too far gone and we had to replace the drainage around the house in Victoria BC.
Broken Drain Tile Victoria BC In this picture a house perimeter drain was flowing into these pipes until the ground settled un evenly and caused the pipes to become misaligned and broken. Our water jets actually went out the bad joint and got stuck on the outside of the pipe.
Drain Tiles connected into solid pipe with clean outs Victoria BC This is a picture of a replaced drain line from the misaligned pipe picture above. Here we had to install a new line draining the drain tiles away from the house.
Damp Proofing / Water Proofing Victoria BC This picture shows Damp Proofing and how we spray on a tar emulsion with high pressure to make sure we get into every little hole and ensure a dry basement. Victoria BC has many older homes with out the proper damp proofing and as a result wet basements.
Our staff is installing rain water leader on a house. Here is a picture of our staff installing a rain water leader on an older home. This is 3 inch PVC plastic pipe with no perforations. This pipe carries away rain water from the gutters and down pipes only and substantially reduces the amount of ground water keeping the basement dry.
Picture of excavated foundation for new drain tiles. This picture shows a deep excavation to allow the installation of new perimeter drains. New tar damp proofing is first applied, then drains and drain rock. Extra care must be taken during deep excavations which takes longer. Regular maintenance will extend the life of your perimeter drains preventing this from happening to you.
Broken storm sewer pipe Victoria BC This is a picture of a broken storm sewer pipe. The joints have failed due to settling and caused a breakage and a back up.
Broken storm lateral which caused basement flooding in Duncan BC. Here is a picture of a broken storm lateral which is the pipe that carries the water from the perimeter drains. It had broke due to not being bedded properly. Subsequently roots had grown in and caused the basement to flood.
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