Skip to Content
chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up chevron-right chevron-left arrow-back star phone quote checkbox-checked search wrench info shield play connection mobile coin-dollar spoon-knife ticket pushpin location gift fire feed bubbles home heart calendar price-tag credit-card clock envelop facebook instagram twitter youtube pinterest yelp google reddit linkedin envelope bbb pinterest homeadvisor angies

Exterior Drain Tile Systems

Exterior drain tile systems, also known as footing drains, are usually installed during initial construction of the home. Most are also combined with some type of membrane that is applied to the exterior of the foundation walls that protects them and helps the water reach the drain tile. The drain tile acts as a collection system for subsurface water that moves down the foundation walls through the soil, it then brings the water to an interior sump pit where the sump pump turns on and pumps the water away from the home. Despite its high cost, installing an exterior drain tile system on an existing building is the most effective way to control water and protect the foundation.

While every basement and install project is different Reliable Basement Services generally follows a similar procedure:

  1. Excavating the area around the foundation all the way down to the footing (height and width of excavation will vary depending on the property)
  2. Waterproofing the foundation with a liquid membrane & sheet membrane
  3. Installing perforated PVC pipes pitched towards a sump pit or other drain outlet
  4. Backfilling 12″ around the pipe with gravel
  5. Replacing and compacting the majority of the soil


When Reliable Basement Services is installing an exterior drain tile system, we first remove shrubs and other obstacles around your house. This may involve removing sidewalks, concrete stoops, decks, and other structures attached to the home. We must drain the exterior drainage system to a sump pit that can be pumped out.

Closeup view of drainage tile for a sump pump under the concrete footing of a house foundation.

Waterproofing From the Outside

It isn’t always practical to waterproof a basement from the inside if you already have a finished basement, especially if you have expensive finishes and built-in amenities. That makes an exterior drain tile system your best option. We start the process by excavating a trench next to the foundation wall all the way down to the footing. Next, we apply a liquid coating directly to the foundation and then install a rubberized waterproof membrane that adheres to the liquid coating, then we cover it all with a dimpled sheet that allows water to make it to the drain tile. We install PVC drain tile that will drain into a sump pump pit . We backfill with 12 inches of washed gravel. By using a filter sock around the pipe, we prevent dirt from clogging the exterior drain tile and then backfilling with the existing soil. If it’s necessary, we can remove concrete or asphalt driveways, walkways, or patios. In most installations, we excavate by hand to reduce damage to your landscape. We always leave an acceptable grade tapering the soil away from the foundation.

Interior Vs. Exterior

With most decisions there are pro’s and con’s to either side. The same is true when debating interior and exterior drain tile systems, each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. Some of these are highlighted below:


    • Pros
      • Cost effective
      • Shorter project timeline
      • Less disruptive than exterior
      • Lifetime transferrable warranty
    • Cons
      • Requires interior build back
      • Water still touches the foundation wall (Collection, not prevention)
      • Jackhammer noise while removing concrete


    • Pros
      • Water will never touch foundation wall (Prevention and Collection)
      • Interior of home is undisturbed
      • Less noise
      • Can help with other yard drainage issues
    • Cons
      • More expensive than Interior
      • Excavation requires everything around the house to be cleared away
      • May be restricted by other structures (i.e. garages, porches, decks, sheds etc.)
      • Longer time to complete project

Exterior Drain Tile Installation Takes as Little as Three Days

We Also Offer a 5-Year Warranty on Every Exterior Drain System We Install

What Are You Waiting For?
Schedule Your Free Inspection Today!