Keeping your home’s drainage system in check is a responsibility that many homeowners face, and yet, it can be a topic often overlooked until water starts backing up into the basement or the lawn becomes a waterlogged mess. The culprit, more often than not, is malfunctioning drain tiles. But what do you do when your drain tile starts to show signs of wear? Should you roll up your sleeves and tackle the problem using a DIY approach, or is it time to call in the professionals? In this article, we’ll break down common DIY fixes and pit them against professional drain tile maintenance. We will help you make an informed decision when it comes to safeguarding your property against water damage and maintaining a healthy home environment.

What are Drain Tiles and Why Should I Maintain Them?

First, it’s essential to understand what drain tiles are and why maintaining it is critical. Drain tiles are a type of drainage system installed around the foundation of a building to manage excess water and prevent water damage. These systems typically consist of a perforated pipe, such as corrugated plastic or clay tile, buried in a bed of gravel or rock.

The primary purpose of drain tiles is to redirect groundwater away from structures or areas where excess water accumulation could lead to problems such as basement flooding, soil erosion, or foundation damage. Here’s how they work:

  1. Water Collection: The perforated pipe in the drain tile system allows water to enter from the surrounding soil.
  1. Transportation: The collected water then flows through the pipe, which is typically installed at a slight slope away from the building or problem area.
  1. Drainage: The water is transported to a designated outlet point, where it can safely disperse, such as a storm drain or a designated drainage area.

Drain tile maintenance is essential for several reasons:

  • Preventing Water Damage: Regular drain tile maintenance helps ensure that the drain tiles remain effective in redirecting water away from the foundation, preventing water damage to basements or crawl spaces.
  • Preventing Clogs: Over time, drain tiles can accumulate silt, debris, or roots that may obstruct the perforations in the pipe. Regular drain tile maintenance involves cleaning and clearing these obstructions to maintain proper drainage.
  • Extending Lifespan: Regular inspections and drain tile maintenance can identify and address issues early, helping to extend the lifespan of the drain tile system.

DIY Drain Tile Maintenance

1. Clearing Debris

One of the most common issues affecting drain tile is the buildup of debris around the inlet. The ingress of earth, leaves, and even small roots can clog the openings and restrict water flow. The DIY drain tile maintenance solution involves using a garden hose to flush out debris. This approach works best when there is no significant obstruction in the line and can be done quickly and inexpensively.

2. Checking for Leaks

Spotting leaks in your drain tile can be challenging but crucial. DIY enthusiasts often resort to pressure testing their drain tile system using a garden hose with a pressure gauge and sealing off pipe sections. This method can help identify leaks, but it’s not always reliable and may require multiple attempts.

3. Repairing Cracks

You can repair small cracks in drain tiles with a waterproof sealant or epoxy repair kit available at hardware stores. This drain tile maintenance method is a temporary fix but can buy you time before professional intervention is necessary. However, it’s essential to note that this DIY drain tile maintenance approach may not be sufficient for larger or more severe cracks.

4. Improving Drainage

To improve the efficiency of your drain tile, you can extend downspouts and sump pump discharges further away from the foundation. A longer extension ensures water is carried far enough to prevent it seeping back into the soil near the house. This quick and easy DIY drain tile maintenance solution can help prevent water from pooling near the foundation. This ultimately reducing the risk of water damage.

5. Preventative Measures

You can protect drain tiles from root intrusion and silt buildup by installing a layer of fabric or a filter in the trench before laying the pipe. Regularly inspect these areas and make sure the filter remains intact. In addition, it’s crucial to ensure that your gutters are clear of debris and functioning correctly to prevent excess water from entering the drain tile system.

Professional Drain Tile Maintenance

1. Professional Inspection

Professionals employ high-definition cameras to inspect your drain tile system. They can identify blockages, leaks, and the overall condition of your pipe network without excavation. This drain tile maintenance method is non-invasive and allows for targeted repairs, saving you time and money.

2. Drain Tile Replacement

If your drain tile system is old, damaged beyond repair, or is made from outdated materials such as clay, a full replacement may be the most effective solution. A professional drain tile maintenance company can excavate around the foundation and replace the entire drainage system with quality materials equipped for long-term water management. This option not only improves drainage but also adds value to your property.

3. Waterproofing Services

Waterproofing specialists offer a variety of techniques to keep water out of your basement. From applying sealants to the exterior foundation to installing interior drainage systems, these all work hand-in-hand with your drain tile. They can also provide preventative drain tile maintenance plans. Drain tile maintenance plans protect your foundation and basement from water damage in the long run.

4. Advanced Drainage System Installation

In areas of high-water tables or significant surface water, a drain tile maintenance professional can install complex, deep-drainage systems with multiple drains and backup systems that are beyond the capacity of a typical DIY project. These systems are designed to handle large volumes of water and protect your home from flooding.

5. Long-term Drain Tile Maintenance Plans

Professionals can set up a long-term drain tile maintenance schedule that may include annual inspections. Annual inspections are designed to catch problems before they become emergencies. They can also offer helpful tips for homeowners to keep their drainage systems in top condition. These tips can include things like regular gutter cleaning and diverting downspouts away from the foundation.


When weighing DIY versus professional drain tile maintenance, you should consider factors such as cost, effectiveness, and long-term management.

Cost – DIY fixes can be cost-effective, only necessitating basic tools and materials. Professionals, on the other hand, can provide higher efficiency for a higher cost.

Effectiveness – Professional expertise generally trumps a homeowner’s limited skill set, leading to more comprehensive solutions with better long-term performance.

Long-term Benefits – While a DIY job might seem sufficient at first, professional repairs and installations often come with warranties and overall peace of mind.


It is clear that both DIY and professional drain tile maintenance have their place in the homeowner’s toolkit. By being proactive and addressing small issues as they arise, you can potentially ward off much larger, more costly challenges in the future. Yet there are instances where the complexity or urgency of the situation demands professional attention.

Managing water is an ongoing task that needs regular attention and care. The best way to keep your drain tile system in top shape is by combining do-it-yourself solutions with professional expertise. For a free quote, contact South Island Drain Tile and ensure your water management is in good hands.


What is the cost of drain tile maintenance?

The cost of drain tile maintenance can vary depending on the complexity and severity of the issues. For accurate pricing tailored to your specific needs, it’s highly advisable to seek a professional assessment. Connect with us for a free quote, ensuring you receive precise information about the maintenance costs relevant to your situation.

Is it necessary to waterproof my basement in addition to having a drain tile system?

While a drain tile system is effective in managing water, adding a waterproofing layer to your basement provides an additional safeguard against moisture. Experts often recommend thorough water management for an additional level of protection, keeping your basement dry and secure.

What should I do if I suspect a leak in my drain tile system?

Immediate action is crucial. If you suspect a leak in your drain tile system, don’t delay – contact a professional promptly. Ignoring potential leaks can result in more extensive damage to your property. By seeking professional assistance, you can address the issue promptly and prevent further complications, ensuring its longevity and effectiveness.