difference between a French Drain and Infiltration System

What’s the difference between a French Drain and Infiltration System?

So, you’ve heard the terms ‘French Drain’ and ‘Infiltration Tank’ thrown around as if they are interchangeable and aren’t really sure if there’s a difference. The short answer is: Yes, there is a difference – while they both fulfil a similar purpose, they are unique in the way they are designed and the benefits they bring to your property. Here’s our breakdown on the differences:

French Drains

The French drain is a centuries-old system that was invented in France, as the name implies. It basically consists of a trench that is filled with gravel, rock, and landscaping textiles (these materials help control water but also prevent roots and sand from damaging or clogging the pipe). In the centre of this gravel and rock, is a long pipe with holes along its surface. Storm water is directed through this pipe and is slowly released into the surrounding grounds as it seeps out of the perforated pipe.

Infiltration Tanks

Also referred to as soakaways, infiltration tanks are underground systems, more commonly used in urban areas. Instead of using materials like gravel and rock to control excess water, the tank itself acts as the water release system. Infiltration tanks, such as the ones we manufacture, are made of perforated concrete panels. The holes in the panels are louvered – meaning they are specially angled to facilitate the gradual release of water into the surrounding environment. Multiple infiltration tanks can be joined together with pipes, to control larger volumes of water, if the property requires this.

What French Drains and Infiltration Tanks Have in Common?

They both redirect surface water and ground water away from a particular area and prevent pooling of water and flooding. They are also both useful to prevent ground and surface water from damaging building foundations.

What Are the Differences of the Two Systems?

  • With French drains, you can’t store water. However, with Infiltration tanks you can.
  • Infiltration tanks can be easily drained, but French drains cannot be drained, leading to a strain on plumbing infrastructure.
  • Less ground space is required to install an infiltration system, giving you more flexibility with placement.
  • Infiltration tanks allow a larger volume of water in much quicker than a French drain.
  • French drains cannot be easily modified to extend water flow capacity. Infiltration tanks have a modular design that allows you to add on panels as you see fit for increased holding capacity.

While French drains may work for some properties, they take much longer to setup and can be quite costly. Infiltration tanks are generally the preferred stormwater control system these days, as they are easy to install and maintain. Each property has different requirements, and the setup of your chosen system can even vary itself depending on the soil and space available.

We hope that you now confidently know the difference between a French Drain and Infiltration System. If you are unsure of what stormwater management system will work best for you, then please contact us for an onsite assessment, so that we can see what your needs are and quote you accordingly. Download our brochure for more information on our concrete tank products.

difference between a French Drain and Infiltration System

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