I'm wondering whether my house has a French drain to keep water away from the foundation. Is there a way to find out that doesn't involve digging up the yard? (I.e., would there be any above-ground indications?) Or do I just need to start digging and see what I find?

  • What year was your house built?
    – Dano0430
    Jul 29, 2019 at 18:23
  • 1951. I know, though, that there's been at least some work done by previous owners since then.
    – crmdgn
    Jul 30, 2019 at 11:30

2 Answers 2


To tell the truth a really good French drain install will have no evidence with the exception of the water exit point. In some cases you may see a brown stripe through the lawn but not in all climate zones. A stripe that is brown is one way to tell but not always there. It is much like a leach field in some areas they are green above the drain field and some are brown it depends on the soil and local clean mate and rain / heat.

  • Where would the water exit point be? Presumably the lowest point on the property?
    – crmdgn
    Jul 30, 2019 at 11:32
  • I have installed them on property that only had a few inches of grade. In that case I filled a pit out of 1/2” river rock this allows the water to come up there and make its way off the property.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 30, 2019 at 21:46

Search to see if there are historical aerial photos of your house. With luck, there might be a photo of the open trench, or some indication on the ground before the grass grew in.

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