French drain maintenance

I am going to try to deal with some leaks in my basement.
This is a very old house, with tiles used for the foundation. In the back, there is what appears to have been an original foundation wall, but the house extends beyond this by eight feet. "outside" the original foundation wall there is a three foot area at the level of the basement floor, then a ledge about 18 inches high, extending to what is now the outside foundation wall. The floor and ledge are cemented, and the leaks come through the 18 inch wall on the inside of the ledge. There are perimeter drains outside the outside wall, but apparently they aren't deep enough to get all the water, so I get leaks.
My plan, such as it is, is to trench through the top of the ledge, to a depth below the bottom of the original outside wall, then put in a drain leading to a sump, and remove the water from there. I will then recement the ledge. Hooking the drain to the outside drains would be very difficult, so I will go with a sump.
I've read that drains have to be maintained, but I haven't read of just what that maintenance is. I expect that the drain would fill with silt over time, and would have to be routed. Since my drain will be under cement, would it be sufficient to put a riser on the end farthest from the sump, with a cap, so I could remove the cap and rout the drain easily. Is there anything beyond routing that would have to be done to keep the drain working?
Thanks for any advice. I've been reading this newsgroup for a number of years, and got the idea of a circulating loop in my hot water supply line here some years ago. We finally redid the far bathroom and put in the loop; the contractor had no idea what it was for, but it has worked extremely well in getting us instant hot water.
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You can buy draintile with fabric that covers them but allow water through. Drain tile if surrounded properly with gravel may never clog, it depends on your soil type and pitch of instal. I have one 80 yrs old, its fine.
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I think you will find a consensus here that the first thing you should do for basement water infiltration is to look at grading around the perimeter. Make sure you have good positive slope away from foundation and that gutters and downspouts direct water away as well. Any system that deals with water on the inside is a waste of money IMO. Even worse are systems that pipe in water from outside to inside so it can be pumped outside again are even dumber.
The best, after positive drainage and grading is a daylight system. Many lots will not accommodate this. See http://www.askthebuilder.com/175_Drying_Soggy_Soil_-_A_Simple_Trench_Drain.shtml
At my house I have a dry well and a daylight drain. If the drywell gets saturated then it overflows down hill. I have never had a drop of water in basement. All my gutters feed the drywell as well as an interior sump pump (Never kicked on, ever)
Sorry this didn't answer your maintenance question but you asked for 'any advice'
Just my 2c.
Good luck
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Draining outside water inside is not a dumb idea it is common and in fact the best environment for a pump, no freezing, easy maintenance. It is normal in older extremely well built houses and neighborhoods, even my pump is original and cycles 1-10 times a day with a probably 500 gallon pit. I could only see an exception if your area does not freeze, but most original pit pumps do double or tripple duty , exterior,interior floor-flood drain and basement plumbing all on one pump.
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No wrote:

Thanks for the information. This is an old house in a suburb build before people had cars, so there is little space between homes, and almost all of it is now covered with driveway, so there isn't a lot of space for grading. My gutters drain into a storm sewer system, so the water I'm dealing with doesn't come from the drains, but rather from standing water in the yard, which apparently infiltrates due to the very clayey soil. My first thought was to put the drain outside, but that would mean ripping out a porch, an irrigation system, and the storm sewer system (actually I planned to replace part of the storm sewer system with perforated to catch this water, but that system also carries water from the driveway drain and the garage gutters, so it isn't clear whether a drain there would remove water or add it.
I think a major contributor is the apparent addition on the back of the house (possibly original from looking at the joists in the basement), where the outside wall (and probably the storm sewer) is not as deep as the inside wall, so water that seeps under the outside wall hits the wall of the ledge, rather than passing under the floor. If that is the problem, I have to somehow intercept this water to relieve the pressure on the wall of the ledge.
If I had space, I would just have the storm sewers redone, but because of the crowded situation, that would be very expensive and inconvenient.
Incidentally, I have had a number of people come out and look at this, and no two have given the same answer as to how to fix it. They run the gamut from just digging around the foundation and adding waterproofing, to placing a drain system under the basement floor all around the perimeter. Maybe I'll just win the lottery, jack up the house, and have a new basement installed.

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wrote:

My 1921 house lot was graded backwards, with the slope running down towards the back of the house. This created a small pond next to the foundation after rainstorms. Most of the water collected over a concrete walk that had sunk about 5 inches below the soil level over the years
We had a u-shaped French drain built outside the house to collect the water, sacrificing the concrete walk and replacing it with the gravel trench holding the drain. On top we planned to eventually put large flat stepping stones, but as the years passed we just left the decorative gravel pathway and it has been perfectly satisfactory.
The U-shaped drain completely encircles the back half of the house and collects all the water running down the back yard. It carries it all towards the driveway and just dumps the runoff onto the drive about halfway down. This solves any problem of where to put the water, as it just runs down the drive and into the street gutters. The system works perfectly and has not failed in 22 years except once during Hurricane Floyd when the drain itself overflowed from sheer water volume.
Tapping into storm drains is prohibited in my town. Even cutting through the curbs is prohibited, so the driveway is the answer.
I don't know if this system would apply to your situation or not, but it's a thought.
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