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Community and Q&A

PVC glue for interior French drain?

Ryan Lewis - Zone 4A | Posted in General Questions on

My contractor decided to skip the PVC glue on the pipes and fittings for our interior French drain. I think that’s silly. We are in Zone 4A, Westchester New York Area.

Is this really bad ? Should I make him redo it ?

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  1. Expert Member
    Zephyr7 | | #1

    Yes, make him glue the pipes. There is no guarantee they won’t seperate, leak, or allow sediment intrusion if you don’t glue them.


  2. Ryan Lewis - Zone 4A | | #2

    I’m definitely leaning towards asking him to do this. They have put a layer of filter fabric over all the pipes and covering the floors and exposed footings, so sediment intrusion will probably take a long time. I’m mostly concerned about them separating should someone try to clean them out.

  3. Expert Member
    Peter Yost | | #3

    HI Ryan -

    The guy I do alot of high performance building trainings with, Steve Baczek, has a great photo of a failed perimeter drainage system, failed because movement separated the unglued pipe joint in one location.


  4. Tom May | | #4

    He probably didn't glue it in case it needs to be cleaned out someday. If you want to make sure they don't come apart without having to undo everything...screw it....I mean put a screw in it.

    1. Richard McGrath | | #5

      That may very well be the lamest excuse for mediocrity that I have ever heard Tom . Grasping for answers to defend laziness or lack of knowledge as seen too often . If that's
      the case he should have glued the supposed to be watertight system and installed a functional cleanout in the proper / best location

      1. Tom May | | #10

        Well if the pipes are covered in filter fabric I would assume that these are perimeter drains using perforated pipes not rigid PVC pipes used in plumbing applications so a simple mechanical connection such as a screw should suffice. If they are the black plastic flexible type, PVC glue won't work anyway.

        1. Expert Member
          Malcolm Taylor | | #11

          I haven't seen black flexible "Big O" on a site for two decades. Does it still meet code anywhere?

    2. Expert Member
      Zephyr7 | | #6

      This is an underground drainage system, you don’t want to break through a slab and dig down to access an unglued fitting just to be able to snake a line. Also, 15 years or so from now, who is ever going to remember that fitting was left unglued, or even where it was located? Anyone saying they left it unglued so you can clean it is not doing professional work.

      The proper way to put in a cleanout is to glue in a Y somewhere and then bring a riser up to daylight with a cleanout fitting on top. If you use swept radius 90s that will make cleaning easier too.

      This is a PVC drainage system. Doing a cleanout the right way is only going to add what, $15-20 for a fitting and a bit of pipe? There is no reason to cheap out here.


  5. Andy S | | #7

    Playing Devil's advocate here, but this may not be as big a deal as it's being made out to be...
    If these are the green perforated pipes that are typically used outside and have a 4"+ overlap then no, you don't really need to glue those together and I've never seen anyone do that. The most I've seen done with those in loose soil where movement was possible is that they had a short screw or two put in to hold them together. Those pipes are designed to fit together and have an interlocking design.
    If they are the white PVC pipe that is used typically for DWV, then yeah you should glue them because the overlap is shorter and it doesn't interlock. They also don't seat fully unless you glue them or really bang on them.
    Chances are without the glue they'll still be fine since they're indoors but glueing is still best practice if they are PVC. Of course there is no real limit to how redundant and overdone you can make this as you could glue them, then put in a short screw, then tape the joints with a very expensive and hard to find European specialty tape, then wrap them, then...well you get the point. I guess your contractor thinks gluing to be in the "overdone" category.

    1. Tom May | | #13

      Andy you devil....biggest thing is we don't know what type of pipe he is using, he says "pvc" but what type and is it really, does it need to be water tight if it is full of holes, is this is a crawlspace or full basement, is it having a finished concrete floor covering it or is it to remain exposed, we do know it is an interior drain but does it go to an accessible sump inside or out, fabric covers pipe, floor and footing? etc. etc..not enough details.
      If one section got clogged up and it was exposed, I would rather undo a small screw to remove a section rather than cutting, coupling and reglue, especially if there is water present.

  6. Expert Member
    Malcolm Taylor | | #8

    Check your codes. Here, whether inside or out, they need to be glued.

  7. Expert Member
    Zephyr7 | | #9

    The only outdoor plastic PVC drain pipe that doesn’t need to be glued is the stuff with the ridged end bell with an internal gasket. I’ve never seen anyone use that for a footing drain though.

    And don’t disrespect expensive and hard to find European tapes in these parts, everyone on GBA loves that stuff ;-)


  8. Mike Theis | | #12

    Interior Drain tile for the foundation ?? in the old days it was done with end to end clay tiles simply but jointed. Around here where I am , Minnesota, with mostly full basements it would normally be done with lots of rock and and most of the time ninety 99% of the water is drained to the sump through the rock. We use corrugated slotted pipe. Is this in addition to exterior tile where it is required by code? Did he go beyond and and place it outside and inside? Maybe he already went the extra mile.

  9. Paul Kuenn | | #14

    Ryan does mention interior french drain. We usually cut through the basement slab, dig down and lay stone, then wrap 4" PVC drain pipe with holes, glue and cover with wrapping and more stone. Then finish cement slab over again. Yes with long radius 90s and clean out. You won't find basement slabs over 50 years old with stone underneath in our NE WI area. Luxury!

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