If you are moving to a desert environment, then you may not think that your home will need an exterior drain tile. After all, drain tiles are meant to manage large amounts of water and deserts are known for their low level of precipitation. However, desert homes are at particularly high risk for water damage to their foundations and basements. An exterior drain tile from a site like http://www.rite-waywaterproofing.com, also known as a French drain, is an ideal way to protect your desert abode from water damage while allowing your to use the water that would harming your foundation on other parts of your property.
Caliche and Other Compacted Soil Layers
The four major deserts in the United States all have a layer of soil known as caliche, which is basically a layer of natural cement either on the surface or just beneath the surface. Even if you do not have caliche, the U.S. deserts tend to have much more hard packed soil than their neighboring regions. These layers of soil makes it particularly difficult to build, dig, or garden. They also makes it difficult for water to penetrate the surface of the ground and seep into the water table. This means that water runs along the surface longer in the desert than it would in other regions. The water will usually continue to run until it settles against a barrier, which is likely to be your home.
An exterior drain tile, dug about 4-5 feet deep and installed around your home, can create a path for water to pass through caliche and begin to absorb into the deeper layers of soil. It also gets more water off of the surface more quickly, meaning water will not rest against the side of your home, eating away at your foundation.
Although some American deserts, such as the Sonoran and Mohave, have decent rainy seasons during the winter, they all receive the majority of their rainfall during the summer. The summer rains, called monsoons, deposit a large amount of water in a brief amount of time. This, combined with the hard desert soils, often results in floods.
An exterior drain tile in the desert should include a drain and pipe that are large enough to handle the peak rain flow during a monsoon storm. Although the size of the drain you will need is dependent on your elevation, the contour of your plot of land, and the exact region you live in, any desert home that has the potential to experience light flooding should install a drain tile as a form of protection.
Minimal Usable Rainfall
The majority of the time, the American deserts do not receive enough rainfall to support non-native garden plants. While you can landscape with agave and palo verde, it can be difficult to have a flower garden or vegetable garden all year unless you supplement with tap water. Unfortunately, large cities in the deserts have taxed desert aquifers, making it the responsibility of locals to limit the amount they water their property.
Using permaculture techniques to guide water to certain areas of your property, you can support plants that require wet soil or a larger amount of watering. One technique you can use, if your land is on a slope, is to allow your exterior drain tile to drain into a rainwater pond as opposed to building a sump for your drain. This not only prevents damage to your home but allows you to use the water in beneficial ways.
When updating your home in the desert, you cannot forget about the many ways desert rain can affect buildings. To keep your home safe from water damage, you should assess whether an exterior or interior drain tile is necessary for you.