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What is Weeping Tile?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Weeping tile is a type of piping that is used as part of drainage systems, usually with underground drainage. These porous pipes work with formations known as aggregates to allow the collection of excess water from the surrounding ground, effectively reducing the amount of groundwater in the area.

The design of weeping tile is very simple. The porous pipe itself is usually composed of hard plastic. Along the body of the pipe, small slits are cut lengthwise into the surface. It is these slits that allow water from the ground to seep into the pipe and be directed away from the area. The pipe normally ends at some collection point, such as a storm sewer or a sump pump.

In order to prevent soil from working into the slits in the piping, it is surround by aggregate, another name for stones or rocks. A layer of rocks is placed around the pipe, effectively creating a barrier between it and the soil. Water can easily flow between the rocks and reach the slits in the tile.

The use of weeping tile helps to increase the efficiency of many different types of drainage systems. The piping helps to direct the flow of water away from the area and into the draining system proper. Once there, the water can be transported away from the area, where it can be dumped into a city sewage system or used for irrigation purposes.

When used with sump pumps, weeping tile is normally installed just below the concrete flooring in a basement. Moisture seeps through the concrete and into the aggregate, eventually making its way to the pipe and then into the sump pump. Using this approach helps to keep the moisture and humidity level in the basement from becoming uncomfortable. The tile can also help minimize the development of mildew in the enclosed space. It is especially helpful if the weather conditions have saturated the ground with water, and can prevent the need for costly repairs to the basement.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including HomeQuestionsAnswered, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon260727 — On Apr 12, 2012

Thanks, Adam. It's only common sense, which I'd sort of worked out myself and just wanted confirmation.

I installed sod above the weeping tile recently and was instructed to saturate it. Then I noticed water coming out of the drainage exit, so at least it's partially working (though it may just have worked when the pipe was full, as you said).

Instead of digging it all up, I'm going to see how the grass does. Perhaps the original upslope was fairly gentle. I was mainly concerned because it was not a downslope.

By anon260576 — On Apr 11, 2012

I am a landscaper and can answer your question for you. If the tile is running uphill, then the guy does not know what he's doing, first of all. However, the tile can still work depending on the severity of the uphill rise. For example, if using 4 inch tile, the rise from start to finish must be less than 4 inches or it will not drain at all. At a 3 inch rise, only the water in the top inch of the tile will ever drain out -- not very efficient!

Take the tile out and get it done properly. This tile will work exactly the opposite of how you want it to. It will take water from the high point and drain it towards the area you want fixed. Only when the tile is nearly full will it begin to drain the other direction.

Use a socked tile with pea gravel or sand on top of it and a layer of filter cloth, then reinstall the soil for best results and lasting work. Hope this helped. --Adam

By anon133237 — On Dec 09, 2010

I'm not sure, but it seems like the weeping tile should go completely around the outside from a single high point to a single low point. From there it should go inside the foundation through a 'T' to a short section of weeping tile into a sump pump.

Where it enters the sump should be lower than the point the 'T' connects to the short section in the footing otherwise the water won't flow through to the sump until it is higher on the one end. After that, how it connects to the sump escapes me. Whether there should be weeping tile on the inside perimeter of the foundation (as you might have seen on Holmes on Holmes) kind of boggles me.

It makes sense that it would be there as it would allow any moisture to then collect within that area (the remainder of the field should be about 3/4" crushed gravel) as the docs I've read say to slope the soil (beneath the 3/4" crushed gravel beneath the concrete) toward the sump pump. But then I would think the sump should also be surrounded by larger, washed gravel, covered perhaps with a sock (better yet on the inside and removable maybe) and really small holes for the water to enter into, but maybe only halfway down from the top of the sump pump taking into account the cement and 3/4 crush gravel depth (maybe 10 inches).

Can anyone confirm any of this?

By anon92628 — On Jun 29, 2010

The water in the sump pump, does it come from underground water springs or from watering above?

By anon70235 — On Mar 12, 2010

I was hoping someone might be able to help me answer some questions I have regarding weeping tile. I don't understand some steps to and was hoping someone could help me.

My husband and I bought a house and we know it needs new weeping tile completed on all four sides. I would like to be knowledgeable about this procedure before we do anything.

When you install the weeping tile, do you install a plastic membrane sheet as well as the dimple board?

Should you be able to take a hose and spray water at ground level after the weeping tile and membrane have been installed to make sure it is water proof? We've heard disputing things from different companies. EB

By anon41500 — On Aug 15, 2009

My house is approximately 35 years old and came equipped with a weeping tile system. Water collected through the weeping tile goes into my sewer system with a clean out/sewer back flow safety value attached to it about 2 feet inside my basement. This valve is accessible through a small opening in the concrete basement floor. What I am noticing is this area is always wet to the point you can see standing water just below the concrete when you access the valve. Is this normal? How does the weeping tile attached to this value?

By angiejoy — On Jul 19, 2009

I had the same problem but my constant bitching drove the inept wannabe handyman to walk off the job...I haven't seen him since. Anyway, now we have a trench leading away from what used to be my back door patio. We dug out the patio and its several inches below the threshold of the door. All leaking seems to have stopped anyway...lol. The trench crosses the driveway and ends at the road. His trench also runs uphill which totally baffles me. I've started digging the trench up by hand and pulling the pipe back out and digging deeper, gently sloping downwards towards the road so any water running into the pipe will be able to run downhill away from the house. This is how it should work in my mind anyway. I'd like to hear more about whether you ended up with problems down the road or if the problem is alleviated.

By madrigal — On May 11, 2009

I regret I did not come here first, but I had a "landscaper" help me install weeping tile in my backyard yesterday, and now have serious doubts about what he did. So I have some questions here...

We dug a trench, laid down quarter inch stones, inserted the tubular weeping tiles enclosed by a "sock", then covered the top with more gravel. We did not cover the gravel itself with more "sock" material as I've read is necessary.

I was worried about the slope of the pipe, as it went upwards towards the outlet. My installer told me that was not important. Made no sense to me, but left it as he was the expert. Now I'd like to check with other, perhaps more qualified, experts.

There is also no way to flush out the system, other than digging it up totally, cutting the pipe, and then hosing it. Should there be a way or is it self-maintaining?

Finally there is no slope down towards the area of the weeping tile away from my home and garage. In other words there's no significant downslope towards the weeping tile trench. Again I was assured this should create no problem, again it makes no sense to me. This guy was recommended to me by my local garden center, a place with an excellent reputation. No excuse for my stupidity, but perhaps explains it to some of you out there who won't be able to believe I was so gullible.

Can the weeping tile installation work? If not. can it be ameliorated, or does it have to be totally redone?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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