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A positive drain simply put is a drain to daylight.
These are typically used to avoid installing a sump pump.
In order for a positive drain to work pitch is very important. You will need enough pitch on the property for however deep the basement or foundation wall is below grade plus an additional foot to account for the footing.
Water will naturally run downhill. At the lowest point of the foundation, a hole in the foundation wall allows water to escape, hopefully to a discharge line that carries the water down and away the necessary distance from the foundation.
What we do know is that pipes clog over time. Mud, grass, and ice are all well known for clogging the drain pipes used for the discharge lines. Once those are clogged; with no escape, the groundwater will back up in your foundation or crawl space.
Once a discharge line is clogged a sump pump will be recommended.
In the past sump pumps did have a bad rap. They were unattractive and unreliable. With all the innovations over the years, neither of these are the case now.
The sump pumps now come with multiple options for the system that best suits your home's needs.
There are multiple advantages to have the sump pump system for you below-grade space that will ensure the health of your home and a long-term solution.