Pooled water under home raises red flag

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Q:I just purchased a home and have noticed that I have a major problem under the house. Water is pooling up and making it a muddy mess. There are even mushrooms growing there. My first inclination would be to install a French drain, but I want to talk with an engineer before I do that. Do you have any recommendations for plumbing engineers, someone who can tell me how they would install a drainage system? A: Installing a French drain is a lot of work and a lot of expense, especially if you hire someone to do the work. A French drain requires digging a trench around the house, lining the trench with plastic, placing perforated drainpipe in the trench and backfilling the whole shebang. Imagine digging a 3-foot-deep trench around the entire perimeter of even an average home. That's a lot of dirt to move. There may be less drastic alternatives that will produce a satisfactory result. Your instinct to seek professional advice is right. Spending a few dollars to get an expert opinion is ofte...