Home Drainage Systems: How to Get Started


If your home is constantly flooded or has puddles of standing water after even a little rain, underground drainage pipes or catch basins may be a good investment. In this piece, we will discuss a few of the alternatives available to homeowners.

Water conditions may result from an overflowing neighboring brook or stream or from heavy clay soil that prevents water from penetrating and seeping into the earth below. How long does it take for the water to evaporate, days or weeks? There is no comparison between the two scenarios. Water that pools and disappears on its own may indicate poorly draining soil. To secure your home’s foundation and basement, you may need to re-grade this region. Longer downspout piping to divert water away from the house is another helpful strategy.

Yard drainage plumbing could be necessary if water pools in one spot for days on end. A French drain is a long ditch lined with perforated pipe and stone and emerges into the open air. The stone is typically left exposed at ground or grass level, and the ditch generally is about a foot wide. This not only permits surface water to drain through the stone and into the perforated piping but also encourages groundwater to move into the stone-filled trench and be drained there. Our yard will dry out considerably if we deplete the surface water and the migrating groundwater.

Today, many plastic/poly catch basins designed for domestic gardens are readily accessible for purchase. They can handle a lawnmower, but an automobile is too much for them to handle. Start your drainage pipes with a catch basin somewhat lower than the elevation of the surrounding lawns if you have a low region that pools water. The most typical basin sizes are 18 inches and 24 inches in diameter. Rather than waiting for water to slowly seep down through the stone and into the perforated piping, these can quickly absorb moisture. When you join the perforated pipe to the basin, water is simultaneously drained from the French drain trench and the catch basin. When choosing a line, ensure it can handle the average rainfall in your area. Large rolls of perforated four and six-inch pipe are available for quick and straightforward rollout and backfilling. Piping with eight inches or more diameter is often sold in ten and twenty-foot lengths. These are not nearly as adaptable as the smaller sizes and instead require couplings for assembly. Using the roll piping, curved ditches are easily created.

Every French drain must have a filter cloth installed. Fabric socks come in four and six-inch diameters, making it unnecessary to wrap or cover the pipe. The wrapped line is rolled out in the trench after a thin layer of stone has been laid at the bottom of the track and graded on a slope to the low end of the channel. Carefully add stone to cover the pipe and anchor it in place, doing your best to keep the line as central as possible in the track. The trench should be backfilled to grade once the pipe has been encased.

Using a level and rod, which can be rented from any tool store, is the simplest way to determine the incline of your trench and pipes. Once the group has been mounted on the right tripod and leveled using the three screws and bubble level at the bottom of the story, the user may set the rod on the top of the catch basin and read the numbers in the cross hairs. These days, most rods are metric and relatively straightforward to work with. Note that there are only ten tick marks on the rods between the feet. The number 12 is absent from the cube. The length of one foot is subdivided into tenths and hundredths. If the little black hash marks add up to 3 feet, the horizontal crosshair should be placed there. The metric reading is 3.24 ft.

A hash mark is worth one for each of its sides or edges. Thus three full marks equals six, and so on. The point where the pipe emerges into the open air should now be measured. Maybe fifty feet away at the most. Please exercise caution. Because of the decrease in altitude, this measurement will be greater than the previous one. The measuring stick shows 7.46 feet. If you take 3,24 away from 7,46, you can see that you’ll experience a loss of 4.22 feet in altitude throughout fifty feet. Using rough calculations, you should expect to lower your pipe by about a foot for every twelve and a half feet of trench. The total decline along the length of the tube is 4.22 feet.

The final three inches, or.22 feet, of line, are being added on. As a result, no matter what size pipe you use, you should get a reading of 4.24 at the bottom of the tube at the basin itself if you begin with a measurement of 3.24 at the top of the bay, and the depth of the basin is 12 inches. The bottom line is what counts. The bottom elevation of the pipe can be calculated by adding one foot to the measurement every 12 and a half feet. 5, 24, 6, 24, 7, 24, etc. After some practice, you can measure to the ground while the machine is digging the trench and add the stone thickness you are using under the pipe (let’s say 4 inches). Then, the stone will keep the line at the correct height of four inches. You should double-check every so often to make sure everything is in order.

If one is being used, a catch basin should be set up near the beginning of the drainage system. Dig down far enough so the catch basin sits at a slight angle concerning the ground surface. Add a layer of stone underneath the basin and dig a few inches deeper than necessary. The bay will have a firm foundation and more space for water to collect on the earth. Attach the pipe to the basin, place some foundation stone in the trench, then roll the line out for about 20 feet. Make sure there are no bumps in the pipe as you fill the basin and pipe back up. Water will be trapped in the line if it is allowed to rise and fall. Having some slight skew to the left or right is OK, but try to maintain it as straight as possible. You may continue digging trenches and installing pipes. Caution is warranted here. Shoring must be used to support the trench walls if the depth of the track ever rises above four feet. If the bank were to collapse on your back while you were kneeling to accomplish something like joining two pieces of piping or removing a large stone, you would likely die very rapidly from asphyxiation. Don’t take any risks! To ensure that your ditches are filled with gravel, it is recommended that you use a plate compactor every foot or so. Most trenches won’t have perfectly straight sides; if you leave gaps, water will eventually seep in and sink your channels. Ditches have the same stability as the original ground when dug significantly but adequately with less moisture.

Finally, larger machinery will be needed to excavate the drainage trenches if water is pooling on the surface due to subsurface rock that prevents the water from draining. Pipes laid on their sides can still carry water as long as their exposed ends are in the shade. The line acts as a sluice or channel for the water to exit, making it considerably more efficient than the alternative (seeping through fissures in the rock) because water always seeks its level. A hammer attached to a machine may be necessary when laying the pipe flat, or lowering it is not an option. In most cases, removing all of the rocks at once is more efficient after completing the entire trench excavation and renting the hammer for the day. Avoid having people, pets, or children accidentally fall into any open trenches you may have. You are accountable for it.


The Helpful Constructor

Software for Building Inspection and Code Enforcement (BICES)

Pete Ackerson has worked as a public and private building inspector for over 30 years. He has experience in both the office of building design and the field of construction in the Eastern United States, having worked on a wide range of projects from schools to treatment plants, individual residences, and condo projects to major residential landscaping projects. In 2006, he and two other inspectors started a company called Wagsys LLC to provide software for local governments’ building departments, planning boards, and zoning appeals boards.

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