Not Calling Before You Dig
By far the biggest mistake made in home trenching/digging projects like drainage is forgetting to call and find out what utilities might be underground. It seems obvious, but its very easy to assume in a back or side yard that you’re fine to dig however, trenching through a power, or gas line can be dangerous and expensive to repair. The best practice before any digging project where you’re not 100% sure that there are no buried utilities is to call 811. This service will enable all the local utilities in your area to come out and physically mark with paint any utilities on or near your property. Additionally there may be other regional restrictions about water runoff or home owner association covenants that may direct where and how you can install drainage on your property.
Whats Better For Most Users Corrugated Or Pvc
If I had to do my project all over again, I would probably seriously consider corrugated pipe. Its far less costly and vastly faster to install. It is also much more user friendly, whether you are a DIYer or a pro. If you have a relative small job and youre tying into existing PVC like I was, PVC might still make sense. But if I had friends ask me what they should use in their yard , in almost all cases Id likely recommend corrugated pipe for its ease of installation, lower cost and easier handling.
Not Lining The Trench With Drainage Fabric
Another big issue contributing to early French drain failure is not lining the trench with a non-woven geotextile drainage fabric. The drainage fabric acts as a soil separator and prevents dirt and debris from mingling with your rock fill while allowing the water to freely flow. By omitting this drainage fabric there is nothing stopping the subgrade earth from mixing in with your drain rock and this contamination will lead to reduced capacity and ultimately clogging/failure over time. If you want to ensure your system continually performs for decades to come then be sure to line your trench with professional-grade non-woven geotextile drainage fabric using the “Burrito Wrap” install method.
- Industry standard for French drains are 4 to 6 oz non-woven drainage fabric.
- High quality drainage fabric can last for decades without issue
- Avoid using socked wrapped perforated pipe alone without drainage fabric as it will easily clog with dirt/soil.
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Tying A Downspout Directly Into The French Drain
It is not uncommon to have gutter downspouts drain directly into an in-ground drainage field. A drain system can be overwhelmed with incoming water during heavy rain, or sheet rain, causing a flood of water to enter the drainage system. If this is the system you are working with you can prevent flooding of your drain system by installing a catch basin before before the drain field and tie the French drain into the basin. Installing a catch basin also enables a point of access to clean out leaves and debris that enter the basin before they potentially enter and clog your drain line.
Downspout directly leading into French Drain
Include Catch Basin from Downspout before drain
Let The Debris Flow Pvc Vs Corrugated In Terms Of Drainage
Despite getting relatively little precipitation and our surface drains not being fully installed, I was surprised to find that a bunch of sediment had actually clogged the end of our existing pvc drain pipe. While testing the existing surface drain pipes, I found water was not exiting where it was supposed to . Even so, a little hand-clearing near the 4 smooth pvc pipe exit cleared the drainage line.
Catching debris is something corrugated pipe is known for, particularly if there is a belly in the pipe. Those can happen if the slope on your trench is uneven. Why is it corrugated then, you might ask. Without the corrugations, the pipe would be as flimsy as a large drinking straw, with the same limited flexibility. The corrugation adds strength and flexibility. When you think of free-flowing water, a bunch of perpendicular ridges isnt the first and most efficient thing that comes to mind. There is a reason all plumbing you might find in a home or business is smooth-walled, whether its ABS, cast iron or PVC. So, for preventing clogs and keeping your drain water flowing long term, pvc is the winner over corrugated pipe.
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Easy And Weak Vs More Challenging And Strong
Perhaps the biggest difference between these two types of landscape drainage pipes is how easy or difficult they are to work with. If you have long, straight runs, with a little planning corrugated pipe goes down very fast. Once your trench work is complete, you can lay a 100 coil of corrugated pipe in no time. With solid pvc, even a straight run will require 4 to 9 connections depending on whether youre working with 10 or 20 sections of pvc pipe. Frankly, its a pain.
Have a project with lots of angles, bends, twists and turns? Strongly consider corrugated pipe it is vastly easier to navigate around bends and corners. Corrugated is also far more forgiving in terms of installing in tight quarters or in runs that have numerous connections. For most typical residential installs, particularly for DIY landscape drainage, corrugated pipe will save you some time and aggravation.
Shop Drain Pipes And Pipe Accessories At Ace
Standing water in your yard or basement isn’t only inconvenient but can also be damaging. If you are unsure as to which pipe is right for your home plumbing needs, from corrugated to straight and solid, non-perforated to perforated pipes, stop by your local Ace where our helpful staff can lead you in the right direction.
Need help? Call 1-866-290-5334
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Common French Drain Mistakes & How To Avoid Them
Over the years we’ve worked with hundreds if not thousands of home owners and contractors about proper french drain installation and what type of fabric material is best to use. Many of the calls are from frustrated folks needing to replace failed drainage systems. we’ve gathered together a list of the most common French Drain Mistakes, so you can avoid these common pitfalls.
Using The Wrong Type Of Drain Rock
Proper drainage rock is crucial for adequate permeability and drainage. Using a clean natural round stone for your drain fill material enables good flow through the aggregate and won’t clog the system. When available a great choice of stone is 1-1/2″ clean round rock.
- Use Natural 1-1/2″ round rock for best drainage. Washed rock is ideal.
- Avoid small pea gravel as the spaces in between stone is smaller minimizing flow rates.
- Avoid Crushed Rock that compacts and has “fines” that will clog pipe inlets.
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Placing Excavated Soil Back Into The Trench
Trenching can be a chore and sometimes contractors and home owners find it easier to put the left over excavated soil/clay on top of the newly created drain system. Adding soil back into the trench should be avoided. Excavating the trench and installing a drain system is normally done because because the soil didn’t properly drain. Ideal drain fields are porous, allowing water to flow to its desired destination without impediment. By adding soil/clay back into the drain system will clog and reduce the capacity of your French drain over time. BOTTOM LINE: Once the soil is removed don’t put it back in!
Corrugated Vs Pvc Pipe For Exterior And French Drains
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I recently tackled installing some french drains and exterior landscape drains to help direct the many pints of water that sometimes fall from the sky here in San Diego. One section of french drain was by a retaining wall, and another by a spot on our home that catches a lot of runoff. One question I grappled with was whether to use corrugated vs solid pipe. The black corrugated pipe seemed like a cheaper and easier option, but something told me I shouldnt dismiss using schedule 40 solid, 4 pvc pipe. I did a lot of research before diving into my project, and hopefully the insights I gained will help you with your landscape drainage or french drain project.
When we originally installed a retaining wall in our backyard, a french drain and some surface drain pipes were put in on the main length of the wall. However, I had a sneaking suspicion that a short length of the wall without drains was going to be a problem. After some unusually heavy rains in our normally bone-dry climate, I decided to dig up that portion of the wall to check moisture levels. Unfortunately, my suspicions were confirmed. After digging down what felt like 20 feet, I found a soupy mess that appeared to be about 99% water, 1% dirt. It was clear I needed to add another leg of french drain here.
Heres a quick video overview, followed by our more detailed written analysis where I was singing a bit different tune than in the video:
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Gravel Only Drain Without A Drain
French Drain without drain pipe
A common mistake made by homeowners intending on installing drainage is leaving out the drain pipe. By missing this important step the drain cannot handle heavy water flow, which reduces its effectiveness at mitigating idle water. The purpose of a drain is to direct pooling surface and subsurface water where you need it to go. Having a drain pipe, most commonly a 4″ or 6″ perforated pipe surrounded by round drain rock provides the capacity to move this water away from structures and prevent pooling. BOTTOM LINE: Skipping out on drainage fabric and pipe will inevitably cost you more when you need to replace the system in the near future.
Do Not Wrap A French Drain Pipe With Drainage Fabric
I want to talk a little bit about the pipe we use, the fabric we use, how we use it and why we use it in the way that we use it. So a lot of guys are just wrapping the pipe and then theyll put the pipe in and the whole their stone in. We dont do that. And Ill tell you why.
This subsoil right here, if you just pour stone, lets say we just wrapped a pipe right there, or you have a pipe with a sock on it and now you just fill this in with stone and you put the grass back over top. This subsoil mixes with the stone and the stone migrates into the subsoil. It plugs here. The system plugs here. So, to have a pipe with a sleeve or a sock on it, and I even see guys thatll take drainage fabric and wrap the pipe, its a really bad idea. Thats not the right way to build a good French drain system.
So, for a French drain system, never use the pipe with a sleeve sock on it. Dont wrap your pipe with a filter wrap because youre going to want to wrap. You need a soil separator so that your stone and subsoil dont mix and it and itll plug here. What good is having a pipe thats not plugged if you cant get the water to it? So we wrap everything. This is a soil separator, will have the stone and pipe and well wrap it all. Thats how we do it. Thats a philosophy on how we build the drainage system and it works. It works really well over 30 years and theres not one thats failed.
For a French drain system built right the first time in Shelby Township, Michigan, give us a call at .
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Which Pipe Is Right For You
Whichever type of pipe you choose, there are a couple of things to look out for:
- You should check that the pipe bore is wide enough for your needs.
- Your pipes must have a temperature rating certified for your location, allowing it to with stand sub-zero temperatures as well as high temperatures depending on where installation occurs.
Once you have your drainage pipes, browse drain pipe accessories to make installation and operation more effective. Pipe socks are available separately or already fitted to the pipes, helping to prevent clogging and keeping the pipe’s contents flowing smoothly, while flexible couplings let you install rigid pipes around turns.
What Is A Culvert
Much like drainage pipes, culverts are structures that encourage the safe and efficient flow of water. The difference between culverts and drainage pipes is that culvers may integrate iron pipes, galvanized pipes and other pipes, but not always.
Culverts can be used for both professional and home improvement projects. For home improvement projects, a culvert pipe, not unlike a drainage pipe, is used to alleviate issues with pooling water in areas like driveways to protect structural integrity for years to come. At Ace, homeowners can choose between corrugated pipes and smooth PVC pipes from leading brands like Charlotte Pipe and Advanced Drainage Systems.
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Typical Costs Of Corrugated Vs Pvc Drain Pipe
A 100 roll of 4 corrugated pipe will, at the time of this article, set you back roughly $50 to $75.Most corrugated pipe fittings such as couplings, tees, wye, etc. are in the $2 to $10 range.All in all, corrugated drain pipe is super affordable.
100 of 4 schedule 40 pvc pipe will run about $100 to $200 depending on where you source it.Most solid pipe fittings such as couplings, tees, wye, etc. are in the $3 to $10 range.
While 4 pipe fittings are comparable between corrugated and solid pvc, youll typically pay way less than half for corrugated vs pvc pipe. If you are on a budget, corrugated is the clear winner in the cost department.
Selecting The Wrong Type Of Landscape Fabric
Select the correct type landscape fabric that will properly drain sub-surface water is key to installing a functional and long lasting French Drain. The two primary types of geotextile landscape fabric used are non-woven fabric, a permeable felt like material, and woven fabric. Both fabrics have their advantages depending on the application. For water drainage you will need a something that will let water easily pass through and also keep dirt and debris from entering in. Non-woven drainage fabric is specifically engineered for this purpose. Nonwoven Drainage Fabric is designed to allow water to pass through while filtering dirt and debris from entering into your system and clogging up drain lines. This type of fabric is also sometimes called landscape drainage or filter fabric for this reason.
Woven landscape fabrics typically have a greater pull strength, but in general do not provide a high flow rate, making for poor drainage. Woven fabrics are commonly found as ground cover for weeds, and also under gravel driveway and paved road construction where strength is needed.
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