Installing Driveway Trench Drains: Pros and Cons of DIY

Installing Driveway Trench Drains: Pros and Cons of DIY

Water is never a homeowner’s friend. Regardless of how it enters your home, water causes a myriad of problems from rotted siding to damaged foundations, all of which will likely cost the owner a bundle of money to fix. Water from your driveway can be part of the problem, depending on its slope, which is why many homeowners opt to install a driveway trench drain on their property.

What is a trench drain?

Sometimes called a channel drain, a trench drain is positioned at the mouth of your driveway in an area where it can serve to draw water away from your garage, garden, basement, or your foundation. Instead it’s diverted elsewhere or to an existing drainage run.

These channel drains are straight drainage strips that collect surface water or rainwater before flooding issues can arise. They are usually offered in a variety of widths, from as small as about 5 inches to as much as a foot-wide.

Selecting the right trench drain and determining the proper width will involve the following considerations:

  • The slope of the surface where the channel drain is to be installed – Slope affects the speed and volume of the water that will collect and be carried through the channel.
  • The amount of water to be collected Think about your average rainfall, for example, to answer this question. You can also get a bit more technical and look at water table flow charts for your area to determine the amount of water. An answer to this question will help determine the width of the drain to be installed.
  • Things that will be going over the channel drain (people, cars, heavy trucks, pets, etc.) – Drains have different class load capacities so knowing that will be driving over the drain is helpful in choosing the right type. Paw-proof channel drains are also available for those whose pets will be in constant contact with the trench drain.

Can I install them myself?

It’s important to remember that a trench drain is a great long-term solution for protecting your home from water, but ONLY if it’s installed correctly. That said, however, you can certainly decide to do-it-yourself if you’re willing to do what it takes not only to choose the right kind of channel drain but also to do the prep work and tackle the other steps necessary to install it the right way.

First of all, you’ll need a lot of tools. You may already own them or you may be able to borrow or rent them. Remember, however, that just acquiring the tools could cost a bundle. These tools might include:

  • Chisel point bar
  • Cordless drill
  • Garden rake
  • Shovel
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Line level
  • Spade
  • Utility knife
  • Wheelbarrow

You’re also going to need to make some additional purchases besides the actual drain. These include:

  • Crushed rock
  • Fabric sock
  • Landscape fabric
  • Stakes
  • Y-fittings

You’ll definitely need to be up for a good deal of manual labor with this DIY job. Digging the trench for the drain can be a huge deal and quite a lot of work, depending on the size of the drain and what you’ll be digging through. It’s also important to remember to call your utility companies before you dig so as to avoid hitting any of their equipment. The location of underground cables may throw your plans off-kilter a bit and you may have to devise a Plan B.

Depending on where you plan to install your trench drain, you may also need to move hardscaping like bricks or pavers or may have to tear up a bit of your landscaping. Plan ahead for these things and consider finding a partner to help you in lifting heavy materials or with other difficult tasks.

Of course, if you don’t have the time, patience, or strength to install your own trench drain, the experts at Urban Water Works can do it for you in likely half the time it would take you to do it yourself. Urban Water Works can also help you determine what kind of drench train is right for you and can assess the slope of your driveway as well as your overall drainage needs. Finally, we’ll install the drain at your convenience. It just takes a phone call!

For more information about driveway trench drains and their installation as well as other drainage services we offer, call us at 604-790-8993.