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General Installation

Trench Drain Installation for the Residential Driveway

Installing polycast drain, polycast 600 driveway drain, driveway drain install

Most homeowners that purchase trench drain are looking to resolve an existing drainage problem. From my observation, driveway drainage problems are the most common, so let’s talk about how to install a trench drain in an existing driveway. The problem can vary from being merely a low spot in the drive that causes the pooling of water to the unfortunate deluge of water that enters the garage each time there is a heavy rain.

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In this situation, the homeowner was getting water into his garage with every hard rain. Further investigation suggested that water was running through a seam at the asphalt-garage floor interface and filtering to the foundation which caused dampness at the base of his basement walls and an over active sump pump. In addition to having a driveway that gently sloped toward the house, his house was at the low end of the street, which made his site more prone to collecting street run-off. To make matters worse, he had downspouts from the roof on either side of the garage door that supplied more water to the affected area.

To remedy his problem, the customer decided to install a trench drain abutting his garage floor to accept the water from his downspouts. The water was to be discharged toward his back yard, which sloped to a creek. The home owner selected a pre-sloped 6″ wide polymer concrete trench drain (Polycast 600) with cast iron grates and steel channel protectors. The drain channels of this system were pre-sloped (not neutral) so water would flow the moment it entered the drain.

Step One – Excavation

trench drain excavation, installing a driveway drainPrior to any work, the contractors hung a sheet of plastic to protect the garage door and siding from slurry and concrete splashes. They cut a line in the asphalt 20 inches in front of the garage door using a concrete saw. Then they cut the asphalt strip into smaller squares for easy handling during removal. The diamond blade on this saw had a 6″ cutting depth, which made it able to cut through the 4 inches of asphalt and another 2 inches of the gravel below.

The installers manually removed both the sectioned asphalt and underlying gravel. In this case, gravel and asphalt was put into the back of a pick-up truck and taken to a land fill for disposal. During this time, the downspouts were fitted with the 4″ PVC fittings necessary to divert the roof water into the trench and drainage pipe.

Trench drain installation, driveway drain install,

Installing polycast drain, polycast 600 driveway drain, driveway drain installStep Two – Assembly

To assemble the channels, placement began at the lowest point (invert out) and progressed to the shallowest end. The contractors established a level line just below the surface of the asphalt and 14″ from the edge of the garage floor. They attached installation hardware to the first polymer channel section (4 foot length) and set it in place, suspended 4 inches above the excavated surface, with #4 rebar.

The top edge of the channel was adjusted to meet the level line by using installation chairs. Vertical adjustments were done by sliding the installation chair on the rebar. Horizontal alignments were made with the adjusting bolts on the installation chair.

After leveling the first channel, the contractors added installation hardware to the end of the second channel and attached in an “end to end” manner with the first channel. Again, they suspended the channel 4″ above the excavated surface and adjusted laterally and horizontally on the rebar supports to match the level line. The installers repeated the technique until the last channel section was put in place.

Once the channel was assembled, the contractors installed end caps (with knockouts) and attached down spouts and piping. They wrapped the grates in plastic sheeting both to protect them from concrete and to keep concrete out of the trench. Some people place a strip of plywood in the grate recess during concrete pouring. This is a good idea. It allows you to keep the grates clean and the trench free from concrete and not deal with the plastic sheet.

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Step Three – Pouring Concrete

installing trench drain in asphalt driveway, asphalt drive trench drain, how to install a drain in asphalt drivewayFor this installation, the drain was centered in a 20″ wide excavated trench that was approximately 12″ deep. A minimum 4″ space was below the channel and 6″ on either side of the channel for concrete to fill. No reinforcing was used in the concrete (4000 psi mix). The concrete truck discharged the mix directly into the trench. Two men placed the concrete in the trench using hand tools. It would have been useful to have a pencil vibrator during the placement. Nevertheless, concrete pouring only took about one half hour.

Once the concrete was placed and the truck had left, the installers removed the grates to clean up the channels. They finished the cement with trowels and edging tools. Once finishing was complete and the concrete began to set, they locked  the grates into place and tightened the bolts.

Once the concrete dried, the contractors tidied the installation area, replacing dirt areas affected by excavation, returning flower planters  to their places, picking up rubbish and power washing the driveway for the homeowner.

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5 Responses to “Trench Drain Installation for the Residential Driveway”

  1. Water is standing in the bottom of my trench drain. What is the solution?

    Posted by Pat Pelt | August 30, 2012, 10:19 am
    • Pat,
      Standing water can be a sign of a couple things. If your driveway gets a lot of yard debris (leaves, sticks, sediment) you may need to clean out the drain’s outlet pipe; you can do this using a pressure washer or a Roto-Rooter type tool. It is also possible that the drain does not have enough slope to direct water into the outlet, but to be sure I’d recommend sending a picture to Sales@TrenchDrain.biz so a technician can take a look at it for you.
      I hope this helps!

      Posted by HannahS | August 30, 2012, 10:31 am
  2. I live in Woodbridge Va…..22193. Can you recommend any companies that can install a trench drain.

    Dan Hooper

    Posted by Dan Hooper | June 2, 2014, 5:33 pm


  1. […] If you are going to install a drain in an existing driveway, I recommend putting in a trench drain. You will need to cut and patch the concrete or asphalt driveway no matter which system you use. There will be more cutting and patching with the trench system. However, with the trench drain system, you will receive far more drainage for the amount of work applied to the project.  (For another article on a driveway trench drain installation, follow this link.) […]

  2. […] of the driveway.  It would be unnecessary to build a perimeter form around your catch basin or driveway trench drain.  You would merely set your drain in a location at an elevation that would facilitate the drainage […]

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