DIY Drain Tile System

DIY Drain Tile System

Whether you are a homeowner or know a homeowner, you have one way or another heard a conversation regarding adding or replacing drain tile for yard drainage or a drier basement. Adding a culvert or drain tile on your property to alleviate water pooling or flooding is something that needs to be done. Here is a way for you to get the yard drainage you want while cutting costs by doing it yourself:

1. Map out poor drainage area:

Map out where water drainage is an issue in your yard and decide on how much drain tile you will need.

2. Order your supplies:

You will need to buy a few things for installing a culvert or drain tile in your yard.  You will need to lay the drain tile where drainage is an issue so that it leads out to an area away from your house. Decide on how much drain tile you will need. If you cannot get drain tile then drilling holes in some pvc piping works just as well.  The pvc pipes will need to be 4” in diameter or larger.  You will also need a drill to create holes in the pipes.  These holes will lead the water into the pipe and out into a better drainage system such as the curb side of your home. Order some sealant to make sure your piping does not leak at the seams.
You will also need to buy 1 to 1&1/2” gravel ideal for water drainage and leading the water into your culvert.  The gravel will be poured underneath and on top of the drain tile.  You will need enough for about 3” on both sides of the culvert. Next on your list is to purchase roofing felt which is a porous material placed on top of the culvert to prevent silt build up in your drain tile. If needed, purchase some new sod or grass seed.

3. Rent an excavator:

Next you need to rent heavy digging machinery.  A regular size or mini excavator will reduce the time spent on your job 100 fold. If you have a big job on a large lot or acreage, you will need to rent an excavator. For smaller jobs on a regular sized lot, rent a mini excavator. You can hire an operator if you have no experience or there are safety courses available if you prefer to operate the excavator yourself. If you are stuck on what excavator to rent here are some examples of some models to look for.  The John Deere 50G mini excavator is a great choice for a regular or smaller sized job.  It has the appropriate digging depth and arm reach needed to get as deep as the drain tile needs to go and it is small enough to maneuver in smaller spaces. For larger jobs an excavator rental such as the CAT 320D L excavator may be better as there is a larger bucket capacity which allows you to remove more dirt with each scoop.

Rent an excavator now!

4. Contact gas and water company:

Before digging your trenches, contact your local gas and water companies so they can tell you where their pipes are leading to and from your house.  This will ensure you do not dig with your excavator and puncture the pipes in the ground.

5. Dig trenches and lay drain tile:

Dig your trenches starting at the source of the problem, leading downhill towards where you want the water to drain. When the digging is completed you can pour about 3” of gravel at the bottom of the trenches. Then lay your drain tile, culvert, or pvc pipe onto the gravel. Ensure there is at least a ½” downward slope every 4 feet for proper drainage.  You can manipulate the gravel under the piping to achieve the minimum slope.  Connect the pipes where you need to extend the drain tile and make sure to add your sealant to ensure the seams do not leak.

6. Pour gravel over culvert:

Next lay your gravel over the drain tile about 3” up from the culvert in the trenches. You can use your excavator rental for this job rather than using a shovel which will save you a lot of time.

7. Cover gravel:

Once the gravel is laid you need to prevent silt from running into your drain tile with the water.  You can do this by purchasing roofing felt. If you do not complete this step, the silt will build up and eventually clog your drain tile and its impossible to unclog unless you tear them up and replace them. Cover the roofing felt with the residual dirt and reseed grass if needed.