Residential Applications

Residential sites have many applications where trench drains are useful.  Some of the common applications such as pools and landscape areas are discussed in other sections in more detail.  

One of the primary applications that we see trench drains used in residential applications is for driveway entrances, garage entrances, and sidewalk entrances where water is sheeting into the interior of the home, garage, or basement.  Many of these areas will receive vehicular traffic, however, these are considered medium duty applications due to the low speed and infrequent loading as compared to commercial applications.

When designing one of these systems the key design issues are flow rate, debris, thermal cycles in an exterior environment, construct ability, and traffic type.


 Sizing the Drain

  • More often than not, residential applications can be handled with a 4" I.D. drain.  Most homeowners will say that they have "a lot of water" and feel like they need something larger, however by doing the calculations you will find out that this simply is not true.  I recommend that you use the formulas in our design section to properly determine the hydraulic load before arbitrarily determining the size of the drain.

Choosing the channel

  • The channel size should be determined by taking into account the hydraulic load, the debris load, and the outlet size needed.
  • Channel joints do not need to be sealed for stormwater use.
  • Make sure that channels are completely encapsulated in concrete to ensure that they will handle the manufacturer's design loading.
  • Most manufacturers make a residential style system that typically costs 25% to 50% less than it's commercial counterpart.
  • Applications that will see severe temperatures or changes in temperature should have similar thermal coefficients of expansion to that of the surrounding concrete encasement.  For more information see material properties.

Selecting the grate material

  • Residential systems have foot traffic and/or slow speed vehicular traffic.  For foot traffic applications almost any grate will work.  If you have vehicular traffic you should choose a metal grate.  Typically we see a galvanized steel grate in vehicular applications but it could also be an iron grate.  DO NOT choose a plastic grate for a vehicular application outdoors because they will fail in time.  UV light, moisture, and temperature will degrade these grates over time and eventually they will fail.
  • You may or may not want to lock down the grates in a residential application.  If you expect a heavy debris load then it is often easier to clean if you do not lock the grates in place.  If theft might be a problem in your neighborhood then you might want to consider locking the grates in place.
  • If the grates will be in areas where high heels might be worn you may want to consider a pedestrian friendly grate with smaller holes.  Remember that these will likely plug with debris much easier and require more maintenance.

Designing the layout

  • Most residential systems use only straight runs of trench drain.
  • Outlets can be out one end or both ends.  Outlets can often be out of the bottom of the trench or the end.  If you will be coming out the end make sure that if the pipe continues under the concrete in a traffic area that you can get 4" of concrete over the pipe so that you don't reduce the strength of the concrete.
  • Most residential systems are connected to a 3" or 4" outlet pipe.  Smooth pipe flows better but be sure to get long sweep elbows for any turns.  If you choose to use flexible pipe be sure to get proper fall in all areas of the pipe (1/8" per foot is typically sufficient).  High points in your pipe will cause the system to plug, backing water up into the drain.