The Absolute Guide to Trench Drain Systems
What is a Trench Drain?
A trench drain is a linear drainage application used to catch, collect and convey water from a starting location to and an outlet or catch basin.
These Linear Drains are made up of: channels, end caps, end outlets, grates, catch basin and other installation accessories.
Channel materials include: Fiber Reinforced Concrete, Polymer Concrete, Stainless Steel and HDPE.
Grate Materials include: Ductile Iron, Cast Iron, Galvinized Steel and Polymer.
Technical specifications can be viewed here.
Linear Drain Systems can be made of polymer or concrete channels or troughs
Trench Drain Systems (strip drains, channel drains, floor drains) are linear drainage applications that catch, collect and convey water and other liquids. Choosing the right trench drain may seem like a daunting task, with all different sizes, materials makes and models. But in all reality, anyone can find the right drainage solution by understanding this simple overview and checklist.
There are two major groups of trench drains. Polymer Channels and Concrete Channels.
Polymer based channels can come in the form of hdpe (high density polyethylene) or fiberglass. Concrete based channels can come in the form of fiber reinforced concrete or polymer concrete.
Polymer channels have anchors for rebar which prevent floating.
Concrete channels have articulated mechanical anchors which come pre formed in the trench drain channel.
These Linear Drains are typically 4" , 5" , 6" , 8" or 12" wide. Anything larger than 12" is usually overkill. They come in varying depths, with shallow profiles, deep profiles or pre sloped systems. Pre sloped trench drains usually have a .75% or 1% external slope. Meaning, that each channel is numerically numbered and slightly deeper than the one that precedes it.
For instance Channel 1 could be 4.25" to 4.75". Which would connect to Channel 2 which would be 4.75" deep to 5.25" deep.
Most trench drain systems come pre sloped.
Drains can be furnished and configured pre sloped or neutral. Neutral trench drains have the same depth from the end cap (start) to the end outlet or bottom outlet (finish)
Channel Drains are straight drainage applications used to collect water from a point and transfer it to another desired location. A trench drain system is usually composed of a few different parts including:
- a channel
- a grate
- an end cap
- an end outlet
- catch basin
Composition and Makeup
Most of these parts are beneath the surface and after they are installed shouldn’t be seen from or heard from if installed properly. Channels can come with attachments for re bar on the side which secure the channel to the concrete bed which will be poured as shown in the following clip.
Trench Drain Channels are long, tubular u shaped conduits.
The channel can be made of:
- HDPE/ Fiberglass / Polymer
- Polymer Concrete
- Fiber Reinforced Concrete
- Cast iron,
- Stainless steel
Plastic derivative channels are more than sufficient for most residential applications. One of the main things to consider when determining channel material is load bearing.
Load bearing is how much weight the drain can and is expected to hold. In most residential situations, the heaviest thing that will be going over these drains are delivery trucks, oil and gas trucks and typical “highway rated traffic”. In most instances a polymer channel should be sufficient. Higher grade materials wouldn’t add much functional or structural integrity to the system. Polymer channels are budget friendly, last long and easy to assemble.
There are some differences between channels. As previously mentioned, some have anchors for re bar to prevent the drain from floating during installation. The Dura Slope has anchors that are pre fabricated, circular place holders for re bar. This thoughtful and measure allows the installer to fasten re bar beside the channel every section and the concrete will be poured around the re bar to prevent it from “floating” or moving during the installation process.
In lieu of re bar, other manufacturers have chosen to have articulated channel bodies so the concrete can form a natural “wet blanket” around the rivets as its poured. These indentations allow the poured concrete to form better and also gives an added layer of foundation.
More on ASTM Standards and Ratings can be viewed here.