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Residential Trench Drain Applications

Below is a list of common residential drainage applications. With each application, we briefly discuss the problems encountered, some considerations required, and we give examples of some products that might be used in solving this particular drainage issue. If we can direct you to an article that discusses this application in detail, we will provide a link to it. We will also provide a link to the products discussed so you will have quick access to the data sheets for the product. The more you know about solving your drainage problem, the better we can help in recommending a product to use.

Keep in mind, the products we discuss in the applications below are not the only products that will work in solving a particular problem. Other products may be available that have not been highlighted. If you don’t see exactly what you are looking for, give us a call or send us an email. We try to answer all inquiries with 24 hours of receiving them.

Driveway Drainage

Driveway drainage is the most common residential trench drain application.  When a driveway slopes toward the home prolonged rains can cause household flooding.  Over time, an unchecked water flow may damage the home’s foundation and lead to basement leaking. (Rainwater downspouts that are not directed away from the home foundation can also contribute to this problem.)

Other homeowners may see their driveways washed out during rainstorms.  This is particularly true of gravel driveways and winding driveways with steep slopes.  Once again, diverting water with a trench drain before it can wipe out your driveway saves time and energy in the future.

The solution to preventing this flooding is to first capture the deluge with a trench drain and re-route it to a lower point where it will cause no damage.  This is tricky for some homeowners in low-lying areas but can be resolved by running the water into a sump.  Once you have a plan for the final outlet, you can begin considering which trench drainage products will work best for you.

You should consider cost, ease of installation, load requirements, aesthetics, water capacity, and life expectancy of the system before making a product selection. Whether your concerns are functionality, aesthetics or economy, has many recommended options for residential driveway drainage:

A few articles have been written on driveway drainage problems and installation which may help shed light on the considerations need to be made prior to installing a driveway drain. Reading these articles may give you a better idea of the trench drain system that will meet your needs.

Polycast DrainageNDS Dura Slope Driveway DrainageDriveway Drainage

Shower Trench Drains

Barrier-free showers are becoming very popular. The trend has been brought about, in part, by a style shift to open or expansive shower areas. With all the new shower features available, a standard tub-shower combo can seem cramped.

However, a growing reason that people seek trench drains is to make bathing quarters for the aging. Conventional baths and showers have rims that can be difficult for those with wheel chairs or walkers. A shower with a trench drain across the entrance provides a nice way to keep water confined to the intended enclosure while also making pedestrian traffic barrier–free.

To select your shower drain properly, your first consideration should be the flooring that supports the shower.  Though some floors are concrete, most residential floors are built on a wooden framework of joists.  It is in this layer, below the subflooring, that you will connect the drain outlet into your plumbing pipes.  Drains that are being put into traditional wooden joist floors require a flange around the drain body for installation and are stainless steel.  For a YouTube video demonstrating shower drain installation in a joist floor, click here.

If the drain is being placed in a bed of concrete, more traditional drain bodies can be used. Flange-free polymer concrete and plastic bodied drains are available for this type of flooring.  Though they still require a waterproofing membrane, installation is a little more straightforward.  For a YouTube video demonstrating shower drain installation in concrete, click here.

The stainless steel drain market is settling, but products can be pricey because of the fluctuating cost of raw material.  Plastic and polymer concrete channels are more cost effective but don’t offer flanges. Ultimately, the shower drain selection you make depends on the type of floor you are building into your shower. has a number of stainless steel shower drain products for your consideration, as well as drains that are made for concrete encasement. We are able to custom make stainless steel products or provide dependable brands designed by Blucher, Infinity and Polycast. You can also view a short shower drain article on our blog.


Shower Trench DrainsShower Trench DrainsShower Trench Drains

Downspout Drainage

If you have downspout drainage problems around your home, you are not alone.  In many instances, poor drainage around your foundation walls leads to damp, leaky basements.  There are a several reasons for poor downspout drainage: 

1.) the gutters are located too close to the roof, causing water to “skip over” the gutter altogether,

2.) the gutters and downspout are functional, but clogged, which leads to overflow, and

3.) the downspout does not reroute water away from the foundation properly. recommends downspout drainage basins, along with trench drain, as a part of a “Dry Basement Remedy Package”.  You can direct water away from your foundation using any NDS catch basins, which are attractive, functional and low maintenance.  Plastic profile drains protect longer stretches of your foundation that a square basin cannot reach.

By adding a catch basin to an existing downspout, you can isolate and re-route storm water away from your foundation walls and keep your basement dry.  Catch basins come in a variety of sizes (up to 24” square), with grates available in plastic, brass or cast iron options.  You can even use Iron Age Decorative Cast Iron or bronze grates for an added touch of backyard elegance.

There is a wealth of product and installation information available on downspout catch basins. For more articles on this topic, review the Catch Basin Medley article located on

Downspout DrainageDownspout DrainageDownspout Drainage

Yard Drainage

The good news is that most yard drainage has a solution.  When puddles gather in your lawn or garden, the most likely culprit is poor grading, not the water table.  Grading issues can be solved by sloping the lawn away from trouble areas or by installing one of two drainage systems.

1.  You may install a French drain system, a below-ground system that captures water within the soil and carries it away in a perforated pipe (see our blog here).  French drains can be effective but have a few flaws.  Firstly, they are not as effective in clay soils because the perforations rely on water permeability.  Secondly, they are subject to clogs over the years, which makes them ineffectual in time.  Thirdly, if your problem is surface runoff then a French drain cannot do much to help.

2.  You can install a catch basin network joined by buried PVC piping to keep your lawn and garden “puddle-free.”  You will need to design your system to discharge water either into a storm sewer or to a lower point in your yard.  This option requires a fair amount of digging but is beneficial in the long run.  Catch basins are able to catch a large amount of water.  Because they hold debris in the reservoir, catch basins are less likely to clog than French drains.

There are a wide range of plastic catch basin sizes and shapes. Pop-up emitters will help blend the drain outlet into your landscape. For those situations where a drainage point is difficult to find, dry wells are available that help store rain water and replenish the water table. 

Polymer concrete and poured-in-place products also exist for large projects. These concrete basins often require professional equipment to install because of their weight but are a better option if you have any heavy traffic crossing over your lawn or if freeze-thaw is a concern in your region. 


Read more about Yard Drainage here.

Yard DrainageYard DrainageYard Drainage


While the physical location of barns can interrupt natural water flow and cause drainage issues, anyone who has a barn or equipment building knows the mess that can occur inside where wet animals or tractors are housed.  Mud from the equipment and animal waste build up quickly, leading to frequent hose-downs of the floor. Trench drain is a standard design requirement for these buildings and ideal for controlling your waste water.

Barn applications generally require cast or ductile iron grating because of the loads that tractors and hoofed animals can bring. We have systems available that are compatible with fuel run-off and animal waste.  For the most rugged trench drain applications, consider using cast iron frames to help increase the load capability of your drain.  

Common products to use in barns where low flows are expected are:

In some barns, you’ll need more oomph to get the job done.  For wider, high flow capacity drain requirements, consider using:

You may wish to select your drainage product based on channel material. For rugged, high strength polymer concrete, Polycast 700 is your choice. For lightweight and easy to install products with a HDPE channel body, look to the Zurn and Dura Slope products. And for economical poured in place concrete channels, consider the EconoDrain products. If you have more specific questions on selecting a system, call one of the service professionals at @ 610-638-1221.  Keep water from entering your barns or control waste water in your service buildings. Our heavy-duty systems are rated to stand up to the weight of heavy equipment and livestock.


Basement Trench Drains

Recommending trench drain for a basement application is an uncomfortable process because, inevitably, there is a leaking basement wall that the homeowner is trying to control with a long shallow drain.  While a trench drain will help, using trench drain in this application is a stop gap measure.  The real problem is that there is water along the foundation which is penetrating the wall.

If the basement wall is part of an old stone foundation, you pretty much expect some occasional water to get through. But, if you have a new concrete or block foundation that is leaking or damp, you need to first evaluate your downspouts and site water drainage pattern and concentrate on re-routing it away from the house. If you live in an area where the water table rises each time it rains, it is better to invest in sump pumps, not trench drain.

To control water leakage through basement walls, some contractors cut a small trough in the concrete floor wide enough to place a 1.5” to 3” plastic drain. The drain is placed at the base of the leaking wall and grouted into place. Usually connected to a sump pit, the drain catches water leaking through the walls and redirects it before it can damage the basement interior.

Popular products for this application are:

The size of the leak will determine the size of the drain required. Micro Channel (1.25” wide) is the narrowest channel, followed by Z880 (2.5”), Mini Channel and JR Smith 9833(3”).

Basement Trench DrainsBasement Trench Drains

Patios and Sidewalk Drains

Another common problem homeowners face is improper water drainage along the patio or sidewalk.  If the homeowner is lucky, fixing the drainage problem simple; in some instances, water runs off the pool or sidewalk and can be drained away naturally using a gravel bed.  If this is not the case, trench drain is very useful in evacuating water storm water that has puddled in a low spot on a patio or sidewalk.

In the case of a sidewalk, water usually pools at the base of steps when the sidewalk is sloped toward the step, leaving no place for the water to drain. This is similar to what happens when a backyard patio slopes toward the house foundation:  storm water has nowhere to go but to the junction between the patio and foundation wall; if there is a seam along that contact edge, water will most likely seep along the basement wall and damage the foundation.  By installing a trench drain along the base of the wall or step, you will provide a conduit for the water to use that can be directed to a more suitable location other than your house.

There are many trench drain options for this application, but the standard product would have a removable 4"-6" grate. Because drains can be deceptively effective, you shouldn't need a wider drain for this application. Ultimately, you'll need to select how important aesthetics, economy, and material selection play in your drain selection:

Review some of our links to get started or call at 610-638-1221 for more information. 

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Pool Deck Drains

A pool-deck drain in similar in many respects to a sidewalk drain. There are two major differences in the pool application, however.  You are more concerned with the presence of barefoot people and less worried about protecting the house from water issues.  Pool-deck drains are geared toward containing water within the pool area.

A major factor for deciding which pool drain to choose is determining your balance between safety and aesthetics.  We all want to have a safe pool environment.   For pool decks that get a lot of bare foot traffic, safety and economy may be a higher priority. Plastic perforated or tightly slotted covers will be safe on the little feet and will be less costly than metal grating. Metal grating also has the characteristic of being a good conductor of solar heat, which can be hot to the touch when walking over bare foot. Plastic channel drain products come in an assortment of sizes and colors to help match your outside décor.

For applications where the drain is to completely surround the pool, it may be nice to select a system that has prefabricated corner sections which will make installation easier.  However, if you are tiling your pool deck or plan on using the area for dinner parties, you may want to lean toward selecting a stainless steel or ornamental iron grating to better match the environment you want to provide. Any one of the systems that have decorative grating (NDSMEA-Josam) or one which offers stylish stainless steel grating (InfinityPolycast 600 or Zurn) could be a good place to begin looking.

For wider plastic channels with grating color options, consider any of the NDS products. The "Cadillac" of all NDS products for pool application is Dura Slope trench drain. This 6" wide drain has pre-sloped HDPE channels and an assortment of grate color choices. It is commonly used in municipal swimming pools and large residential drainage project. For more information on Dura Slope, visit our Dura Slope blog that highlights some decorative options.

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