What are the types of drainage systems and which material should be used?

Water is one of the things that can damage construction materials and buildings. Since they can be the cause of potential hazards especially when they are left to pool in certain areas in a property, having an appropriate and well-designed drainage system allows owners to keep their homes safe and dry.

The 2 main types of drainage systems

1)    Surface Drainage Systems

Surface drainage systems function by acting as canals for the excess water in a particular area. This includes the shallow channels or ditches that are usually dug in a parallel pattern. Once installed properly, it can transport the water into a designated drainage system which prevents the flooding or erosion in the property.

Types of surface drainages

a.     Open Drains

Open drains can be shallow, medium depth, or large. Depending on the amount of excess water in the area, one of these open drain types will work best for directing water away from a shallow or steep site.

b.    Humps and Hollows

These are the humps that have been manipulated into the ground with hollows in between. They are the type of surface drain that would work best in areas that have an abundant amount of soil.

c.     Levees

Levees are a type of drainage system that is created by removing some soil from a surface to form a gradient. This way, it will help in preventing both flooding and erosion in the area.

d.    Grassed Waterways

They are the shallow and (often) narrow surface drainage systems that can be installed using a natural option or by using a commercial product to prevent water runoff.

2)    Subsurface Drainage Systems

Subsurface drainage systems often function when they are placed underneath the top layer of soil. This type of system is also known for its general term, ‘French drain.’ For this drainage system to work, it is essential to dig a ditch or trench to install underground pipes. After the water flows into the pipes, they will be transported to the assigned drain for collection.

Types of subsurface drainages

a.     Subsurface Pipes

Best for deep soils that are easy to shape due to their permeability. To install them, the soil is dug and then the pipes are fit in manually. After the placement, a backfill is necessary to cover the cavity.

b.    Mole Drainage

Best for areas that have heavy soil such as clay which can be stubborn when it comes to draining water. By plowing a mole, it allows the soil to transport the excess water into the drains.

c.     Interceptor Drains

Best for areas that have a steep slope as they can intercept the water once it flows down the incline. This allows the excess water to not reach the surface or low parts of the area where it can damage foundations or vegetation.

d.    Ground Water Pumps

Best for getting water from the porous layers of rocks we call aquifers. This method is usually essential in rural areas that do not have access to municipal water.

Other types of systems

Aside from the main types of drainage systems, there are also slope systems and drainage that make use of downspouts and gutters to control water runoff.

3)    Slope Drainage Systems

Basically, slope drains are made to control the runoff of water and allow it to flow downwards away from structures. This is achievable by making use of concrete, steel, or plastic pipes that are strategically placed on an incline to move the water away.

4)    Downspouts and Gutter Systems

Another type of system that can help with draining water away from our homes and buildings is a combination of a downspout and gutter system. On their own, downspouts are pipes that can carry away the rainwater from our roofs to a drain or to the ground. When we connect them with a gutter, then it can efficiently keep water away and prevent it from pooling in areas we do not want them to be.

Once the combined drainage systems are properly installed, they can transport the rainwater from roofs into the designated drains or sewers.

The different types and materials used for this type of system

a. Half-round gutters

Appears as a tube that looks like it has been cut in half, half-round gutters are the type of system that is usually found in older homes. They are easy to clean and are less likely to clog, however they can only handle a small amount of water and can be expensive to install.

b. K-style gutters

Appears in the shape of a letter K, they are the gutters that most modern homes use. They are easier to look at when it comes to their appeal but are more prone to clogging and corrosion.

c. Box Style gutters

Appears in the shape of a square or a box, they are the oversized gutters that commercial or industrial buildings use. This is because they are able to handle large amounts of water and can efficiently transport them to the selected drain.

d. Aluminum Gutters

This type of gutter material is popular for its waterproof and anti-corrosion capability. They can also last for 25 years, however, they may be bent before that time comes.

e. Copper Gutters

This type of gutter material is popular for its appeal and durability, however, it can be very expensive to install.

f. Galvanized Steel Gutters

This type of gutter material is popular for its strength. However, it must be installed by a professional and can be a heavy material for residential roofs.

g. Vinyl Gutters

This type of gutter material is popular for its affordability and ease of installation. However, they are not great in areas with extreme weather as they can go brittle or crack after being exposed to high temperatures.