How to install Channel Drainage

how to install channel drainage

Read Our ‘How to Install Channel Drainage’ Guide 

If you’re looking to prevent standing water on a large paved, tarmacked or concreted area you may be considering installing channel drainage.

A channel drain provides a neat, tidy and fairly simple drainage solution – but unless it’s installed properly, you might not get the result you were hoping for – and, if you’re not careful, you can sometimes end up just moving your water problem somewhere else. As such, we’ve put a guide together that goes into detail about:

  • What channel drainage is and some typical uses
  • The different components in a channel drain installation
  • The 11-step process of installing channel drainage
  • Some important channel drainage dos and don’ts

What is a channel drain?

Channel drains are occasionally referred to as linear or Aco drains – and the chances are, you’ve probably walked or driven over one in the last 24 hours. Channel drains are a completely unobtrusive, neat and tidy drainage solution that’s used everywhere from the smallest internal domestic settings, right up to large scale industrial locations.

Despite a neat and tidy presentation, a channel drain will move large quantities of water. Sections of channel drain are much longer than they are wide, giving enormous volume – and have a cross-section design that contains the flow from the surrounding surfaces.

Plastic channel drainage or composite channel drainage options are the most commonly installed. Grate covers can also be either plastic or composite, occasionally cast iron or stainless steel – and sometimes one-piece formed to increase strength.

Domestic channel drainage usually has a load capacity of 5 tonnes – with a 1.25 tonne point load; making it ideal for driveways, paving and patio areas. Commercial channel drainage often has a greater load capacity, making it suitable for even the most testing industrial setting, in fact, channel drainage is even often used to keep commercial runways clear of standing water.

Typical channel drainage uses

Channel drains are suitable for an enormous range of settings.

Domestic channel drainage is commonly used on driveways, patio areas, pavements and conservatories – and sometimes in wet rooms, kitchens and garages.

Commercial channel drainage appears in countless settings, particularly because of its increased load tolerance – making it ideal for areas that see heavy footfall or traffic, such as building entrances, pedestrian precincts, car parks and railway platforms. The large load capacity of a channel drain also makes it a viable option for swimming pools, parks, water features and outdoor sports areas too.

Channel drain components and options

There are typically 6 channel drain components that feature in a standard installation, they are:

  • Channel drain sections: The main part of the drainage installation, usually supplied in 1m lengths and coming with slotted ends, allowing for quick locking together of sections. Each section will have an outlet in the base that allows for downward drainage into a 110mm drainage pipe.
  • End outlets: An end outlet allows a channel drain section to be connected to a standard (usually 110mm) drainage pipe at the end of the run, rather than the bottom.
  • Grating: Usually made of PVC, composite or stainless steel, the grating sits virtually flush to the surrounding area, providing a non-slip surface for overhead traffic but adequate water access to the channel below.
  • End caps: End caps allow you to put a watertight seal on the highest end of the installation or specific run.
  • Quad sections: A quad section allows for up to 4 standard sections to be connected at 90-degree angles, allowing the installation to work around corners – or meet another section at a T-junction.
  • Sump units: A sump is optional – but offers a silt basket that helps to prevent blockages – and usually includes a water trap that’ll prevent any odour relating to standing water.

Channel drain components are typically bought individually, although some manufacturers, such as Flexseal, offer a ‘garage pack’ – a kit that usually contains 3 x 1m channels, an end cap and an end outlet.

If you’re keen to keep your project as green as possible, the idea of plastic channel drainage and composite channel drainage might not sound so appealing – but don’t worry, there are fully recycled (and recyclable) options.

It’s worth looking at the EnviroChannel range from PDS if yours or your client’s carbon footprint and green credentials is a factor in your material selection. You won’t be compromising on strength either, the one-piece construction offers an increased load tolerance over virtually anything else on the market.

How do you install channel drainage?

We’ve broken the installation of domestic channel drainage down into 11 steps – with some detail around what you should do at each point:

Step 1:

You should start by digging a trench for your installation. You’ll need to go deep enough for at least 50mm of compacted sand as a base – and wide enough for a minimum of 100mm backfill of concrete on either side.

Step 2:

Attach a string line to indicate the finishing height of the grate. This should be 2mm lower than the surrounding surface level when finished.

Step 3:

You should allow a 1:200 fall: 5mm for every 1m channel drain section.

Step 4:

Installation of sections should begin at the lowest point – where your section meets the water drain. Start with complete channel sections – and use any section that’s required cutting to length at the end; the highest point, furthest from the outlet.

Step 5:

When your first section is in place, subsequent sections will locate themselves with the help of the connecting slots at both ends of the sections and quad connectors. Sections should be installed with the grate in place, allowing for height accuracy against surrounding surfaces.

Step 6:

Fit an end cap to your final section, prior to locating it into your trench. The end cap should always feature at highest point of your channel drain.

Step 7:

The locating grooves on each section should be sealed with silicone sealant to improve water resistance and increase durability.

Step 8:

Using either an additional end cap or the preformed channel bottom moulding, attach the section to your desired 110mm underground drainage pipe, allowing collected water to disperse.

Step 9:

When your sections are in place – but prior to pouring concrete – protect the grated sections with a heavy duty exterior masking tape. Ensure you mask completely, as the grate is often (but not always) designed to be removed. Make sure you use a tape that’s designed to stay in place for at least the amount of time it will take for your concrete to set.

Step 10:

Pour your concrete to create a 2mm height difference above the grate section of your channel drainage components.

Step 11:

The next step involves waiting! You should leave your concrete for at least 72 hours, allowing adequate curing time before exerting any pressure on the channel drainage components. This includes weight – so avoid walking or crossing the channel drains with vehicles, and also includes removing the grate, as the upward pressure could dislodge the drain section body if concrete isn’t 100% set.

Channel drain dos and don’ts

Our 11-step guide is fairly comprehensive and will cover what’s required, whether you’re fitting plastic channel drainage or composite channel drainage. However, there are some crucial dos and don’t that you need to make sure you observe.

DO: Start at the point where your channel drain sections will meet the drainage pipe or soakaway. This is likely to be a fixed point – so, if you start elsewhere, even a slight miscalculation or variation in the ground can lead to major adjustments being required.

DO: Ensure you’ve got a connection to a suitable water drain or soakaway, without adequate drainage you could cause a build-up of water elsewhere on your property.

DO: Mask your grates properly. Concrete over-spilling into the section can be difficult to remove and, if it impedes your ability to open or clean the grate, you might struggle to keep your channel drains free from debris.

DON’T: Direct water so it runs on to or impacts properties near you. You could expose yourself to disputes and legal action if you damage neighbouring homes or properties.

DON’T: Connect your domestic channel drain to foul drains without first gaining written permission from your local authority or council planning department.

DON’T: Exceed the weight tolerance for your channel drainage sections. Broken grates can cause injury or damage to property, and will often damage the full section, included the fixed moulded body, meaning it then needs to be entirely replaced.

Choosing the right products

Even following our guide perfectly, your job and results can still come up short if you don’t select the right products for your channel drain installation.

Quality materials should be guaranteed against breakage before, during and after installation. Also, look for channel drainage components that are compliant with BS-EN1433 standards and ideally meet a load classification of at D400 kN – as well as carrying the mark of conformity and the British Kitemark Certification Mark.

The EnviroChannel D400 range delivers these assurances – as well as being an exceptionally priced and environmentally sound option. You can visit EasyMerchant’s EnviroChannel D400 product pages to read about them in more detail and see some easy-to-follow installation videos.

For domestic channel drainage, you can visit EasyMerchant’s Plastic Channel Drainage product pages here for more information and prices.

Still unsure?

We’ve written an answer to the frequently asked question Which channel drainage rating should I use?” please click here to read the handy guide

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