Drain Definitions

ADS Drain Pipe – is black and flexible.  It is used in a majority of Drainage Systems for home and small business applications.  It is the easiest of the 3 types of Drain Pipe to install.  It is very durable and relatively inexpensive.

Curb Outlet –  An Exit mechanism for a Drainage System.  It is installed by cutting curb with a concrete saw.  Then placing the rectangular fitting in the cut out and placing concrete around it and letting it dry.

Drain Basin – A square or round drainage container that is designed to be connected to a drain pipe.  It will have a round or square grate on top to allow water to drain in to the container.  A Drain Basin is  below ground with the top edge being at ground level.  The Drain Grate sits on the top edge.

Drain Grate – The perforated Drain Cover that allows water to drain into a Drain Basin.

Drainage System –  A System installed to move water out of a problem drainage area to an exit where the water can be released.  A Drainage System has 3 parts.  An “Intake,” A “Transition,” and an “Exit.”

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Drainage Intake – The initial part of a Drainage System Designed to Take in Water into the Drainage System.   Typically an Drainage Intake is a French Drain or a Surface Drain or even a Sump Pump.

Drain Pipe – Another name for a Drainage Transition.  It is the Pipe in a Drainage System that takes the water from the Intake to the Exit.

Drainage Transition – This is the Drain Pipe that moves the water from the intake (French Drain or Surface Drain) to the Exit.

Drainage Trench – The Trench that is dug to run from the French Drain or Surface Drain being installed to the Exit Point.  The Drain Pipe is installed in the Drainage Trench and is connected to the Drain and the Exit.

Drainage Exit – The place where the Drain Pipe (Transition) releases water from the Drainage System.  Typically by a Pop Up Emitter or a Curb outlet.

Fall – The Slope on a hillside that allows water to run down hill.  It can be very steep or very slight.  Perfectly level “No Fall” is not good for a Drainage System.  Too Steep is not good either.

Flood Prevention System – A type of Drainage System with the intent of Intercepting moving water before it gets to the Problem Drainage Area.  A Flood Prevention System is more robust with larger and more Drains, larger Drain Pipes, and more and larger Drainage Exits.

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French Drain – A French Drain  is a perforated pipe that is basically full of slits or holes.  A trench is dug across the problem drainage area.  The dirt from the trench is hauled away.  The perforated pipe is placed in the trench.  The Drainage trench is dug deep enough so that the perforated French Drain Pipe is several inches below ground level when placed in the trench.  Next gravel or some type of crushed stone is placed on top and around the French Drain perforated pipe until the trench is full.


Pop-Up Emitter – An Exit mechanism for a Drainage System.  It is placed at the end of the drain Pipe and pops up when water reaches it and releases the water down the hill.

Problem Drainage Area – A place that water gets into that you want to drain it away from or prevent it from getting there in the first place.

PVC Drain Pipe –  It is Rigid similar to Sewer and Drain Pipe but it is much thicker.  It is more durable than Sewer and Drain or ADS Drain Pipe.  It is also more expensive and much harder to work with.  A PVC Drainage System is superior to ADS or Sewer and Drain Systems.  It is not for beginners or “Weekend Warriors.”  Experience is a Must!

Setting The Flow of a Drainage System –  This is a process to determine if water will flow downhill along the course of your Drainage System.  This is done in situations where its hard to tell if your Drainage Trench runs down hill or not.

Start digging the trench where the drain pipe will run.   Lets say for example that the entire Drainage System will run about 60 feet.  Start digging where the drain will be.  Typically a 4 inch drain pipe will need to be installed in a trench 8 to 16 inches deep, depending on your needs.  Dig about 10 feet from where the drain will be toward the exit point.  The Drainage Trench should be at least 8 inches deep, and about 10 feet long toward the exit,  Take a hose and place it in the trench where the drain will be installed. There should not be pipe in the trench at this time, just the empty trench.

Turn on the hose so a small amount of water is coming out.  The water will start to flow down the trench from where the drain will be, toward the exit.  Again there is no drain pipe in the trench.

Watch the water as it flows down the Drainage Trench.   In some areas it will flow quickly which is good.  Look for areas where water flows more slowly and begins to pool.  Once this occurs, turn off the hose and get your shovel.  With water still in the trench, dig downhill from the pooling spot.  Remove the dirt that is slowing the waters flow toward the exit.  Repeat this process until you have reached the exit point of the Drainage System.

This may seem like a lot of unnecessary work.  Believe me it is worth it.  Once the water flows at a fairly steady rate all the way to the exit, you have ” Set the Flow of the Drain.”


Sewer and Drain Pipe is white, green, or grey and is thin walled.  It is used for cheap plumbing applications such as sewer lines.  It is also used for inexpensive Drainage Systems.  A Drainage System using Sewer and Drain Pipe is slightly cheaper than ADS.   It is rigid and harder to install than ADS. It takes more time to install and more digging is required at the joints or connections.  It is very difficult attaching a rigid Drain Pipe to a Curb outlet because the Pipe does not flex at the connection.  The pipe hits the curb outlet at a downward angle and does line up straight with the connection.  Many Drain Installation Companies use a piece of ADS on the end of the Sewer and Drain pipe and then connect it to the curb outlet.  Many times there is no other way to connect them depending on your downward slope.


Surface Drain – A Surface Drain has a grate that sits on top of a basin.  The basin is underground.  A Drain Pipe is connected underground to an outlet on the Drain BasinStorm-Water Drains through the grate into the Drain Basin.  Once in the Drain Basin, water travels out of the basin through a Drain Pipe.  The Storm-Water continues downhill in an underground Drain Pipe to an exit point.

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