Driveway Drainage Tips

How to plot and maintain your driveway drainage system

When constructing a driveway and installing a drainage system, it is important to remember that each step of the process is just as significant as the last. The end goal should always be to have a driveway that’s durable enough to endure even the harshest weather conditions and a drainage system that eliminates the irritating concerns of flooded garages, puddles, and wet lawns. This means that everything, from the materials you use to the construction techniques you choose, should be properly thought out and carefully executed. The important pieces that make up this puzzle include effective materials, a proper base, correct pitch and grade, and the potential use of a drain.

What Makes a Good Base?

In order to set up an operative driveway drainage system, you’ll need to start with a quality granular base. What this means is that you’ll want to use permeable materials that can closely pack together and drain water from underneath the driveway so as to protect the surface, like crushed stone or recycled concrete and asphalt. Aside from composition, you should also be concerned with thickness. The standard for thickness will depend on the soil beneath it; so the expectation for bases over a poor-draining clay soil would be 8 inches, whereas bases over a well-draining sandy soil would be 4 inches. Once you have an understanding of what type of materials you’ll be using and what type of soil you’re dealing with, you can begin.
Some points to keep in mind: (1) Soil should be smooth and firm and can be compacted using machinery such as heavy drum roller or plate compactor. (2) The granular base should be spread and compacted to adequate thickness depending on the soil. (3) You should allow around one week for the base to settle naturally. (4) Asphalt should be mixed to the right temperature and should be done in warm, dry weather if possible. (5) Asphalt should be laid at 2 inches, then immediately compacted before cooling, typically using a heavy roller.

The Perfect Pitch and Grade

To ensure your driveway will drain properly, pitch and grade must be properly done. This means that when laying concrete or asphalt, you must slant it slightly to allow water runoff. The pitch should be a minimum of 1 inch for every 10 feet, but 1 1/2 inches is recommended. If this is not done, it will almost definitely result in a water problem. This is because rather than having a driveway that slopes downward toward the street, you will likely end up having a driveway that’s more level which will allow water to remain in one spot, or worse, slant back in the direction of your home. With that said, driveways should be pitched away from the house toward the street and if you’re able to, it’s best to do so in more than one direction.

Drains and Draining Systems

Now that you understand the basics of laying and pitching your driveway materials, you can begin to consider a drainage system. Installing a driveway drainage system will ensure water will move down your driveway rather than standing still or going back up so long as the proper pitch has been set. A Footing drain will likely be your best bet. Footing drains require a grade of at least 1% per 8 feet to adequately move water, which you will already have if you’ve followed the tips above. A drainpipe will need to be installed, which can be covered with filter fabric and decorative stone or gravel to allow the water to drain. If you have the means to install a drain, it will be worth it as it will only end up contributing to the longevity of your driveway.

Keep Your Driveway Safe

Although your driveway may not appear to be a major asset to the value of your home when held in comparison to other features, it certainly is of importance. If done correctly from the start, maintaining the health of your driveway will be necessary much less often. So if you do decide that replenishing your driveway is something you wish to do, take stock of the materials you’re planning on using at the start, make sure you’re setting it so water flows down and away, and consider the beneficial option of investing in a drainage system. When the East Coast winter and all that comes with it reaches your area, you won’t regret the time you spent keeping your home and driveway safe from its effects

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