Drain Tile Installation in Ann Arbor, MI
For the most part, drain tile is simple and straightforward. Water runs from the high point to the low point. The entire length of the tile should slope downwards and should be able to accommodate the amount of water that will enter the tile. Lastly, it should get the water far enough away that it wont cause any problems later. The confusion can start when choosing materials. Will black corrugated tile work? Perforated or non-perforated? Do I need filter fabric? These are all common questions that will be answered below.
Corrugated vs. Triple Walled vs. PVC
Corrugated tile is the cheapest option for both materials and labor. It's flexible, giving a lot of leeway with how the trench must be dug. From my experience, the tile eventually has problems with roots if they are close to large trees. It should be noted that because the interior of the tile is not smooth, corrugated tile can't be snaked out if it gets clogged.
The second option is tripled walled pipe. The actual pipe costs a little more and the installation will take more time than corrugated. It is sturdier and more impervious to tree roots though. It's smooth interior means it can be snaked out if clogged with debris. For most situations, triple walled pipe is my favorite option.
The last option is PVC pipe. PVC is a great option for areas that might be driven over or receive substantial weight. For most residential purposes, I believe it is more than is necessary. The pieces must be glued together. Also the pipe does not flex so trenches must be dug to fit the pipe, which can be quite time consuming. It is worth saying that PVC tile should never have to be replaced under normal conditions.
Another source of confusion can be whether to use solid or perforated tile. Drain tile has two purposes. The first is to transport water, the second is to collect water. If transporting water, solid tile should be used. If collecting water, perforated tile should be used. It is important not to use perforated tile for the sole purpose of transporting water because water can leach out. This means the water never reaches it's final destination and can create soggy areas in the landscape. Perforated tile is also more likely to have problems with tree roots.
The last common question is whether to use filter fabric, especially when creating a French drain. If perforated tile is used, it should be encased in a "sock". This keeps soil from entering the tile, but allows water to flow through. The tile is covered with pea stone and then soil. Many people think there should be fabric between the pea stone and soil to prevent settling. However, once established, the turf will hold the soil in place. The fabric can slow down the draining of water, defeating the purpose of the French drain.
Installing drain tile is not most people's idea of a good time. However, it can be the best option to fix many destructive drainage problems. Since drain tile is buried, it's important to make sure the right materials are used. No one wants to have to complete a drainage project twice!