Install a Channel Drain: Step by Step Guide

Need some pointers on installing a channel drain? Not to worry, check out the below step-by-step guide showing you how to install a channel drain.

Installation of a channel drain

Materials and tools for the job

Before you begin, here’s a list of materials and tools you should have ready:

  • Materials
    • Your channel drain with end caps and stormwater fittings
    • Cement
    • Building sand
  • Tools
    • A shovel for digging out the trench
    • A pick (should you hit rocks when digging)
    • A grinder with a masonry cutting disc (only if you need to cut into the concrete)
    • A float/plasterers trowel
    • PVC glue
    • Tape
    • Spirit level
    • Brickies string line
    • Safety glasses
    • Ventilation mask
    • Wheelbarrow (to mix cement in)

Dig the trench

The first step is to dig a trench for your channel drain to sit in.  The depth of the trench should be the height of the channel plus a minimum of 50mm to allow for a base of compacted sand to be laid at the bottom of the trench.

In regards to the width, you want the trench to also have ample space on either side of the channel (approx 100mm) to allow enough room for concrete to be added.

As you’ll need to smooth out a bed of sand prior to laying in the channel you also want to ensure it’s wide enough to allow for a float or plasterer’s trowel to smooth out the base sand.

Note, if you need to install the channel drain in a concreted area then you will to first cut out the concrete using a grinder (If you’re not skilled in using a grinder then this is a job I’d recommend outsourcing to a contractor to do)

Build a base for the channel drain

Once you’re happy with the trench, the next step is to lay a base of sand (approximately 50mm) that you can compact down for your channel drain to sit in.

Once you put the sand in the bottom of the channel you can then use a tamper or your float to go along and compact the base sand.  As you’re doing this ensure you use your spirit level to check that your base is level.

Prepare the channel drain

Before you insert the drain you want to do what you can to minimise the need of taking your drain out again once laid in.  Therefore, do the following:

  • Using a hole saw cut the hole for the outlet drainage pipe to be inserted
  • Run masking tape over the grates so they don’t get concrete on them or damaged during the install

Insert the channel drain

Once you’re happy with the trench and have your base sand laid in and compacted it’s now time to insert the drain.

However, before you do I would recommend running a string line from one end of the drench to the other in line with where you would like to outer edge of your channel drain to be.

This string line will then help with two things, first to ensure that your channel grate is straight and to also ensure it’s sitting at the right height.

When the drain is inserted, then ensure the outlet stormwater pipe is connected and check your drain is at the right height and level according to your string line.  If necessary, go along and add more sand or move the position of the drain to ensure it’s in line with the string line.

Concrete the base

Once you’re happy with the position of the drain you now want to mix up some concrete in your wheelbarrow and go along either side and place a decent bed of cement along the base of the channel drain.  This will ensure it remains where it is and doesn’t rise or move position over time.

Note, when adding the cement there is no need to add the cement all the way to the top of the drain.  I recommend inserting enough cement to cover half the side of the drain.  Once the cement is in you can then run your float along the cement to ensure it’s bedded down properly.

Backfill and remove the tape

Once the cement is dry (I usually allow at least 24hrs) you then want to backfill the soil you removed initially in and around the channel.  Once the soil is backfilled you then progress with installing the surrounding ground cover, whether it’s laying in concrete, pavers, or perhaps lawn.  Once this is complete you can then remove the tape from the grate.

Final thoughts

I hope you found this article helpful.  I plan to make a video demonstrating the above steps on how to install a channel drain.  This will be published to my youtube channel so be sure to head over a subscribe so you receive a notification once uploaded.

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