Easy Steps On Installing A Dry Well (Including Alternatives)


Major drainage systems solve one problem in particular: they prevent reckless water incidents by controlling water flow, and erosion, and allow for proper disposal. Installing a drainage system properly will not only block any chances of having it failed, it also provides a basis for you to utilize channeled water however way you choose to.

Failures to drainage systems stem from a lot of factors like slope, proximity, depth, and land. However, with having your own private drainage systems installed properly, there is a comforting smile of relief knowing your house won’t turn into a swamp site overnight; nature would have to work really, really hard to make that happen.

How do we go about that? We’ll be sharing it with you shortly.

Drainage systems are essential and vital for draining water away from your house, to be collected somewhere safe. There are few popular drainage systems out there. However, preference is king here. The natural drainage system makes use of natural systems. A perfect example is the ground grading system.

The main purpose of this drainage system is to collect waste water and ship it far away from your home to a safe area. If your house gets hit always with drainage problems after a heavy downpour, a ground grading is a good way to recover. Basically this involves altering the steepness of your land. Since water abides by the laws of gravity, a slope with the right gradient will drain water away from your property, saving you from a bigger mess next time. A visual example below;

sloped garde

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When the ground grading of your front yard/back yard is adjusted (or preferably all sides of your land), water huddling around can be shepherded away from your property and disposed away safely.

A good sloped level is important if you want to drain your wastewater and other liquids away from your home. Another style of draining your wastewater is using artificial drainage systems. These particular are the kinds floating around, and being installed in homes now.

A popular example is the use of a DRY WELL SYSTEM. A dry well is not a typical 500 ft (6000 inches) deep well for conserving water. Rather, this kind of well is usually 3 to 5 feet deep. A dry well system uses a sort of perforated storage container that seats at the base of the dug well. It is connected to downspouts and other plumbing lines that ferry water away from your home.

dry well

Wastewater channeled to the dry well is dispersed around the surrounding soil with the aid of air. If you are constantly being threatened with a flooding rain, the dry well helps to collect water from your rooftops through the downspout and transport them away safely.

French drains are another good example of drainage systems doing the rounds. Basically, they transport water away from your homes, however, unlike the dry well which disperses them underground or evenly, your wastewater is ferried to an open area if there are no dry wells. Sometimes this could damage the soil structure, breaking it up and causing pollution and erosion.

Dry wells, French drains play one vital role in the home–collecting and disposing unwanted water especially common ones collected from rains, surface runoffs etc.

If you are constantly being menaced by runoffs from storms that have stripped your land apart and leaving it a barren horrid sight. Or getting a negative vibe from your neighbours when your wastewater encroaches their green and well-trimmed lawns, Dry wells are just one of means you can claw out of the ugly situation.

When water comes pelting down hard and the surrounding soil cannot swallow up enough water, this could pose a great issue. Rainfall collected from rooftops through downspouts or those rolling against the hard floor need to be drained. If a proper drainage system is installed with a dry well at a good end, this can be a quick fix.

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Apart from collecting waters from storms, dry wells also collect grey water. Grey water is wastewater from sinks, toilets, bathrooms, washing machines etc.

Factors To Consider Before Installing A Dry Well

Installing a dry well is dependent on a lot of factors. Whether it is right or wrong for you isn’t just by your gut feeling tugging you to accept or reject the idea. It’s majorly based on where you are located. You could install it, and it turns out that you probably didn’t need it after all, then you begin to feel the sting of how much you splashed getting your dry well planted around your house.

For some areas, dry wells are not usually necessary especially if you are within a community with an excellent drainage system, you need not worry. While that is something to chew on, in some other communities where there are plenty of home owners, they are calls to have one installed. This is to avoid getting raps on your door, and neighbours yelling out how you ruined their garden because you couldn’t take care of your mess.

The filtration rate is another factor based on your location, checking how fast the soil underneath can drain water from the top soil at this stage comes into play. 

To achieve this, you will have to dig a 4-5 feet hole in the soil. You could dig more if you want. Pour water in it; observe how fast the water is absorbed. Don’t just do this on a pocket of land, but in different areas or you can reach the geotechnical engineer/land surveyor responsible for your area to find out the level of the water table and the soil’s seepage rate

Record your observations, conclude if your area is suitable for having a dry well and if so, pick whichever area has the fastest absorption rate is to dig a pit and install your dry well.

Identifying the size you want and how many, needs to be considered too. Size matters if you are constantly being troubled by heavy rainfall. Here you could decide to opt for a deeper and wider dry well. If neighbours are not worried about installing a dry well to each downspouts instead of transporting water to just one dry well, then by every means carry on.

Dry wells can be installed professionally by hiring an expert or you could do it yourself.

How To Install A Dry Well By Yourself

Installing a dry well is quite easy. With these steps we will help you complete one in no time.

Decide On What You Need

Runoffs from storms are damaging if they form a pool, or worse erode your land. The amount of water that sits idly outside your home can help determine if just digging a trench few inches and filling them up with rocks like granites Or, choosing to have a dry well with a plastic/ concrete container open at various points. If you experience plenty of rainfall the latter is better. You can choose to have a small dry well or a larger one, depending on the amount of rainfall.

Choose Your Spots

Location is important if you want to install your dry well. Blindly choosing a spot that can’t absorb water effectively could turn out to be erosive in the long run. This is why you need to do a percolation test or consulting geotechnical personnel. It requires making a hole in the soil, filling them up with water and finally observing which one soaks up water faster.

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Water works with gravity. A good slope, not a downhill kind of slope, but just a tad bit steep is okay for runoffs. With these two things at the back of your mind, you are good to select your spot for your dry well

Dig Through The Ground

Before digging you have to be properly kitted. Since this is a home activity, it is important you have your boots on to avoid getting hit. A mattock, grab hoe, shovel, spades are great digging tools to start with. Before digging a big hole for your well, dig the trenches first leading to your dry well to make things easier. Trenches are usually 5- 7 inches deep, to fit the pipes. The trenches should slope at least 1/4 inches for each foot (or 1 cm per meter) of pipe you put. When digging your dry well, the depth of the hole has to be three times bigger than the size of your dry well because of the wastewater that will be going in there.

Lay Your PVC Pipes

Adapt to the down spouts and measure the length of your trenches to the end of your hole where you want to install your dry well. Once done, bring in your pipes and install.

You have two kinds of pipes. The solid pipes which take your wastewater straight from your downspouts to the dry well. These are not usually perforated. Then you have the perforated pipes which are usually surrounded by gravel. When installing the perforated pipes have them attached to the solid pipes. Then wrapped them in a fabric landscape material with gravel around it. The gravels help ease the flow of water while the fabric materials keeps sands and grimes from entering the gravels and clogging the holes on the perforated pipe.

Fill Up The Hole That Houses The Dry Well

Before pouring a bucket filled with gravel into your dry well, line the sides with landscape fabric. Then pour your gravel. This is to ensure that particles from the soil do not interfere with the water process. If they block or occupy the spaces within the rocks, it could impede the flow of water and slow the drainage process.

Next, install the plastic or concrete shell on top of the gravels, and finally wiggle in the perforated pipe about 6 inches in through a hole near the top of the shell. Surround the remaining space with stone and gravel, close the well, and wrap it up with the landscape fabric.

Cover The Dry Well

After backfilling in and around the dry well till you get to the top, wrapping up the dry well with the landscape fabric, close it and put a pop-up bell. The pop-up valve saves the dry well from collapsing during long sheets of rainfall which raises the water level of the base soil. When completely closed, the pop-up bell is pushed up by the rising water and as many litres as possible are allowed to run off elsewhere. Close the surrounding trenches housing the pipes. Seal up the dry well with the surrounding soil.

Below is a detailed video of the process to help you further understand:

How To Install A Dry Well Professionally

These require a professional approach and are usually done by a hired expert.

  • Lay out pipes from the end of your downspouts to the location of the dry well. Pipes that are usually used are 4-inches wide in diameter. Standard pipes of length–10-feet–each is a good start. These are followed by perforated pipes. The perforated pipes should be 10-feet in length also.
  • With pipes following a particular path already, dig along each side of the standard pipes. A small chunk of 2 inches should be cut off away from the standard pipes. This should be done on either side.
  • Take a 6-inches gap upon getting to the perforated pipes. Cut-off 6-inches of soil on either side of the perforated pipes.
  • Take the pipes aside, and dig 6-8 inches deep for your trench.
  • Set the pipes properly into the dug trenches. Ensure they are evenly spaced about ¼ inch per foot (in slope) toward the dry well. To achieve this, use a 4-foot level.
  • For the remainder of the trench length still naked, introduce a landscape fabric. The fabric should be covered with at least 2-inches of stone and gravel.
  • Carefully set the perforated pipe on the stone. Once set, add more stones and gravels. Then wrap up the perforated pipes with the fabric.
  • Use a 90 degree PVC elbow and a downspout fitting to connect the end of your downspouts to your laid out standard pipes.
  • Spaces around the pipes perimeter need to be covered. Back-fill them with the soil around the trenches dug.
  • Dig a hole that is usually three times bigger (in width and height) than your dry well, near the open end of the perforated pipes away from your downspouts.
  • Use a landscape fabric to line the well. Pour 4-6 inches of stones and gravel into the bottom of your well hole. Ensure they are evenly spread.
  • Fit in your dry well into the hole (plastic or concrete.) Ensure the extended end of the perforated pipes is fitted into the ring of the dry well.
  • Fill up spaces around the well with stones and gravels.
  • Set the plastic on the dry well. And lock properly. Usually this is done using a rubber hammer.
  • Attach a pop-up bell or valve at the top of the dry well. This is to check excess water especially during heavy downpours.
  • Use the surrounding soil to cover the well. Do not bury the pop-up valve.
  • Clean up the areas surrounding the dry well. Plant grass seeds to hold the soil together.
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Why A Dry Well Drainage Is Ideal For You

Is investing in a dry well drainage system the ideal path to follow? Below are some amazing reasons why a dry well installation is best for you.

  • They are extremely adaptable and flexible. Most can handle speedy runoffs from roofs, waters from sumps pump, driveways, gutters etc.
  • With enough air going through the rocks, this helps maintain a healthy water level in the soil. In return, it keeps the well dry all the times.
  • It is very affordable and aids irrigation.

Maintaining A Dry Well

Dry wells last a good period of time. However, they can collapse if you ignored warning signs that may lead to their damage.

If a dry well is entirely clogged up, the only solution here is to re-excavate and repack the pit. However,  to avoid this, ensure the gutters and downspouts are cleaned regularly to eliminate grimes and other soil particles that can potentially block the perforated holes of your pipes or well when they reach underground. If you have downspouts running from your kitchen sinks, bathrooms etc. to your dry well, install a filter on your drain line to keep away soap scum and other particles that clog pipes.