Placeholder Considerations for Choosing a Trench Drain System


Considerations for Choosing a Trench Drain System

Drainage systems protect buildings and property inside them from water damage. Drainage systems vary, and some applications are better for certain types of buildings. Put on your checklist these considerations for choosing a trench drain system to help you select the best drainage for your property.

Load Capacity

Linear drainage systems in manufacturing plants, warehouses, car washes, and even at airports must stand up to heavy equipment and vehicles that roll across them. Trench drains have grates on top that may be made from plastic, stainless steel, or iron. Yet even the strongest grate will suffer wear over time and may need to be replaced. Slot drains, another version of a trench drain, are narrower and don’t have grates. Instead, they integrate into the surrounding floor at the exact floor level.

Flow Rate, Slope, and Capacity

The width of a drain will determine how much water it can carry at a time. Businesses that are constantly wet, like car washes, may need a larger-capacity drain to keep water from pooling inside. The drain delivers water into an attached pipe that then carries it away to the appropriate exit point according to local regulations. Some drains are “pre-sloped” to ensure the water travels continuously to the pipe. In other applications, the landscape itself provides sufficient slope. Areas subject to spring flooding and severe storms may have to plan for the most extreme event possible, even if such a flood comes once every decade or so.

Managing Debris

Drains in outdoor hardscapes must contend with debris from the surrounding landscape—leaves, twigs grass, and dirt can get into a drain and cause a slowdown or a backup. Grates usually handle the problem, but sometimes drains are coupled with catch basins so that sediment, sand, and other debris settle to the bottom of the basin and don’t impede the flow of water to the exit pipe.

Attractive Appearance

Outdoor trench and slot drains are often used in driveways, walkways, and around other paved public surfaces. Patios, stone or brick walkways, and areas around fountains or public plazas require drainage that doesn’t mar the appearance of the space. Slot or trench drains that are well designed to integrate with the overall look of the hardscape will complement, and not detract, from the impact of the space.

Drainage system designers must also be conscious of preexisting applications like manhole covers that provide access for utilities underneath. They must integrate the drain system without interfering with those other important installations.

Ease of Cleaning

Standing water is a hazard. It attracts insects and encourages bacteria to grow. For some applications, ease of cleaning is a major consideration when selecting a drainage system, especially in regulated environments like food service, laboratories, and animal hospitals. Grates are removable so they can be cleaned and sanitized along with the channel of the drain itself.

Resistance to Heat and Corrosion

Some businesses may discharge hot or corrosive liquids into the trench drain system if permitted by environmental regulations. Some drain materials stand up to heat better than others. Drains come in plastic, fiberglass, and metal versions. Consider issues like temperature and chemicals when selecting a drain system.


Laws and regulations may govern the selection of drains and grates. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that grates accommodate wheelchairs, crutches, and other mobility aids without interference. Other drains may be subject to design and environmental regulations. Find out what laws and regulations apply to your property before selecting a drainage system.

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