Surface VS Subsurface Drainage – Dallas Fort Worth Drainage Design

Dallas Fort Worth Landscape Drainage – Lee Engineering Company

When our drainage experts visit homes in the Arlington and Dallas – Fort Worth area, we always take the time to discuss the importance of proper drainage. As many already know, poor or improper drainage can lead to a plethora of problems including foundation damage, erosion, and rot. When dealing with excess water accumulation in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex, it’s important to understand the difference between subsurface and surface drainage solutions. There are many misconceptions regarding these two methods of drainage design, so we’ve put together a brief introduction to help clear the air.

Surface Drainage VS Subsurface Drainage

What is a surface drainage system?

Surface drains are very common and provide a safe, convenient drainage system. Surface drains feature grating installed flush with the surface of the soil. Surface drainage installation is pretty straightforward and, since they are made of durable plastic material, surface drains are resistant to corrosion and breakage. Surface drains can be used in concrete areas such as parking lots and garages where water tends to accumulate.

Are French drains surface drainage?

drainage solutions

The typical French drain is designed as a trench and contains perforated pipes to absorb slow-moving underground (subsurface) water. French drain installation in Dallas Fort Worth. Lee Engineering – Since 1971

No, the typical French drain is designed as a trench and contains perforated pipes to absorb slow-moving underground (subsurface) water. By design, the purpose of a French drain is to mitigate groundwater. However, in Texas, we often see combo drainage systems that feature both a French drain (subsurface) and a catch basin (surface) for periods of heavy rainfall.

When do we need surface drainage?

Surface drainage is typically needed when there are issues with standing water around a property. Pooling water in a yard, driveway, or roadway, is a potential safety hazard and can cause property damage. During the summer in North Texas, standing water acts as a perfect breeding environment for mosquitoes.
When implementing surface drainage solutions in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex, our goal is to remove water quickly after heavy rainfall.

Surface Drainage Systems – Dallas Fort Worth Arlington TX

There are two primary methods that Lee Engineering uses for Dallas Fort Worth surface drainage solutions:

    1. The first surface drainage method involves installing an underground drainage system that consists of a solid pipe, not a perforated pipe. Every now and again an underground drainage system is designed with perforated pipes, but a solid pipe is typically preferred for Dallas Fort Worth residential homes. Solid pipes are less likely to become clogged with debris, are able to transfer water quickly, and resist damage in clay soil conditions. In areas with high volume and fast-moving water accumulation, you will often see large concrete-lined surface level drainage ditches. This design minimizes erosion and prevents flooding to homes and roadways.
    2. Subsurface drainage design by the garden prevents standing water and erosion. Surface Drainage Design – Dallas Fort Worth

      The second strategy for addressing surface drainage problems in Dallas Fort Worth is to systematically contour the land. Our technicians grade the soil in a slope route water away from problem areas and prevent standing water. This is especially important if you have standing water near your home’s foundation. Water accumulation near a concrete slab or pier and beam foundation can cause major foundation damage, mold, and rot. The image below shows a surface drainage system lined with river rock for an attractive yard drainage solution.

Surface Drainage Systems – Soil Grading and Contouring

Surface drainage systems also use soil grading and contouring to redirect water flow. For these drainage solutions, we often use drainage swales or flumes (commonly referred to as ditches). One of the benefits of drainage wells is that they tend to be a more attractive drainage solution since they are often lined with grass. After the soil is contoured to promote water flow to the designated low-point, sod is laid in the ditch to “dress it up.” In some cases, a grass flume or swale is not an option because there’s not enough slope to promote water flow. Under those circumstances, we would use hard surface drainage design (such as a concrete or stone-lined ditch).

Subsurface Drainage – How It Works

As discussed earlier, underground (subsurface) drainage systems combine collection basins (also known as catch basins), and solid pipe to route water away from problem areas. Installing an underground drainage system involves digging trenches through the yard and installing strategically-placed collection basins. We then build an underground tunnel system to transfer water to the desired outlet location.

A Dallas Fort Worth drainage system fails due to improper soil grading during installation.

There are two critical factors to an underground drainage system:

  1. The pipe must be laid at a consistent downward slope from the inlet location to the outlet. Without a proper slope in the pipe, drainage runoff will fail to reach the outlet location.
  2. The second critical factor for an efficient underground drainage system is properly grading the soil surrounding each catch basin to direct rainwater into the inlet.This step is important because water must reach the drainage system for it to perform as designed. We get calls from homeowners all the time with standing water issues, even though they have existing drainage systems in their yard. More often than not, the drainage system has failed because the soil is not properly graded.

Water Pooling Near Home Foundation

When dealing with standing water near a concrete slab or pier and beam foundation, we must take extra caution to prevent damage. The drainage design must be carefully executed to maintain moisture balance in the soil around a home’s foundation. Our goal is to rapidly move water away from the structure to the ultimate discharge point, eliminating standing water. If foundation damage has already occurred, we recommend getting a foundation drainage evaluation by a Licensed Professional Engineer.

For more than 50 years, Lee Engineering provides custom drainage systems for homeowners in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex. After decades of experience with Texas’ unique soil conditions, we’ve learned a few things about drainage engineering. As such, we’ve made it our mission to spread the word and help DFW homeowners enjoy healthy landscapes, healthy foundations, and a healthier planet.

Call 817-277-6022 to schedule a drainage evaluation with our Dallas Fort Worth Drainage Experts.

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