Thursday, 14 August 2008

Drainage Systems For Your New Home - Storm Or Foul - Whats the Difference?

What is the difference between a Storm Drain and a Foul Drain?

Essentially the difference is this. A storm drain captures all the runoff water from your roof, from your street and garden and takes it away through pipes to either a main storm drain if you are in a town or city or to a land drain, river or lake if you are in a rural area.

A foul drain takes everything else, to a septic tank if you are living in a rural area or to a main foul drainage system if you are living in a town or city. Foul as the word implies includes everything from your bathroom, toilets, showers, kitchen sinks etc. i.e. all the foul substances that are the normal by-product of everyday living.

The general rule with drains both storm and foul is to keep it simple. Drains have a tendency to get blocked if there are too many bends, so the idea is to place as few bends as possible and to keep the fall somewhere in the region of 1-40. If you have to put a bend in the line then place an inspection chamber at the point where the bend occurs. This will allow you to rod the line easily should anything get blocked at a later date. Also you should place a manhole every 12 metres to conform to good practice.

Plastic pipes are now the most common type of drainage used although clay pipes can still be used. Plastic pipes must be completed covered in and bedded to a minimum of 100mm using 10mm pea gravel.

The general depth of plastic pipes ranges from 450mm in grassed areas to 900mm under drives or footpaths. You are required to place a 100mm cover of concrete to protect the pipes from damage when laid in these areas.

The good thing about plastic pipes is that because they are all push fit, lightweight and easy to lay, any self-builder can lay their own drainage system.

Ed Gordon is a Timber Frame specialist with a keen interest in Energy Efficiency and reducing the construction Carbon Footprint. For more information go to

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