All posts by Michael Schroer

New “Cathedral” Grating for NDS Mini Channel

Trench Drain Systems expanded its decorative offering for NDS Mini Channel with a new pattern of bronze and aluminum grating. The design, borrowed from Chester Cathedral in Chester, England, (shown below) is heel-proof, subdued and stylish.   It adds a solemn aesthetic to the hardscape and hints of a yearning for the innocence of old.

Chester Cathedral, previously Saint Werburgh’s Benedictine Abbey, was built in the 10th century on the site of a church founded in part by the infamous Lady Godiva.  The grating shown below was probably installed during a major rebuilding that occurred in the 1900s.

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Trench Grating seen at the Chester Cathedral in England

Trench Drain Systems adds the “Cathedral” grate to their decorative grating product line, which also includes a standard slotted grate and an oblong perforated pattern known as “Raindrops.”  All three patterns are available in bronze and aluminum.

TDS-Mini-Channel-Grates-Cathedral

The bronze grates are available in a natural finish or a ground (polished) finish.

The aluminum grates, made from a corrosion resistant alloy, are available in 3 standard powder coatings as well as standard natural finish.   The standard powder coating colors are Sand, Granite and White.  Custom colors are available if your project requires that attention.

buy decorative grates, decorative mini channel, buy patio gratesEach grate lends itself well to drainage applications in elegant outdoor living spaces and swimming pool deck.  With two counter sunk holes allowing the grate to screw into the NDS Mini Channel, these grates are secure for even the most trafficked areas.

For involved drain designs, contact Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221 for help with your inquiry.  One of our trained sales professionals will be available to help you with your drainage questions.

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3 Reasons Why Trench Drains Fail

A trench drain can be an expensive item to install.  First you have to invest time and energy into trying to solve a drainage problem.  Then, there is the cost of the drain itself: channel, top grating and shipping costs.

Next, there is an expense associated with the installation.  Maybe you use a contractor.  Maybe you do it yourself and end up with a sore back or smashed thumb.  You have concrete and other supply costs, as well.  It all adds up.  If it’s a home project, there is some personal frustration associated with the whole affair.  So, in the end you want the drain to actually solve the problem.

Shortcuts and misunderstanding the breadth of the problem lead to a failed trench drain.  Usually, I am brought in to consult with the project owner after the failed drain is discovered.  I have seen enough of these to lump the failures into three categories.

Improper Installation

There is a misconception that you don’t need to use concrete when installing a channel drain.  Put this out of your mind.  In most cases, you NEED to encase your trench drain in an envelope of concrete.

The only situation where you don’t need to pour concrete is in a paver patio that will never see vehicle traffic.

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Cracked polymer concrete drain in paver driveway

The example to the left shows a polymer concrete drain installed in a paver driveway.  Polymer concrete has a high compressive strength but is brittle and easily breaks when dropped or put into a dynamic force situation.

The abutting paving stones could have settled a bit in this drive.  The top edge of the trench drain became exposed to the dynamic forces of the car wheel, which broke the channel walls at the base of the drain.  The contraction and expansion of the stones freezing and thawing may also have played a role in the disintegration of the drain.

Originally, a modular trench drain was sold as a “form” which was used to when forming a drain out of concrete.  The drain body wasn’t the strength of the system, it was the shape.  When a drain is encased in concrete, the concrete takes the shape of the drain and becomes the strength of the drain.  Often, suppliers will specify a thickness of concrete needed to achieve a specific drain load classification.  Four inches are used in small automobile traffic.  Eight inches for heavier loads.

A drain can’t merely be sitting adjacent to the concrete.
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Without proper concrete reinforcement, trench drains will crack

The concrete must encase the body of the channel intimately.  In the example above, the client poured the concrete allowing a gap for the trench drain to be grouted in after the fact.  Because there was no support below or from the sides of the channel, the plastic channel body and grates were easily crushed under the weight of an automobile.  If the entire drain was supported by concrete, the weight load of the car would have been transferred to the concrete and the drain would still be intact.

“Can I use asphalt to install my drain?”

Generally, I would say “No”.  I have seen situations where the majority of the drain was encased in concrete, but the top surface adjoining the drain was tamped with asphalt.  That is doable if the contractor takes care not to crush the drain during asphalt compaction, but that is not a risk I’d like to promote.

Encasing the entire drain in concrete is preferred – and easier for the installer.  The asphalt can be compacted next to the concrete.  If there is an aversion to the contrast between the light grey concrete and the black asphalt, one could always seal coat the concrete to make it blend in.  If not, you may end up with a drain that looks like the photo below.

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Plastic trench drain installed with packed asphalt

Improper Drain Selection

You can install a product beautifully, but if you install the wrong drain you are not going to have a good time.  Such is the case when you put a plastic drain in an area that sees fork truck traffic (below).

For applications where a drain is going to see repeated automobile, delivery truck or fork truck traffic, a heavier duty drain is required.

I recommend drain bodies made from HDPE or polymer concrete with grating recesses that are supported by embedment concrete (i.e. the grate is wider than the channel opening).  Channel bodies capped with a metal frame and heavy duty grating are more preferable.

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Lightweight Spee-D Channel failed to support forklift traffic

Some drains are meant to be used in light duty, residential applications only.  Those little plastic drains you buy at the big box stores (Lowes, Home Depot, and Menard’s) are meant for use in a patio or maybe a driveway with little automobile traffic.  Often, the channels are made from extruded cellular PVC and the structural support on which the grating rests is made entirely of plastic.  The light duty construction of these channels will have a tendency to break under heavy loads or due to the freeze-thaw episodes seen in the winters up north.

Another improper drain selection situation is when you install a drain that will see a larger amount of water than it can handle.

The drain can be installed perfectly, but if the drain is overrun with a deluge of water, it is not serving its purpose.

A Pipe Size Calculation is nice to do prior to selecting your drain just to double check that you have a drain that can handle the water flow anticipated.

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Improper Grating Selection

An incorrect grating selection can also lead to trench drain problems.  The most common problems arise when the grating either has:

  1. Insufficient load rating or
  2. Insufficient chemical resistance
Load rating problems are common.
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Class A winery grate after forklift traffic

The cheaper grates generally have a lower load class.  Class A load gratings, for pedestrian applications, are sometimes used where automobile traffic is frequent thus leading to grating failure.  I’ve seen contractors or engineers choose a lower class grating because it met the budget of the project.  Later, of course, the owner of the project would have to replace the grates anyway.

This is the case for the example to the left.  A winery had stainless steel slotted grates installed that had Class A loading.  The application actually needed a grating with a much higher load rating.  As stainless steel is expensive enough, the project settled on the cheaper stainless grates only to come back later looking to replace the grates with the appropriate stainless steel product.  Money could have been saved by making this decision during the initial installation.

Insufficient chemical resistance is also a common example of an improper grating selection.

We don’t always think about the quality of the water or environment that the drain is going into.  Sometimes it just slips our mind.  Additionally, we may want to ignore the chance that the drain is in an aggressive environment because that will force us to consider more expensive, chemical resistant grating options.

Consider those folks that live near the sea coasts of Florida, California or Washington.  The salt water atmosphere plays havoc on cast iron and galvanized steel.  Eventually, trench covers corrode and need replacing.  For coastal environments, it is wise to consider a stainless steel, HDPE or fiberglass grate when possible.

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Likewise, in dog kennel applications, galvanized steel grating eventually corrodes from the dog urine and harsh cleaning chemicals used.  This leads to a premature replacement of the grates.  For non-profit organizations, who are always looking to cut costs, it is tempting to use a low cost galvanized steel grate for the kennel application.  It would be better in the long run to use a stainless steel or perforated HDPE grating so to avoid expenses later.

The photo below shows how a galvanized steel grate can corrode and deteriorate in a kennel application.

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Much of these problems can be summed up to poor workmanship.  Here are a couple take-aways:

  1. Make sure the contractor installing your drain knows what he is doing. Is this his first trench drain installation or has he had a number of successful products?
  2. Don’t leave it to the contractor to find you a drain. He might just go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and come back with a plastic drain that is incorrect for the application or aesthetically displeasing.
Contact the drain experts of Trench Drain Systems to get help with your drain selection. Send us an email or call now at 610-638-1221.

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Mini Channel Grating Expose’

Mini Channel is a popular 3 inch wide profile channel drain manufactured by NDS.  It is produced in Fresno, CA and stored in one of the four company warehouses and multiple distributors across America.  It is arguably the most versatile channel drain in its class on the market today.  Here’s why:

  1. nds mini channel, mini channel, plastic channel drain, plastic pvc drain,
    Mini Channel Extrusion Process

    The extruded, PVC cell-core construction of Mini Channel makes it inexpensive while also sturdy enough for popular residential applications, including pool decks and patios.

  2. The 3″ wide and 3″ depth dimension makes it large enough to handle most patio run-off scenarios while still being small enough to be inconspicuous.
  3. The straight wall construction of Mini Channel makes it compatible for most paver projects, while also being great in poured concrete decks.
  4. The grating selection of Mini Channel is one of the largest in the industry.  At last count, this mighty channel boasts of over 30 different grating options (All available at Trench Drain Systems)

Currently, there are four companies that produce grating products for the Mini Channel.  The color, material and design options are widespread making this system virtually perfect for any home decking or patio project.  Check out the selection below.

NDS

plastic drain grates, 2.75 grates, 3in plastic grates, nds channel grates,Of course, the manufacturer of Mini Channel will have some grates to use with their system.  They originally began with a six color plastic slotted grate offering and two brass grates (polished and brushed).  After competition in the marketplace proved that decorative grating was a viable option, NDS developed two decorative patterns of their own: “Wave” and “Botanical.” They began offering these two patterns in four colors (plastic) and in cast iron.  In all, NDS has 18 different grate selections for the Mini Channel.

Trench Drain Systems

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“Raindrop” (top) and “Slotted”

The most recent contributor to the Mini Channel grating selection is Trench Drain Systems.  Their contribution has been centered on providing simple, time tested, patterns in bronze and powder coated aluminum.  Currently, the patterns they offer are slotted and raindrop.  The bronze selections are sturdier than the NDS brass grates, having 50% more mass and capable of higher loads.  Bronze grates are available with a natural and brushed finish.

The bronze grate selections are sturdier than those offered by NDS for two reasons.  First, bronze is structurally a stronger material than brass.  And second, the grating offered by TDS have 50% more mass.  In comparison to the NDS product, they are heavier, sturdier and capable of higher loads.

nds mini channel grates, aluminum mini channel grates, 3in aluminum gratesLikewise, TDS makes the aluminum grates available in the same two patterns but with the added feature of being powder coated.  The color choices are Caramel Beige, Textured White and Granite Grey.  The coated aluminum grates are popular around custom pools.  The aluminum grate won’t rust, as will the cast iron grates.  Also, the aluminum isn’t susceptible to deterioration in UV light and won’t break when the foot of a chair is placed on it.  Forget about needing to replace your plastic pool grates every third season.  For large projects, custom powder coatings are available for an added cost.

Iron Age Designs

Iron Age Designs popularized the idea of making decorative grates for the standard, off-the-shelf drains like Mini Channel.  In fact, their “Minione” cast iron grate was the first of 5 decorative grate patterns made for the Mini Channel system.  They also offer their decorative products with a baked on oil finish.  Iron Age’s success in capturing a portion of NDS’s trench drain grate market led to the development of the previously mentioned NDS deco grating products.

IA-3inch-mini-grate-collage

Jonite USA

Jonite grates, stone mini channel grates, 3inch stone grates,
Baby Pebble grate by Jonite USA; Mini Channel by NDS

Though not a newcomer to the drainage market, Jonite USA is new to the Mini Channel band wagon.  They manufacture a unique material, called Jonite, which is made from the re-constitution of ground granites and other natural stones.  The product is reinforced during the forming process to meet the engineered property requirements of the application.  Their Baby Pebble (shown here) and Interlace patterns are available in Desert Beige and Charcoal Black.  The grates are made to ride on top of the Mini Channel and are meant to be used in paver applications.  The thickness of the grate extends far beyond the top edge of the Mini channel.  The paving stone is installed just flush with the top of the channel/grate combination.

As this is a new company to the US Market, they haven’t quite gotten their distributorship established.  Nothing is stocked in the United States as of print.  Lead time on an order is about 4 months, as it will be coming to you on a boat from Singapore.

If you want more information on the NDS Mini Channel and how it can be designed into your next pool or hardscape project, call Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221.  You can also send an email request to sales@TrenchDrainSystems.com

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NDS Revamps 5 inch Pro Series

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In 2012, NDS rolled out an improved channel for the 5 inch Pro Series. The 5 inch Pro Series is the workhorse of the Pro Series line, which ranges from 3” – 12” wide. The 5 inch Pro Series is sold in hardware stores around the country, though only in kit form. If you want to buy special grates or additional components, you’ll need to find an online store.

Rebar Connection

The first striking difference between the new and old design is the rebar attachment feature. (See below.) In the original rebar attachment design, a hole in the channel’s supporting foot allowed the installer to thread a piece of construction wire to connect rebar. The new rebar attachment design features a plastic clip that affixes to a No. 4 rebar (1/2”) without a tie wire.

PVC channel drains, plastic drain system, plastic channel system 5 inch pro series
New channel design (left) vs. Old design (right)

Enhance Ribbing

The new 5 inch Pro Series model also sports a new rib design. The ribbing was originally designed into the system to define the location where the channel could be cut during final channel length adjustment. Compared above, one can see how one of the ribs in each pair has been extended. The extended rib has three purposes.

  1. It acts as a guide to assist in manual trimming of the channel,
  2. It gives more rigidity to the channel body, and
  3. It is part of a new, snap-fit tongue-and-groove channel connection design.

5 inch Pro Series channel drain, 5 in plastic drain,

There is a fourth purpose of the rib re-design, shown above. Three of the extended ribs have pedestal extensions, which are great for leveling the channel during installation on a tamped gravel surface. In the previous 5 inch Pro-Series design, the bottom outlet prevented the channel from setting level on a flat surface. The new design eliminates this issue to improve the overall installation experience.

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Improved Channel Connection

Probably the best outcome of the 5 inch Pro Series redesign is the new channel connection snap fit. Above, one can see both designs are still a tongue and groove fitting. The big difference is in the small “snap housing” at the top of the new design (left channel). Upon completion of the tongue and groove connection, a tab on the male end of the channel makes a “snap fit” with this housing and secures the assembly.

With the previous design, PVC glue was used to secure the channel connection. Though, PVC glue would make the joint between the two channels water tight, it’ application was sometimes an afterthought and made for a more complicated installation.

plastic channel drain, 5 inch channel drain, 5 inch pro series drain

 Different Plastic Composition

You may have noticed a slight color difference between the two channels in comparisons above. That’s because NDS altered the plastic composition of the channels. The early version was made of a Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) composition while the new channel is made from Poly Ester (PE). The grates used in the system have not changed. They are still as reliable as they were in the past.

There are property differences between the two plastics. However, these differences may be more significant to the manufacturer than the customer. Two helpful observations I’ve made between the two plastics:

  1. You can’t use PVC Glue to connect your new 5 inch Pro Series channels. It doesn’t work. You’ll have to find another product other than “good ol’” PVC glue. I initially learned of the new channel design from an irate customer complaining that he couldn’t glue these new channels together. At that point, NDS still had an old installation data sheet circulating. Oops!!
  2. If you freeze and drop PVC components, they will crack. I learned this after receiving a January shipment of NDS PVC catch basins. The product arrived in the box shattered due to poor handling by the trucking company. If it was July, they probably wouldn’t have been broken.

plastic channel with bottom outlet, bottom outlets for plastic channel, 5 inch pro series, pro series outlet

Channel Weight

The final difference between the two 5 inch Pro Series designs is the channel weight. The new channel weighs 15 percent less than the previous channel. This may be due to the actual density of the plastic itself. Or, it could be related to some reduced channel dimensions. My gut feeling is that the weight change is an inherent property of the plastic rather than reducing the amount of plastic in the design. In fact, with the added features of the new design, it seems that NDS has “beefed up” on the volume of this channel. Again, this is my gut feeling and not based on any technical evidence.

NDS’s design change to the 5 inch Pro-Series hasn’t changed the width or length, but new design features make installation easier. Some installation problems may crop up if one is trying to make a construction blending the two designs.

I’ll miss the old design because we spent so many years together. However, I look forward to working with this new channel. Good job NDS, Inc.!!!

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Patio and Driveway Drainage Solutions Part II – New Catch Basin Drain Grate Options

We left off our previous blog after after introducing standard grating options such as the plastic slotted grate and the painted black iron grate.  The neat thing, though, is that multiple grates fit the 12″ x 12″ size profile adapters and catch basins.

Three new grating options recently became available to the market, which open up the design possibilities for every budget. Now there are designer grates available in plastic, cast iron and reinforced stone.

Designer Plastic Grates by NDS

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Earlier this year, NDS came out with two new grating designs that are expected to replace the standard plastic slotted catch basin grate. Their Wave (left) and Botanical patterns (right) come in four colors and fit the 12” x 12” catch basins and low profile adapter for both NDS and ADS products. They are interchangeable. The price of these designer grates are a few dollars more than the standard slotted plastic grates. This allows for the affordable replacement of existing basin grates.

Decorative Cast Iron Grates by Iron Age Designs

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Iron Age Designs has been around for a few years in the designer cast iron grate market. Their 12” x 12” catch basin grating options, designed to fit the NDS 1200 basin series, are top notch.  Coincidently (or by default), they also fit the ADS and Old Castle 12” catch basin product lines. These grates are strong enough to use in a driveway drainage application. They will easily support the weight of a delivery truck or car. Expect to pay over $100 dollars for one of these grates. Also, expect years of enjoyment from one of these grates being an heirloom in your outdoor living space.

Color Coordinated Stone Grating by Jonite

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Jonite has been around for years but is only now getting a foothold in North America. Headquartered in Singapore, they supply decorative grating and custom furniture made from a reinforced stone composite. The product they manufacture is resort quality. This is a drain option to be considered for a paver, tile or stone deck around your pool or in your outdoor living space. For custom jobs, Jonite is able to make personalized designs and match existing stone colors and textures.

The product selection in the United States is limited but growing. Six color options are available which match a common assortment of pavers and tile flooring. The photo below shows three patterns; Slotted, Baby Pebbles and Chiseled Rain. More options are to be available soon.

Any of the products you’ve seen today are available from Trench Drain Systems. Patio and driveway drainage kits are available online at www.DrainageKits.com.  If you have any questions, please contact a Trench Drain Systems expert at 610-638-1221 or via email.

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Patio and Driveway Drainage Solutions – Low Profile Drain (Part 1)

Just about any place in need of a drainage point can use catch basins (or one of their many variations) to evacuate water. Homeowners can use catch basins for driveway drainage, pools, patio point drains and landscape area drains. And, the installation techniques employed will be as diverse as the application.

buy plastic grates online, buy 5" plastic grates, buy nds drains online, 5 inch pro series buy nowAn interesting variation of a catch basin is the low profile adapter. This is truncated, or shallow housing that is designed to accept a standard 12” x 12” catch basin grate and allows for direct connection to a vertical drainage pipe. These drains are similar in character to single point floor drains used inside the home, but without the flanges and waterproofing features. They have no reservoir to collect debris from the run-off water. They simply fit on top of the vertical 3”, 4” or 6” PVC drain pipe that is part of the drainage system (shown below without grating).

NDS Low Profile Adapter on Pipe, nds, low profile drain, shallow catch basin

There are at least three companies that manufacture a 12” x 12” low profile adapter: ADS (American Drainage Systems), NDS (National Diversified Sales) and Old Castle (Formerly Carson Industries). All three companies have slightly differing product designs while maintaining the ability to accept a 12” x 12” x 1.25” thick grating. Two of these are compared below. At first glance, the ADS and NDS low profile adapters seem the same. And, from a strictly drainage functionality aspect, they are.

Low Profile Adapter Comparison, nds low profile, ads low profile adapter, ads catch basin, plastic drainage system

Both products have a similar dimensioned housing to carry the grate. The grates used in each drain are actually interchangeable. Each product requires a twist-in adapter (3 – 4” and 6”) to interface with the drainage pipe. Both are black colored. Even the company acronyms are close. ADS? NDS? What’s the difference?

There are a few subtle differences between the two low profile adapters that become apparent when you hold them. The ADS product is made from Polyethylene (PE) whereas NDS makes their product from Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Parts made from polyethylene are a little more flexible and durable than PVC parts. PVC is easier to crack or break, especially in cold temperatures. But this characteristic may not have any bearing on longevity or performance, especially when the drain is installed in concrete.

The flip-side of that material analogy is that PVC, being a slightly stiffer material, gives the impression that the NDS product is a well designed, cleaner fitting drain body. Of course, the ADS drain body has the same design quality as the NDS product. However, the flexibility and feel of polyethylene may give an impression of it being an inferior product. This is certainly not the case, however.

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The pipe adapter is an important part of the low profile adapter. It is the link between the grate housing and the drain pipe. As we all know, there are many drain pipes that can be used for an outdoors application, depending on the amount of water anticipated. Generally, 3” and 4” diameter pipes will handle the flow of water experienced in a residential setting. The two adapters, shown above, are designed to attach to both pipe sizes, both PVC and corrugated PE. Both adapters work well with their respective drain housing. For higher volume flow applications, pipe adapters for 6” diameter pipes are available from both manufacturers.

When installed in a patio or driveway, the low profile drain will be hidden from sight and the only thing visible is the top grating. There are a number of products available made to fit both of these housings. Each manufacturer has their own set of standard plastic and cast iron slotted grates, which are affordable, functional and diverse. We will discuss more decorative grating options in our follow-up blog.

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Plastic Trench Drain Comparison – Zurn Z886 vs. NDS Dura Slope

Part 1.  Channel Body Comparison

There are many plastic trench drain manufacturers in the marketplace.  By far, the top two manufacturers are Zurn Industries and National Diversified Sales (NDS). Zurn is a world class plumbing supply manufacturer headquartered in Erie, PA.  One of the four business grouping Zurn has is Drainage Products.  The Perma-Trench products represent the plastic trench drain component of their drainage products offering.  NDS is a manufacturer of plastic components used in storm water management, irrigation, water flow control and landscape water and root management.  They are headquartered in Woodland Hills, CA.

These two very different companies find an overlapping marketplace with their pre-sloped, high density polyethylene product lines.  For NDS, their Dura Slope product line was an outgrowth of their landscape drainage product line development.  This product was meant to be a high performing drainage product used in larger landscape and residential projects.

The Zurn Perma-Trench products (all high density polyethylene) were developed as an economical alternative to polymer concrete trench drain for industrial drainage applications.  The work horse of the Zurn trench drain product line is their 4” wide channel call Z886.  Both Dura Slope and Z886 have similarities in channel composition and drainage capabilities.  However, each has strengths which should be considered when choosing a product for a particular application.

Dimensional Comparison – Above is a photo comparing the Zurn Z886 and Dura Slope channel bodies as received from our supplier.   At first glance, the main difference you see when comparing two is the length.  The Zurn product is 2 meters (80”) in length while Dura Slope is 4 feet (48”).  Next, you will notice that the Dura Slope has a black plastic cover attached with locking devices.  The Zurn channel has 4 metal “spreading bars” which are used to keep the channel walls from flexing during installation.  Dura Slope’s black cover helps to prevent channel compression during concrete placement, but also works to keep channel free from debris during drain installation.   As a side benefit, the locking devices come free with the Dura Slope channel.

The channel width, slope and colour are relatively similar between these two products.  And likewise, both products can achieve continual slopes of 100 feet (96 in the case of Dura Slope) and have the deepest channel section being 12”.   Look at the close up photo comparing the two below.

Flow Data Comparison – The flow data reported on the Zurn product is 20-25% higher than that reported on similar invert depth Dura Slope channels.  This didn’t seem reasonable since both channels are so similar.  To investigate the disparity, I compared Z886 and Dura Slope channels of similar depth. (See Photo Above)

Flow rate is a function of the cross-sectional area of the channel, the channel slope and the channel material.  As the material in each is HDPE, we can ignore this as a factor of the flow difference seen.  The cross sectional area of each channel seemed to be similar.  Z886 is a full 4” wide with a rounded section at the bottom.  Dura Slope has a top width of 4.5”, but, then goes into a taper to the rounded bottom which has a 4” diameter.  Maybe, Zurn has slightly more area…maybe.  Could the extra 0.05% slope of the Z886 explain the 20% greater flow data?  I don’t think so.

Upon closer analysis, I learned that Zurn’s technical data defines the invert depth of a channel to be the distance between the top of the grate and the lowest point in the channel.  Dura Slope, on the other hand, measures the invert depth as the distance from the bottom of the grate to the lowest channel point. The resulting 0.75” difference has an effect on the overall cross-sectional area calculation, and in turn, affects the flow calculation.  In essence, Zurn measures flow of the channel without a grate while Dura Slope recognizes that you will have a grate in the trench while it is in full flow.  When each company’s data is compared after adjusting for this depth difference, Zurn shows only an 8% higher flow rate than Dura Slope.

Channel Feature Comparisons – Other channel features worth noting include built in rebar clips and anchors, built-in bottom outlets, channel connections and end outlets.  Both Zurn and Dura Slope products have rebar clips built into the channel body.  (See above.)  Rebar clips are used to help suspend the channel within an excavated trench during installation.  Rebar sections are generally hammered into the ground.  The purpose of the rebar clip is to attach the channel to the embedded rebar.  The rebar clip designs for the Z886 and Dura Slope channels are different but equally functional.   Z886 has a side clipping design while Dura Slope has a clip opening that is perpendicular to the channel.  Both clips have tie wire holes.  The Z886 wire tie hole is in the outer most side of the clip.

Rebar clips are additionally helpful to stabilize and secure the channel after it has been set in concrete.  One complaint I’ve heard about plastic trench drain channels (as opposed to polymer concrete) is that,  over time, there is a tendency for the channels to separate from the hardened concrete, leaving a gap that can fill with debris and pinching the channel opening. In comparison to polymer concrete channels, this is probably a true statement, though maybe a little misleading.  To help secure the channel firmly into the concrete and minimize this separation, Zurn has designed additional anchor posts at each rib point of the channel.  Dura Slope doesn’t have additional anchors at their rib points.  However, the HDPE used to make the Dura Slope product seems to be more rigid, maybe because of added fillers used in the plastic.

A feature of every Dura Slope channel is a built-in bottom outlet. This gives the contractor flexibility in deciding the drainage points of a long run or the convenience of not having to order a separate adapter if a bottom outlet is required.  To use the bottom outlet, a 4” diameter hole bit is used to drill out an opening in the channel within the bottom outlet.  Thereafter, a 4” schedule 40 pipe hub or Sch. 40 hub insert (DS-126) can be attached.

plastic bottom outlet drainage

Zurn’s Z886 bottom outlet design also gives you a degree of flexibility.  The Z886 doesn’t have a built-in bottom outlet with each channel.  However, separate bottom outlets are available in 2”, 3”, 4” and 6” diameters.  These can be installed anywhere along the channel bottom which allow for more complex drainage configurations.

channel drain connection

Both Z886 and Dura Slope have tongue and groove joint connections.  They allow for quick and easy installation.  Dura Slope has a trademarked DuraLoc TM design which snaps to lock the channels together once the tongue has been properly inserted into the groove.  I am impressed to see how quickly these go together and how straight the channels remain after connection.

The Zurn tongue and groove joint connection slides together easy enough.  But, it just isn’t as user-friendly as the Dura Slope product.  To secure the joints into place, you are required to place a screw at each side of the joint so you can mechanically connect the channels.

One of the selling points for the Z886 channel in Zurn literature is the fast installation times due to the tongue and groove connection and the 80” channel lengths.  The longer channel lengths are thought to reduce the hassle of connecting channel (which is what takes time in setting drain).  When compared to traditional polymer concrete systems, this may be true.

However, you cannot make the same inference when comparing Dura Slope and Z886.  I feel the quick locking channel design feature of Dura Slope overshadows any installation advantage that the Z886 product may have despite the longer channel size.  Dura Slope is just easier and quicker to assemble.

While I’m on the soap box commenting about channel length, I want to point out that long channel lengths are best when you have larger, longer channel runs.  For smaller projects, you may not have need for a full 80” section.  For common trench drain applications, such as a 12 ft or 16 ft wide driveway drain, a channel with a 4 foot length would be optimal.  If an 80” channel was to be used on this project, a portion of the channel would have to be cut and discarded.  As the project becomes larger in scope, a certain amount of flexibility is inherited.  Lengths can be changed easier in the field to accommodate the channel increment.  And with larger projects, if a channel is to be cut and discarded, it is a much smaller percent of the project cost than it would be in a small residential project.  This is not to infer that smaller length channels shouldn’t be used in larger drainage projects.  Smaller channels can be quicker to install, and they are easier to store.

One feature that aids Z886 in large drainage projects is its extender panels.  These are wall panels that can be added to a channel to allow the drain to be installed at greater depths or with longer continual sloping runs.  Dura Slope doesn’t offer this feature.

A final feature to compare between these two systems are end caps or end outlets. Both products have caps and outlets made from HDPE, which makes it easy to trim and drill out in the field using standard power tools. Both have a design that allows the outlet to attach by inserting into a channel groove and the end cap (shallow end) to be attached with screws. Zurn’s outlets are supplied with screws, while Dura Slope requires you to purchase these separately. There will be an excess portion of the cap which needs to be removed, with both systems, to make the cap level with grade. Dura Slope end cap design shows a depth scale that corresponds with the channel you are using as the last channel to make trimming easier.  Zurn’s end cap design has a saddle that rests within the channel to make screw mounting easier during installation.

To recap, below is a quick comparison of the Z886 and Dura Slope with respect to channel features and geometry.

Parting Comments – If we are to look solely at the merits of each channel, I would say that Dura Slope has more to offer both home owners and contractors.  The Dura Slope was designed to be easy to handle, quicker to install, with minimal assembly required.  I personally like the shorter channel lengths because they fit on my shelves and are much easier to ship to my customers.   I feel the plastic used to make the Dura Slope is stiffer than that used in Z886, which leads to straighter channel installations and less channel-concrete separation.

Having said that, I acknowledge that the Z886 channel has advantages over Dura Slope in applications where long, continuous slopes are required.  By using extender panels, runs as long as 300 feet of continual sloping drain are achievable.  In addition, Z886 has a wider variety of outlet diameter options which can help in more complex drainage projects.  This is one of the reasons why you will see Zurn Z886 specified on big jobs more often than you will see Dura Slope.

The channel component of any trench drain is important when considering the engineering properties and installation.  But this is just half of trench drain.  The portion of the drain that people see after installation is the grate.  Increasingly, the channel grating is becoming the focal point of the trench drain selection process.  Aesthetics, ADA compliance, load capability and corrosion resistance are all properties to consider when selecting a trench drain grate.  Part 2 of this report will continue the discussion on Zurn’s Z886 and NDS Dura Slope by focusing on trench drain grate options available from each.

Trench Drain Systems is a company which specializes in providing quick solutions to drainage problems.  For more information about the trench drain products discussed in this article, visit the website or call 610-638-1221 for immediate assistance.

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Product Comparison – Zurn Z880 vs. NDS Mini Channel

The Z880 Perma Trench is one of Zurn’s most popular residential trench drain product lines.  Its name may sound intimidating, but there’s nothing to fear from this plastic drain.  It was designed for pools, patios and landscape drainage much like its competitor, the NDS Mini Channel.  Both the NDS Mini Channel and the Z880 are 3” wide at the top, and both systems have similar features that give each other a run for the money.

Mini Channel, Z880, plastic trench drains, residential drain
NDS Mini Channel drain compared alongside Zurn Z880 residential trench drain

Channel Body Differences

The difference between the two systems really starts with the channel bodies.  Take a look at the photo above.

The Mini Channel (shown left) has a gray, honeycombed channel design meant to distribute load stress and prevent the system from collapsing.  This design extends to the grate supports, which hang out from the channel walls in an upside down flying buttress.

You can see that the Zurn Z880 (shown right) has a thicker, solid channel body. It is composed of high density polyethylene (HDPE), the same material as the Zurn Z886 or NDS Dura Slope commercial-grade trench drain systems.  The inherent durability of the channel body gives some “street cred” to this little patio drain.

The Z880 channel body also has “ribs” extending from the outer walls that give the channel extra surface area at vital contact points to the surrounding concrete.  The ribs help “grab” the concrete, anchoring the system in place and providing additional strength.  The channel will not separate from the concrete once installed.  The ribs also add flexibility to the design of the system because they serve as cutoff points in the drain that can still connect to other modular channels or outlets.  I’d estimate the cutoffs are every foot.

plastic trench drain, residential drain system, Zurn, patio drain
Zurn Z880 plastic drain features include ribs and support legs

The walls of the Mini Channel are made of smooth PVC.  The absence of ribbing is advantageous when installing in a paver patio but poses a problem in the long run if you want to install it in concrete.  Without ribbing to act as anchoring points, the drain body can begin to separate from the concrete years after installation.  In addition, water and dirt may begin to flow between the concrete-channel interface, causing the channel to pinch.  To prevent this pinching effect and the subsequent weakening of the channel wall, make certain that the Mini channel grates are always securely fastened down.

Grating Option Comparison

While Mini Channel grates come in a standard slotted pattern, the Z880 grates (shown below) have a more decorative pattern that gives them a classier appearance.  The thicker grate also holds more weight, providing more structural integrity than thinner Mini Channel grates, but ultimately has less open area for water to drain.

plastic drain grates, decorative grating, trench drain grates
Color options for the Z880 plastic trench drain system

The Z880 and Mini Channel systems each offer six color options which are the same with one exception.  The Z880 offers a sky blue grate while the Mini Channel offers a forest green grate.

If you choose the Z880 system, you’ll be surprised to see that the channel matches the grates’ color.  Unlike pool drains by other suppliers, the Zurn Z880 eliminates this “edge line of a different color” that borders the grating.  This gives the system an overall nicer appearance.

plastic trench drain, residential trench drain, Zurn trench drain, plastic grating
Z880 grating matches the trench channel body

Grates for the Z880 system clip into place.  Each grate has several “tongues” on its sides that snap into the channel grooves.  It’s easier than buying grate screws and lock downs, won’t create weak points in the channel structure and can be popped out of place easier for cleaning.

Iron Age Grating Options – Cast iron decorative grating is available for both drainage systems.  Created by Iron Age Designs, the grates are both beautiful and efficient.

The Mini Channel has four decorative patterns that fit the system, three of which are shown below:  Minnione, Carbochon and Interlaken.  Each grate is slightly different in terms of thickness and how it sits inside the channel.   Iron Age cast iron grates make NO accommodations for screws needed to lock down the grate.

decorative grates, iron grating, Iron Age Designs, residential drains
The Minnione, Carbochon and Interlaken decorative iron grates by Iron Age Designs

So far there is only one cast iron grate option offered by Iron Age for the Zurn Z880 pool drain.  What amazes me about the pattern is that it’s a Regular Joe.  No, really, it is.  I’ve never found out who was behind it, but somewhere along the lines the decorative option for the Z880 drain became a cast iron slotted grate.  Of course, it looks entirely more sophisticated than a standard slotted grate, but it’s something I’ve never stopped being amused about.

Zurn plastic drains, cast iron grates, decorative grating, residential drains
Zurn Z880 plastic grate compared to Regular Joe by Iron Age Designs

One thing that is not amusing about the Regular Joe grate for the Z880 is the placement of its “tongues.”  In the picture above, you can see the inconsistency between the plastic Zurn grate and the Iron Age Designs option.  The lockdown tongue on the cast iron grate is placed too high, which means it probably won’t secure into the channel properly.

I don’t want to sell the Z880 drain short, though.  Zurn does offer four other decorative options, including a bronze decorative grate, for homeowners who want to upgrade from plastic without buying the Iron Age grate.

Whereas, the Mini channel may wear and tear more quickly (especially in regions of freeze-thaw) because of the cellular channel design, the Z880’s solid body design and anchoring points makes it a more rugged product over the long haul.  The Mini Channel is a sleeker, less expensive channel drain system that works well when used with pavers. The Z880 is a sturdier system designed for concrete installation. These two systems are so similar, yet they are worlds apart.

For design assistance and pricing on any of these products, contact Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221 or send us an email.

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Forgotten Trench Drain Systems – ADP Channel Drains

Every so often an ADP (American Drainage Products) plastic grate is mistaken for NDS Spee-D Channel.   There is a good reason for that.  ADP was a company based out of Columbus, Ohio who carried a product line that overlapped with those offered by NDS (National Diversified Sales).  In 1997, NDS purchased ADP and incorporated their product line into the NDS offering.  The redundant products have been supported by NDS over the years but are being phased out.  That is the case for the ADP 2” and 4” channel drains.  Replacement components, such as plastic grates, and some channels are still sold by NDS, though they are difficult to locate.

ADP 2” Channel Grate – As first glance, the 2” ADP grate can be mistaken for an NDS channel grate because it is made in the same style as the NDS Mini Channel.  The thin, slotted plastic grates come in an assortment of colors (shown below).  The slots have a center rib running down the length of the grate, which makes it more structurally sound and gives it the “double slotted” look.

plastic slotted grates, plastic grating, plastic trench drain system

Distinguishing features between the two grates can be seen in the photos shown below.   While the Mini Channel grate (left) is 2.75” wide and 36” long, the ADP Channel grate (right) is 2” wide and only 24” in length.  Another subtle difference between the two can be seen in the screw hole locations.  The longer Mini channel grate only has four locations screw holes used to attach the grate to the channel while the 2” ADP grate has six screw holes.

Mini Channel, plastic grate, NDS, National Diversified Sales

Grates are not the only replacement component available for the 2” channel system.  End caps, channel couplers and channel supports can also be purchased for this system.  Channels are available in 4 foot lengths but are not being advertized because NDS is trying to phase out this product line.  If you like this product, you’d better hurry before it is gone forever.

ADP 4” Channel Grate – For the longest time, I incorrectly thought that the ADP 4” channel was a Spee-D Channel system.  The two products are so similar, it can fool you.  I was first introduced to the ADP 4” channel when I was replacing a trench drain in a customer’s driveway.  The 4” channel drain had been installed in the drive without the proper support by the previous contractor and failed under use.  When I removed the channel, I recall thinking that this must have been an older version of Spee-D channel because it had a few style differences yet still looked identical to the Spee-D Channel.

Spee-D Channel, NDS, ADP, plastic trench system

Many similarities exist between the Spee-D and ADP 4” systems.  Channels are extruded gray PVC plastic and supplied in 10 foot lengths.  The 4” wide grates are 24” long and are slotted with a similar slot design.  But upon closer evaluation, the Spee-D grate (left) is about 1/8” narrower than the ADP 4” grate.  In addition, the ADP grate (right) has slots with squared corners and screw holes that are directly opposite of each other.

plastic grates, colored plastic grates, NDS, plastic drainage systems

Many more differences are apparent when you compare the bottom side of these grates.  The Spee-D grate has a thicker, shorter rib section which defines the slot.  The ADP 4” grate has thin, deeply protruding rib sections.  These thin ribs, while making the grate more rigid, may also make the grate more brittle and easier to crack during aging.  Another difference between these two grates can be seen in the lips that fit into the channel:  the Spee-D grate has an elongated edging while the ADP product has a V-notch.

ADP, NDS, residential trench drain, trench drain systems

There are other grate options for the ADP 4” wide grate.  One really interesting option is the flanged grating (shown on the top in the photo above).   The purpose of the flange was to cover up or mask the plastic channel edging so there would not be a color mismatch in the trench drain after installation.  I suspect, however, that the edging tended to fatigue and break under use.  Maybe this is why NDS hasn’t used this idea in their existing product lines.

The ADP 4” grates of both styles are available in four colors: black, sand, green and gray.  The flanged 4” wide grate is also available in the color “brick”.  End caps, outlets, couplers and channel supports are also available for this system.  While NDS no longer advertises these channels, they are available (for now).

For pricing on any of the replacement grates shown in this article, contact Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221 or email your request for information.

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The Catch Basin Medley: Know Your Options

buy plastic grates online, buy 5" plastic grates, buy nds drains online, 5 inch pro series buy nowThe size, shape and material used to make a catch basin vary based on its intended application.  Round plastic catch basins are smaller and usually found in residential applications while larger, cement basins are used for heavier duty projects.  Many residential basins – even those on the larger side of the scale – feature optional decorative grating to make a potentially ugly drainage product look more appealing and less intrusive.

Over time, our sister blog has written several useful articles on the applications, sizes, installation methods and features of catch basins.  They are listed with excerpts below:

Catch Basins and Downspout Drainage

12 inch Iron Age Oblio Grate in Catch Basin, plastic catch basin, decorative catch basins, catch basins for homeowners, yard basins, how to install a yard basin

“A driveway that slopes into a garage can direct storm water toward the house.  Trench drain can be used to remedy this drainage problem by helping to redirect water away from the garage or living space.  However, a big contributor to the water problem can also be downspout water.  Driveways often have downspouts that drain roof water directly onto the pavement.  If the driveway doesn’t slope away from the house or allow for adequate drainage, water pooling or flooding can occur.  This article is about how simple catch basins can help to re-route downspout water…”

Large Residential Catch Basin Options

12 and 18 inch  Catch Basins, heavy duty catch basin, plastic catch basin, nds basins, large catch basins, large plastic basins,

“There are a number of options available for landscape contractors and homeowners who need a large catch basin.  By large, I am referring to a basin with a maximum size of 2’ x 2’.  A catch basin of this size (2’ x 2’) is at the boundary that separates commercial products from residential products.  Basins larger than 2’ x 2’ are generally made with the intention of being exposed to heavy traffic.  This article will be discussing some of the “large” catch basin products available for residential application…”

 Residential Downspout Catch Basin Installation

how to install catch basin, install downspout basin, install round basin, installing a trench drain

“I like to think of a catch basin as the “first line of defense” in cleaning up rain water and drainage pipes.  It is common for homeowners to put their downspout water into a pipe that then travels out to the street or a back yard location.  This often leads to clogged drainage pipes.  Over time, leaves, sticks and sand particulate from roofing shingles will build up in the pipe to gradually reduce drainage efficiency.  A catch basin helps to reduce this problem in two ways.  First, the grating that covers the basin filters out the coarse debris that finds its way through the downspout, thus “catching” the biggest contributing factor to clogged drain pipes…” 

To purchase any of the catch basins in these blogs, visit our online store or contact Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221.

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