Tag Archives: PVC Channel Drain

Four Considerations when Choosing your Swimming Pool Deck Drain

When faced with the prospect of selecting a channel drain for your swimming pool deck, your task can seem overwhelming.  Your contractor may only have a handful of the drain products available in his regional marketplace.  Additionally, if you are looking for custom or design-specific grating options, you may have to spend many nights researching on your own for a product that is just right.  A deck drain consultant can be a big time saver.

Pool deck drain selection is a balancing act between deck design, functionality, aesthetics, safety and cost.  It is important that the pool owner weigh the relative value that each of these features have to his project prior to designing the pool drain.

1. Budget Considerations

Is cost the overall driving factor in your selection?  Or, would you consider a drain with a little something extra to act as a conversation piece?  In the pool drain world, there is a broad spectrum of product costs.  The standard 1.5″ wide deck drains, which inevitably get clogged and break, are at the bottom of the spectrum.  From there, systems are available in all cost ranges, up to 10 times the cost of the low end product.  I should point out that quality systems are available at affordable prices for those watching the budget.  In general, pre-sloped systems are more expensive than neutral (non-sloped) systems.  However, pre-sloped systems have installation advantages that we will point out below.

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2.  Functionality Considerations

When I start discussing a pool deck drain with a client I ask them, “How is the pool deck to be constructed?”   Is the deck made of poured concrete, pavers, or tile?  All drains can be installed in a concrete deck construction, but not all drains work well with paver stone or tile.   Drainage systems that are designed with straight walls provide a linear surface that are great for laying paving stones against.  If the drain body has legs or support structure that are too close to the top edge of the channel, abutment of pavers will be compromised.

Examples of this are shown below.  Mini Channel and Polycast are both systems with straight walls and play well with paving stone.  Dura Slope and Pro-series #5 have rebar connection features that make it impossible for pavers to lay adjacent.  These latter products need to be encased in concrete prior to laying the paving stone.  In streetscape applications, this may be a reasonable design approach.

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6″ Dura Slope (left), 4″ Spee-D Channel (right)

3.  Drain Capacity

Wrapped in this conversation we should begin to consider how large of a drain we need for the deck application.  How large is the project and how much water is the drain required to handle?  Is this an Olympic sized pool or are we looking at a back yard sauna?  Long drains generally need to have a pre-sloped channel body if you plan to have only one drain outlet.  Neutral drain bodies, like NDS Mini Channel, can be used in long or complex drain designs as long as they are designed with bottom outlets every 15 – 20 feet.  This requires a parallel plumbing design running beneath the deck drain.  Though a little more complex in the construction, frequent bottom outlets gives you design flexibility that you can’t get with some wider, higher volume deck drain systems.

4.  Aesthetic and Safety Considerations

Once a deck drain is installed in your pool, the only evidence you have is the top grate – or grille, as some call it.  The selection of the grate will determine how much attention is brought to the drain and how safe the grate will be to pool goers.  My first “Rule of Thumb” is to make deck drain grates “barefoot friendly”.  The openings should be small enough to prevent a toe from getting caught in it.  This is not always possible if you have some really inquisitive children, however.

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Decorative grates bring an added touch of elegance to the pool deck, but need to be selected with safety in mind.   Cast iron metal grating not only can rust and become unsightly but have a high heat capacity that are hot to the touch during summer months.  Plastic, aluminum and bronze grates seem to be a more popular grating choice for deck drains in high foot traffic areas.

Grating color is another aesthetic parameter that comes into play.  Grates made from plastic, metal and stone are all available in a varieties of color.  White, tan and light grey are the three most popular deck drain colors.  Darker grey grates are used in bluestone and some paver pool deck designs.  Brass, bronze, stainless steel, cast iron and aluminum grates are popular in modern, designer pools.

Where to do research…..

After you have a drain design roughed out, visit www.DrainageKits.com and see some of the options available in kit form for pool applications.  Look through all the drain options, not just pool and patio drains.  You will be able to see options and pricing.  While doing this research, you will begin to narrow down exactly what it is you want.  If you still need to discuss the project, contact one of the drain professionals at Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221.  They can offer more direction to your search and help with the project estimate.

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Trench Drain Systems (TDS) is a leading supplier of trench and channel drain systems for residential and commercial applications.  In addition to having a full line of products used for walk-in shower and driveway drainage applications, they carry an attractive assortment of swimming pool deck drains that are chosen for both their safety features and great looks.

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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).

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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.

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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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NDS 8″ Pro Series Channel Drain

Recently, a number of people contacted us regarding the NDS 8 inch Pro Series Channel Drain. In a previous article, the 8” Pro Series was mentioned, though not in any great detail. In this article, I’ll elaborate on the channel and grating features this popular channel drain system.

The Pro Series by NDS

The Pro Series is a family of plastic channel drain products manufactured by National Diversified Sales (NDS) under licensing agreement from First Plast S.R.L. (Italy). There is a similar product line in Brazil made by Tigre Plastics that may be licensed under an agreement with First Plast, as well.

These injection molded channels are made with PVC containing ultra violet light inhibitors to help prevent fading and cracking. Pro Series channels are neutral (non-sloping), reinforced with ribbing every 4 inches and come in widths of 3”, 5” 8” and 12”. Options on grating, channel length, corner sections and outlets differ between the various width products.

However, each Pro Series channel features a unique, interlocking end joint connection. The reinforcement ribbing doubles as a cutting point (in the event that the channel needs to be shorted) which maintains the interlocking end joint connection. These features help make the Pro Series product line a smart, affordably drainage system for residential applications.

8” Pro Series Channel Details

The 8” Pro Series channel is used in applications where rain water accumulates rapidly or in applications requiring a larger runoff reservoir than is offered by the smaller Pro Series products. Technically speaking, the 8” Pro Series is named for its  width, which is actually 7.875 inches wide. The channel width, or throat, is about 6 inches wide. All channel lengths are ½ meter (20 inches) and are available in shallow or deep profiles (shown below).

The 8” shallow channel is about 4 ½ inches from the top of the grate to the bottom of the channel. Each shallow channel will hold 2 gallons under static conditions (no flow). The 8” deep profile channel, in comparison, is 7 ¼ inches in height and will hold 3.5 gallons under no-flow conditions. The amount of runoff water that these drains will effectively handle depends on the length of the drain, the diameter of the pipe used to drain the system, the pitch of the channel and the size of the openings in the grate used with the system. NDS has technical data that can be used to design a trench drain system capable of withstanding rainfalls typical to your geographic location.

8” Pro Series Outlet Options

Both the shallow and deep profile channels have end caps that can double as a 3” or 4” sewer and drain pipe connections. (See Below) These end caps have knock out sections of plastic that enable water to flow out or in. The shallow profile channel has an additional fitting that allows 3” or 4” S&D pipe to be attached to the drain from the side or the bottom of the channel. The deep profile channel doesn’t have this option. Again, there are knock out plastic sections that cover each of the pipe attachments on this special outlet.

8” Pro Series Grating Options

NDS sells 4 grating options for the 8″ Pro Series. Each grate is 7 ¾ inches wide, 19 5/8 inches long and ¾ inches deep. You will need to have one grate for every section of channel, as they are the same length. Each grate is connected to the channel by 4 stainless steel screws (sold separately).

Two of the most common 8” Pro Series grates are shown below. The top grate in this photo is a pedestrian rated perforated grate (Part No. 836) which is ADA compliant and can drain 15.33 GPM per linear foot of grating. The bottom grate is the standard light traffic slotted grate (Part No. 837) that has over twice the draining capability of the perforated grate. Both grates are made of high impact Polyolefin and are light gray in color. Not shown in this photo is a glass reinforced nylon slotted grate (Part No. 838), which is said to be able to withstand heavy truck traffic while also being ADA compliant.

Two cast iron grates are available for the 8” Pro Series. These are shown below. The black slotted grate (Part No. 888) is made by NDS, has 54 GPM drainage capability per linear foot of grating and is able to withstand truck traffic. The decorative grate beneath the slotted grate is called the 8” Carbochon and is made by Iron Age Designs. This grate was specifically designed to fit the 8” Pro Series channel, is made of ductile iron, is ADA compliant and has a higher open surface area per foot than any of the NDS grating options.

The Carbochon grate isn’t supplied with bolt-down holes or a protective coating to prevent rust. However, the aesthetics and pricing of this Ironage product make it an attractive option to the standard slotted cast iron grate. The Carbochon grates are available from Trench Drain Systems and can be purchased with an oil-baked finish or a custom epoxy coating.

Pro Series Installation Features

The Pro Series channels have three useful installation features that are common to all available sizes. These are illustrated in the photo below.

Pro Series channels have a unique interlocking channel design that is the key to their modular system success. This “tongue and groove” design allows each channel to securely lock to the adjoining piece. The “male” end of the channel easily slides into the “female” side of the adjoining channel when adding length to the drain. This connection joint can be made stronger by using PVC cement at the contacts prior to locking the channel together.

Another key feature that makes the Pro Series a unique modular system is the reinforcing ribs. Not only do the ribs give the channel walls rigidity, they are designed to be a cutting point for channel shortening while still keeping the “male” end of the channel that is necessary for attachment. No other trench drain system on the market has this feature.

Each channel also has “feet” that can be used as a rebar attachment site during installation. Generally, rebar is hammered into the ground at the foot locations. Wire is then wrapped securely around the rebar and channel foot. Final adjustment can be made to the channel to ensure the top of the drain is set to the desired elevation prior to pouring concrete. Instead of rebar, wood stakes can be used. In this case, wood screws can be used to firmly attach the channel foot to the installation stake.

Summary

In summary, the NDS 8″ Pro Series is a high volume channel drain for residential applications. The wider channels help insure that water is quickly removed from hardscapes. The unique design of the Pro Series facilitates ease and speed of installation. Grating options are comparatively meager, but growing due to the new selections becoming available by Iron Age Designs. For questions regarding this product line, contact the folks at Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221.

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Extruded Channel Drains (Part 2)

Last entry discussed differences and commonality between extruded channel drains manufactured by NDS and Stegmeier. I wanted to continue along this path and discuss two other very similar extruded products — NDS’s Spee-D Channel and Stegmeier’s Flowmaster. The Flowmaster is marketed as a professional grade channel drain for swimming pool decks. The Spee-D Channel is sold as a general purpose drain for residential applications that include driveways, paver patios and pool decks. Let’s first look at the two products side by side. NDS-Stegmeier-Comparison-pr1-300x199NDS Spee-D Channel is to the left while Stegmeier’s Flowmaster is to the right. Both channel drains have a similar cross section and have similar geometry. Both are about 5 inches wide and 3 inches deep. Both products are made from extruded PVC.

Two things stand out in the photo above. First, the wall thickness of the plastic is greater in the Stegmeier product. They also have a smaller amount of open air space than does the NDS product. This makes the Flowmaster channel much sturdier than the Spee-D channel. You can feel the difference when you hold the product. Normally, I don’t like to recommend extruded channel drains in regions that see frigid temperatures because of my concern for cracking during freezing and thawing. I think the Spee-D channel is susceptible to rapid deterioration in this environment. The Flowmaster channel drain stands a much better chance of holding up in colder regions because of the more rugged wall design.

The second apparent difference between these two products is the design of the grate rails. The Stegmeier product has a curved rail that requires a specially designed grate. The NDS product has a straight rail. This may not be much of a difference. But, I think the NDS design makes grate replacement and removal easier. Their design also lends itself to easy adaptation by other grate manufacturers.

Let’s look at some of the grating options of the two products. Below you see the Flowmaster with an aluminum slotted grate. It snaps into place wonderfully. You can buy this in three colors (silver, tan and white). This grate also comes in plastic (again three colors). However, if you wanted to use this product for anything other than a pool or deck application, you would have a difficult time with the grate. I feel the grate would compress or crush a little under car tire applications, for instance. Maybe I am trying to “over apply” this product.

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On the other hand, The NDS Spee-D channel has a variety of structural foam grating that is capable of small automotive traffic. If you want ornamental cast iron grating, it is available from Iron Age Designs. Maybe, the Spee-D channel doesn’t look as good as the Flowmaster in a pool deck application, but it has a broader residential appeal due to the grating options.

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Another difference between these two products is in the way they couple. The photo below shows NDS (left) and its well-engineered channel coupler versus Stegmeier’s simple design internal coupler. I don’t know which is best. I think the Stegmeier coupler is simple and gives a sturdier connection. I think the NDS system is neat looking, though. And my gut feeling is that the Stegmeier coupler will allow water to seep into the wall cells easier than the NDS coupler. It’s just my gut feeling folks!!

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I guess the last thing to talk about is pricing and availability. List prices of both channels are comparable. However, the popular home improvement stores usually carry the Spee-D channel at well below list pricing. Grating is where the pricing differences will be felt. The

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Flowmaster grates are generally more expensive than the “off the shelf” Spee-D channel grate. However, you will most likely have to special order any Spee-D channel grate if you don’t want gray plastic. Cast Iron grates for Spee-D channel can be ordered online in raw iron or with a Baked-on oil Finish. The Stegmeier channel products are sold in pool supply stores and by special order. Their distribution network is not as well developed as NDS. If you like the Flowmaster product line, and can’t find a dealer, you can purchase this product over the internet.

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Extruded Channel Drains (Part 1)

Last month, I wrote an article about a plastic channel drain product marketed by NDS under the “Pro Series” brand. This neutral channel product line is manufactured by injection molding. While injection molding is great for making intricate shapes, manufacturing costs associated with injection molding drive product costs up.

There are design and mold costs associated with all formed plastic products.  However, extrusion, as a plastic manufacturing method, is well suited for high volume, simple shape production.  Being a continuous method, the extrusion process is continuously producing products (more units per hour) and drives down unit of the finished part.

Designed in the cross-section shape of the final product, extrusion dies are less complicated and less expensive to make.  When hot plastic is passed through the die in the actual extrusion process, a continuous stream of product is made.  Plastic PVC pipe in manufactured by this process.

In the case of plastic channel drain, this “stream” of molded plastic comes out looking like a plastic roof gutter (see photo below).

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This article will address extruded plastic channel drains. In part 1, I will discuss common features in pool deck drains manufactured by NDS and Stegmeier. I also discuss the NDS Mini Channel product.

NDS Micro Series vs. Stegmeier Deck Drains

The NDS Micro and Stegmeier deck drains are narrow channel drains designed specifically for swimming pool decks. Generally speaking, these extruded PVC channels are 1.5” wide and 3.25“deep. The channels are used to form a perimeter around a swimming pool to create a drain for incidental pool water. All the products are designed to be installed in concrete.  However, channel anchoring techniques during installation differ between the two brands.

Below you can see the NDS Micro Channel (left) compared to Stegmeier’s standard deck drain. Both products are extruded “box” channels. Later, slots are cut into the top surface to form the drain holes. NDS seems to use a small mill to form this slot while Stegmeier appears to use a carbide saw blade. The NDS Micro is actually more narrow (1.25”) than the Stegmeier products (1.625”). The Stegmeier product also has a more rigid feel to it.

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NDS offers its Micro Channel pool deck drain in three different colors. That’s it. Stegmeier’s deck drains come in 4 colors and 4 styles. Two of the styles are like the above “box” channel with the integral drain grate. However, they have two other products that have an awesome “press fit” grate that make channel clean out very easy. Stegmeier’s Frontier Deck Drain has plastic “press fit” grates that come in 4 colors. Stegmeier’s Treadmaster Deck Drain has an aluminum grate for the more commercial swimming pool look. These grates come in tan, white and silver. I’m sorry I don’t have photos of these now. In the interim, check out their website www.stegmeier.com.

NDS Mini Channel – The next “size up” in extruded plastic channels is the NDS Mini Channel. This is a unique product that is both economical and sturdy enough to be used in light traffic areas. The 3” wide and 3” deep channel allows for larger water flow than deck drain while giving the home owner a greater selection of grating options. As with deck drains, the Mini channels are connected with couplings and are available with a broad selection of special junction sections.

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The highlight of the Mini Channel system is with the grating options. You can select from six colors of plastic slotted “light traffic” grates. These come in 3 foot lengths and can be screwed into place.  NDS also offers decorative plastic grates in two patterns and six color options.

If you want a more durable or ornamental product, you can have a slotted brass or cast iron grate. The brass grates are available in polished or brushed finishes and come in one foot lengths. The cast iron grate is available in four patterns (Minione, Interlaken, Carbochon, Locust).

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If you have any questions or comments on these products, please send us an email. You can also visit our website for more information on the NDS product lines.

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NDS Pro Series Channel Drains

NDS offers a line of channel drain systems called the “Pro Series”. These channels are injected, molded from polyvinyl chloride, and have a neutral slope (no slope). They come in a variety of widths (3”, 5”, 8” and 12”). According to NDS literature asterisk notes, this product is technology licensed from the Italian trench drain manufacturer First Corp.

This product line really has many options if you don’t want pre-sloped channels. From a manufacturing point of view, it makes sense.  NDS production facilities would need to stock a bunch of injection mold dies of varying depth in order to make pre-sloped channel systems  Injection mold dies are expensive!

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With the Pro Series, NDS instead opted to make four channel widths to account for different flow situations.  Three of the widest products have two depths (shallow and deep channels). So, in effect, there are seven different channel options in the Pro Series.

Request pricing on the NDS Pro Series drainage system!

The photo above shows three of the four width options (I didn’t show the 12” wide option). The 3” and 5” wide channels come in 40 inch lengths (1 meter).  The 8” and 12” wide channels come in 20 inch lengths (1/2 meter).

Pro Series Channels Mean a Flexible Layout

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A key feature of the Pro Series trench drain product line is the ability to cut the channels to any desired size. The channels come with a “double ridged” cut line every four inches (4”) along the length of the channel. This makes it possible to trim, for instance, 8 or 12 inches from the channel in order to custom fit the drain into a tight area.

Trim the channel using a simple hand saw. By making your cut in the slot formed by the double ridges, you can easily change the length of the drain while retaining an edge that allows all the standard hardware (end caps and other channels) to be attached . There is no patching of the channel in a custom length situation.

While you can cut a channel to a specific length, specialty channels are available for making 45 and 90 degree bends in the drain.  Side outlets are available in 5” and 8” wide channels.  Another notable feature is that every channel has a bottom knockout. This gives you flexibility when it comes time to place a bottom discharge. You can place a bottom outlet wherever you want.

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Pro Series Grates: Know Your Options

Grating options are not extensive with this brand and vary by channel size. For instance, the 3” wide Pro Series channel only has a gray plastic grate suitable for pedestrian or light vehicle traffic. This may be adequate for home owners that are looking for a budget driveway drain.

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The 5” wide Pro Series drain, however, has the most grating options. Plastic slotted grates (class B loading) are available in six (6) colors. Perforated plastic grating is available, but only in gray. A cast iron grate and a high impact resistant plastic slotted grate are also available in 5” width.

The 8” and 12” wide Pro Series products have fewer grating options. With the 8” wide channels, you have a choice of three plastic grates, one of which is perforated, and one slotted cast iron grate. The 12” wide channel only has a plastic slotted grate (light vehicle traffic) and a cast iron grate for heavy traffic. All grates, no matter the width, come in 20 inch lengths.

One thing I like about the Pro Series product line over other NDS brands (such as the Mini or Spee-D series) is that it offers more durability and life to your drain system because of the grate to channel width relationship. I feel it is important to have your grate wider than the channel of the trench. This is particularly important in plastic trench drain products. If the grate is wider than the channel, then the concrete that surrounds the trench will be giving added strength to the channel. Systems that don’t have this added support have to rely solely on the strength of the plastic channel. In this later case, if the ledge that supports the grate breaks, the load capabilities of the grate fail. More on this when I cover other NDS channel drains.

List prices of the NDS Pro Series cover a broad spectrum. The least expensive is, of course, the 3” wide system and prices go up as do the channel widths. Grates with higher load capabilities also come at a premium.

To request pricing, contact Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221 or by email. For more information, leave a comment below!

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Common Plastic Terminology for Trench Drains

It’s time to discuss some plastic terminology!

Disclaimer: I am not an organic chemist or a plastics engineer. I’m gathering this information from other sources and I may not be explaining it as accurately as I need to.

Polyolefin — is a polymer produced from a simple olefin, or alkene as a monomer. For example, polyethylene is a polyolefin produced by “polymerizing” the olefin “ethylene”. Another common polyolefin is polypropylene. I consider polyolefin a general term for a family of plastics. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/polyolefin)

Polyethylene — is a semi-crystalline plastic with excellent chemical resistance, good fatigue, and wear resistance. They can have a wide range of properties which are determined by the length and degree of branching of their polymer chain. In general, polyethylenes have good resistance to organic solvents, high impact strength, are light weight, resistant to staining, and have a low moisture absorption rate. They are easy to distinguish from other plastics because they float in water. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/polyethylene)

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) — HDPE is the most common polyethylene used in industry. It offers excellent impact resistance and high tensile strength. Technically speaking, it has a low degree of branching and thus a stronger intermolecular forces. HDPE is non-toxic and meets FDA and USDA certifications for food processing. It is commonly used for the manufacturing of milk jugs, margarine tubs, detergent containers and trash cans. It is also an excellent material for use in trench drain and storm sewer pipe.

Polypropylene is an economical material that offers a combination of outstanding physical, chemical, mechanical, thermal and electrical properties not found in any other thermoplastic. It has a lower impact strength that does HDPE, but it also has better tensile strength and superior heat resistance.

Structural Foam — is a structure imparted to an olefin during processing that gives the plastic addition strength and resilience. More on this later.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) — Is a widely used thermoplastic polymer. Over 50% of the PVC products manufactured are used in construction as a building material. PVC offers excellent corrosion and weather resistance and has a high strength-to-weight ratio. PVC is inexpensive, easy to clean, and a popular replacement for wood and concrete building materials. It is used in house sidings, drainage pipe, window profiles and plumbing fixtures (such as some trench drain). Despite appearing to be an ideal building material, concerns have been raised about the costs of PVC to the natural environment and human health. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/polyvinyl_chloride)

Fiberglass Reinforced Polyester — Polyester is a category of condensation polymers which contain the ester functional group in their main chain. This group also includes polycarbonates. Polyesters are popular for being used as a woven fabric. When fiberglass is added to polyester, the resultant material is more durable and resistant to impact.

UV Inhibitors — These are chemical additives that are added to plastic which help to retard the damaging effects of ultraviolet light to the plastic.

Injection Molding — This is a forming method by which intricate trench drain products (or other plastic shapes) can be shaped. In this process, a heated and liquid thermoplastic is injected into a mold that contains a cavity that has the shape which is desired. Once injected with plastic, the mold and part is cooled. The resulting plastic shape is removed from the mold and trimmed of flashing (excess plastic). This method is needed to form pre-sloped trench channels. Though mold costs are expensive, one mold is required for each size of pre-sloped channel.

Extrusion — Another method of making trench channel is extrusion. In this process, a heated batch of thermoplastic is continuously injected through a water-cooled die. The shape of the die will determine the cross-section of the extruded part. This method can be used to make simple, non-complex parts such as pipe, tubes and u-shaped channels. The most inexpensive channel drain products are made using this forming method.

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Plastic Trench Drain vs. Residential Trench Drain

Are most residential drainage projects solved by plastic trench drain?

It’s starting to look that way.

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As society’s attention to stormwater runoff issues grows, so does our need to learn about water control products such as trench drains.  Concrete and fiberglass trench drains dominated the commercial market for years. These polymer concrete or fiberglass based drainage systems proved too costly, which leaves plastic as the alternative material for household drainage products. For many homeowners, plastic trench drain offers the best value – if they can find a drainage system right for their needs.

Go to the local landscape supply or home improvement store and you’ll only see a small sample of plastic drainage products. Maybe you’ll even find actual trench drain on the shelves. But ask yourself, “Is this what I want?” Most likely, this is not what you originally envisioned. Maybe you expected a bigger variety. Maybe you are uncertain of all the products available on the market or how to find them.

Read: Top Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Plastic Trench Drain

PlasticTrenchDrain.com is here to shed some light on plastic trench drain systems and manufacturers plastic drainage products. Homeowners and contractors alike will see products and find possibilities to solve drainage problems using plastic systems.

I will occasionally give you website links that will help you on your quest for knowledge. I will show systems that meet your engineering requirements, budget and aesthetic needs. If you have immediate questions that need answering, feel free to leave a comment below or email me.

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Pro’s and Con’s of Plastic Trench Drain

When I started my career with trench drain, I didn’t know the critical questions that determine whether plastic trench drain is appropriate in a drainage project.

At the time, I handled a polymer concrete product line. Polymer concrete is a mixture of an inert material (such as silica sand) and a two part polyester resin binder. The sand-resin mixture is poured into a mold, where the bond sets and the shape dries. Further curing can then be done in large driers. The resultant product is heavy, hard, durable, and brittle.

My sales manager instructed me that polymer concrete trench drain products were “good” or “superior” and plastic products were “bad”. Of course, he had a vested interest in promoting his polymer concrete trench drain. It made me ponder the reasons that lead to the contractor’s decision to use one material versus another material.

Since then, I have seen enough applications and selling situations of trench drain to have legitimate opinion on what is “good” trench drain and what is “bad”. And, from what I’ve seen, it’s all good…depending on whether or not you have the proper application.

When looking for a trench drain product, determine what is needed and what can be sacrificed. Where is the project? Is the aesthetics or functionality more important? Are you or someone else installing the product? What equipment is available to use in the installation? What are the load requirements for the drain? What is the budget? All these are necessary questions to the drain selection. And, all may have an impact on whether you use a plastic based product. Selection considerations are discussed below.

Advantages of Plastic Trench Drain:

trench drain grates, trench grates, channel drain grates, channel drains, plastic trench drain, patio trench, patio drain, drain channelGreater Selection Options — Plastic trench drains come in many widths, lengths and styles. Products are available in 1” to 21” widths and can come in up to 10 foot lengths.  Narrower channels use lightweight grates with decorative options.  On the larger side, plastic trench drains can use heavy duty iron grates for situations with heavy vehicle traffic.

Plastic Trench Drain is Light Weight — Being lightweight gives plastic trench drains two benefits:

  • Easier handling during installation — One person can handle a 10 foot section of drain. Other products, such as polymer concrete and fiberglass, are heavy and come in shorter lengths.
  • Better shipping — Small orders of plastic trench drain can be shipped by UPS or Fedex. Similar orders of polymer concrete product would require a freight hauler and a fork truck to unload.

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Ease of Installation — The high degree of processing sophistication allows for superior trough designs that promote an easy installation. The designers thought through the contractor’s process and came up with plastic drainage systems that are both adjustable and quickly installed.

Lower Product Costs — Plastic trench drain is more affordable than polymer concrete drains at widths up to 8”. Plastic systems also offer a wider range of decorative grating options, corner angles and color choices.

Forgiving to Impact (at times) — If you drop a section of plastic trench drain on the floor, it won’t break like polymer concrete will.

Disadvantages of Plastic Trench Drain:

Freeze/Thaw problems — Plastic has a higher coefficient of thermal expansion than does polymer concrete. This can lead to problems in environments that see extreme cold and heat. The trench drain can separate from the concrete that holds it in place.

Extreme Cold Impact Problems — Some plastic will shatter if it sees an impact while frozen. Some plastic trench drain will do the same.

Low Industrial Strength — Some plastic products promote their ability to handle heavy load applications. And though the grate they provide may meet the load requirement, the channel itself may display low integrity.

Durability — In general, plastic trench drain doesn’t have the life as polymer concrete.

This list of advantages and disadvantages is not exhaustive. It’s just what I can think of today. Maybe you have some other ideas. If so, let me know. Email me with comments or questions! Feel free to speak to one of the professional sales staff at Trench Drain Systems by calling 610-638-1221.

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