Trench Drains Defined

Trench drain system in a city scape

Trench drain systems are the unsung heroes of water control.

Alternately called troughs, channels or gutters, trench drain systems really do play a big role in controlling water. They evacuate surface water, contain chemical spills and protect utility lines. With solid covers or grating that sit flush with the adjoining surface, trench drains are commonly made by pouring concrete around a form or modular channel. Some trench drains are polymer based while others use metal liners to aid in channel crafting, chemical resistance, and slope formation.

econodrain cross section, trench drain cross section, channel drain cross section
Econodrain System by MultiDrain, in concrete pour

Characterized by its long length and narrow width, the cross section of the drain is a function of the maximum flow volume anticipated from the surrounding surface. Channels can range from inches to feet in width, and have depths that can reach 4 feet.

nds channel detail, channel drain cross section, nds trench cross section, spee-d channel detail
A channel drain by NDS, shown set in concrete

Trench drain is commonly seen in our daily lives and frequently overlooked. Look around the sidewalk at your local outdoor plaza or down the aisles of your neighborhood garden center. You’ll see it in a parking lot or at the base of a driveway sloping down to a loading dock or garage door. These are typical examples of trench drain being used for stormwater evacuation. The fluid being evacuated is rain water that is usually directed to a storm sewer. Trench drain used inside a building is usually associated with a sewer system. Quite often, trench systems in an automotive center, fire station, chemical plant or food processing plant are used for collecting spills or water used for washing down the work area. Fluids from these sites contain contaminants (oil, grit, organics, chemicals) that need to be isolated from storm water. The contents from “indoor” trench systems are often passed through an oil-water separator or neutralization chamber prior to being routed to the sanitary sewer line. With so many different applications for trench drain, it is no wonder that there are many different manufacturers of trench drain and so many different materials are used for making trench drain. This variety makes product selection a little difficult for the contractor or home owner who rarely needs to purchase a trench drain system. For us, this is what makes trench drain so interesting. Trench Drain Systems specializes in helping engineers, contractors and homeowners through their selection process. Our website offers information by application or system to help make the choice.

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