After tackling the gutter guards, we took to the downspouts to deal with the water rushing out onto the back corner of our house. The ground was getting pretty soggy over here so we decided to direct the water a little further away from the house.
A quick solution is to grab a plastic downspout extension from any Home Depot or Lowes and direct the flow away from your house. But if your doers like us and you want to get your hands a little dirty, then let me introduce you to the pop up drainage emitter.
This little guy puts the ‘fun’ in functional, or at least it does for people who are into that kinda thing. When it’s not raining, the green lid stays closed and sits flush with the ground making it easy to walk on and mow over. But when it is raining, the water from your gutters will slowly fill the underground PVC pipe until hydrostatic pressure causes the center green circle to raise up and allow water to drain out.
Let’s go over the supplies you’ll need…
- NDS Pop-Up Drainage Emitter with elbow (for a 4 inch pipe)
- 10 ft- 4 inch PVC pipe (the cheapest one will do!)
- Downspout extension (the length will depend on how far your downspout is from the ground)
- Offset downspout adapter for 4 inch pipe
- 4 inch angled PVC fittings suitable for slope (we used a two 45 degree fittings)
- Saw for trimming pipe
- Sand or drainage gravel
**Always call before you dig to make sure you don’t run into your utility lines!
These pop up drains work great, when installed correctly, and they blend in to your grass like it’s nobody’s business. So, let’s get to that “installed correctly” thing because that is the trickiest part.
Step 1: Locating the best spot
Examine your problem downspout’s location and consider, long term, where you want a pop up drain to be. Consider where the water will go when it drains out. If it’s back toward your house, that’s a red flag. Think about any future landscaping plans. You don’t want to block your drain in with landscaping. The photo below is deceiving, but the yard heavily slopes downward from the drain in this spot. It is also outside of the natural walkway through our gate to the right.
Step 2: Determining drain length
Most drainage experts will advise you to install your pop up drain at least 10 feet away from your house . There are, in my opinion, two main reasons for that: 1) The further you take water away from your house, the better and 2) You will need a long enough distance to allow for a good slope in the pipe. However, all yards are not created equal and there are a lot of other factors involved in your decision. Our yard, for example, is very sloped, so we’re not too worried about water finding it’s way back to our foundation so we were happy with a 5-ish foot distance. The 10-foot rule is not hard and fast, but you do want to ensure a good slope.
If you want to get really fancy, you can calculate a the ideal 2% slope by dividing the depth from the bottom of the pop up drain to the ground level and divide that number by the total length of your drain. If you remember any algebra, it’s the rise over run equation. Enjoy this immaculate graphic that I’m sure will be tremendously helpful.
Step 3: Dig the trench
This part stinks. There’s not way around it. You can make the job easier on yourself by using a pickaxe to carve it out. Start by carving out the full length of your drain and then come back to fine tune the slope of your trench. A hand trowel is best for this part. When you get to the end of your trench where the pop up drain will be, dig out a few inches around and under so that the drain is not sitting on dirt.
Step 4: Fill sand or drainage gravel
The bottom of the pop up drain has a hole that allows water to drain, even when there isn’t water pressure causing the drain to pop open. To give the water a place to drain properly, you’ll want to surround the bottom of the pop up drain with sand or drainage gravel.
Step 5: Cut pipe and check slope
Measure your pipe length and then add a foot or so. You can always cut more. Once your pipe is cut, lay it in your trench and ensure your slope is… slope-y. You can do this with a long level or measure and calculate the slope percentage. You’re goal is around 2%. NOTE: Save a little bit of length to help attach fittings in the next step.
Step 6: Install fittings onto downspout
Attach your downspout adapter to the gutter. It may be necessary to extend your downspout so that the adapter is just above ground level. Grab the fittings you will be using for the angled PVC pipe. I would suggest buying several different angle fittings, finding the best fit, and returning the ones that you don’t use. This will save you a Home Depot run when the fittings you were sure would work simply do not.
The order of our fittings is as follows: downspout adapter at the top immediately connecting to a 45 degree, a 6 inch pipe leading to another 45 degree fitting, and then connecting to the long drain pipe. Use the left over PVC pipe to connect the fittings in whatever fashion will fit your angled drain.
Step 7: Attach pop up drainage emitter
Attach the pop up drain to the long pipe. If necessary, fine tune the length of the long drain pipe until your pop up drain rests happily on the bed of sand or gravel. Make sure all of the fittings are tight and pointing straight down from the gutter. Below you can see us fine tuning the slope of the pipe. You can also see all of the different angled fittings we bought *just in case*.
Step 8: TEST
This step is so important. BEFORE you bury your pipe. Test it and see what happens. Because once you bury it and you find out it’s not working for whatever reason, you’re really not going to want to dig it back up. Grab your hose and spray water down the downspout adapter opening and make sure the pop up drain is doin’ it’s thang.
Step 9: Bury your drainage pipe
Shovel all of the dirt you dug out back on top of your drain, ensuring to leave a good slope around the pop up drain. To be specific, a slope leading away from your house in a direction where you want water to go. If you’re feeling lucky and extra ambitious, throw down some grass seed.
Step 10: Rainy day check
Wait for a good rainy day and go check out how your pop up drain is doing! Here’s hoping it’s working fabulously!
As always, thanks for stopping by and happy DIY-ing!