All You Need to Know About Dry Wells

Dry wells are an effective solution for managing excess water on your property, preventing water damage, and preserving the integrity of your foundation. If you’re looking to install a dry well on your property, it’s essential to understand what they are and how they work. This guide will cover all the essential information you need to know about dry well installation, including  purpose and benefits, an overview of the installation process itself and how to conduct proper maintenance to ensure longevity.

What Is A Dry Well?

A dry well is an underground storage facility that receives and stores water, most commonly surface runoff and stormwater. Water is fed into the dry well via drainage pipes that collect runoff from different places, including gutters, sump pumps, and yard basins. It features a perforated dry well unit with an open bottom that captures water and lets it slowly disperse into the ground.

Purpose of Dry Wells

A dry well can be a practical solution to prevent basement flooding and water damage from occurring. Once installed, downspouts and drains redirect rainfall and runoff water from surfaces such as roofs and driveways into a dry well buried in the ground. The well leverages the perforated units, allowing water to dissipate gradually and drain safely into the ground.

Benefits of Installing Dry Wells

A dry well is an effective solution to many common property drainage issues. The top advantages of dry wells include the following:

  • It helps mitigate property damage and aids in the flow of water whenever there are excess rainstorms.
  • It helps keep hardscapes dry and safe.
  • It reduces the adverse effects of stormwater runoff on streams and rivers.
  • Dry well systems contain adequate oxygen, which enhances the health of your plant roots and landscape.
  • It is an affordable solution that is relatively easy to maintain.

Understanding Dry Well Installation

What is Dry Well Installation?

Dry well installation refers to the process used to install an underground water storage facility known as a dry well unit. A dry well installation is not a simple project to install on your own. For this reason, it is always advisable to hire a licensed professional company to undertake the installation. Professionals have the expertise and tools necessary to do a great job.

How Dry Well Installation Works

During the installation, a hole typically measuring three feet wide at the surface and 30 to 70 feet deep underground is dug. A professional will then line the hole with perforated casings before installing the dry well unit. Spaces are then filled with gravel and sand to ensure the dry well disperses water properly into the ground. Quality dry well installation involves pretreatment to remove oil and other contaminants. This effectively eliminates the risks of clogging and transmission of pollutants underground.

Types of Dry Wells Available

Dry wells may have a variety of designs and are often referred to by different names. Common types of stormwater drainage wells include:

  • Dry wells
  • Bored wells
  • Infiltration galleries

Factors to Consider When Installing a Dry Well

The following are some of the factors to keep in mind when installing a dry well:

  • Slope of the land: Always choose a site on flat land or where the surrounding site slopes away. This ensures water drains into the well while preventing contamination.
  • Proximity from other bores: Ensure the location you choose is not close to other wells that have already been drilled. It should also be away from basements and septic fields. This guarantees the structural integrity of your well.
  • Groundwater level: Assessing groundwater levels can help you avoid locations with the highest water tables. Digging a well on unsuitable grounds results in the well filling up too quickly
  • Depth of the hole: Generally, dry wells have standard measurements. However, you can adjust the measurement based on your specific needs. If you are expecting substantial quantities of water, dig a deeper hole.
  • Infiltration test: The ideal site must pass the infiltration test. Infiltration tests estimate the rate at which runoff infiltrates or passes through native soil.

Preparing for Dry Well Installation

The following are the steps to prepare the installation site for your site:

 Site Assessment: This involves finding the precise location for dry well installation. The ideal site should ensure excess water will drain into the well by gravitational flow. The ideal location should have the capacity to receive and infiltrate large amounts of concentrated runoff.

Permit Requirements: Some states require permits to install a dry well. Where applicable, apply for the permit well in advance to avoid unnecessary delays. A permit may be prohibited if the project carries hazards that could impact the safety of people, structures, and the environment.

Collect Tools and Equipment Needed: You also need to acquire various tools and equipment. Ensure you invest in tools such as a pick and shovel, a bucket, wheelbarrow, level, tape measure, and more. Professionals leverage modern tools such as excavators and mobile cranes. Other equipment includes a dry well unit and washed, round stones to disperse runoff water properly into the ground.

Budgeting for Dry Well Installation: You must also create a budget for your project. The national average cost of dry well installation is currently $3,030. However, depending on your location, you may need as low as $1,165 and as high as $4,420 to set up the unit.

Dry Well Installation Process

Use the following steps to install a dry well:

  1. Excavating the Site: Use a handled shovel to dig a hole measuring 4 feet deep and 4 feet wide. Tunnel under the sidewalk and dig a trench measuring 1 foot and 6 inches wide that slopes gently towards the hole. Ensure the dry well is at least 10 feet from your house and 3 feet from the property line. This guarantees the safety of your home while preventing the risk of damage to your neighbors’ property.
  2. Placing the Dry Well: Assemble the dry well and place it in the hole before sliding the port over the PVC pipe. Fit the overflow emitter to efficiently carry excess water away from the well.
  3. Connecting to Drainage System: use the trenches you dug to connect the well with your drainage system. Where there is no existing system, buy several PVC pipes and line them to reach the end of the downspout. Dry fit the pieces and lay the pipes in the trench. Glue the pieces together using PVC cement.
  4. Backfilling and Compacting: fill the entire hole with landscape fabric and top it off with sod.

Maintenance and Upkeep of Dry Wells

Importance of Regular Maintenance

Although dry wells are designed to function for years without issues, sediment and debris may wash along with the runoff. Such material can clot the pit walls and impact the well’s functionality and durability. However, regular maintenance and upkeep prevent such issues while guaranteeing the well’s ability to disperse water effectively.

Common Maintenance Issues

Like all other home improvement projects, dry wells have their share of problems, especially where routine maintenance is missing. The following are some of the common maintenance issues to expect:

  • Clogging of sediments and debris that wash along
  • Slow drainage that causes flooding in other areas of your property
  • Basement seepage, especially where the dry well is installed upslope from the basement
  • Collapse of walls and well stones due to slow drainage
  • Poorly maintained dry well becomes a breeding place for bacteria and can release unpleasant smells

Tips for Proper Maintenance of Dry Wells

A dry well is a relatively low-maintenance unit, but it doesn’t mean you forego maintenance altogether. Servicing your dry well should be an ongoing practice whether you are doing it on your own or with the help of professionals. Here are some ways to maintain your dry well:

Remove debris: With time, debris, such as grass clippings, branches, and leaves, may form a blockage at the entrance. This can prevent water from draining into the well properly. Check the opening of the well regularly and clear away debris.

Address standing water: Survey the site for standing water that indicates the well is not working properly. Troubleshoot and fix the issue as soon as you can. You can also call your plumber to check and fix the problem.

Clean gutters: Occasional cleaning of gutters can prevent many of the most common dry well maintenance issues. Most runoff going into the well comes from the gutters and spouts system. Gutter cleaning ensures the water is free from debris and sediments that could clog the well.

Contact Drycrete Waterproofing for Expert Services

For many homeowners, rainwater can be a considerable nuisance. When water runoff doesn’t drain properly, it can flood basements and cause damage to properties. Excess water from heavy rainfall needs somewhere to go when the surrounding soil becomes oversaturated. That is where dry wells come in. Dry wells are very effective at preventing a number of different water-related issues, from damage, flooding, and erosion to slipping hazards.


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