How to Install Lawn Pop-Up Drains

Pop-up drain emitters offer a simple solution for drainage problems around the perimeter of your house.
Diverting runoff from the gutters protects your foundations and your house.Diverting runoff from the gutters protects your foundations and your house.
When constructing a drainage system that allows water to seep into the ground isn't practical, a pop-up drain system allows you to divert it to a point at which it can safely flow downhill or out to the street. As the name suggests, a pop-up drain opens when there is water to drain and closes when the ground is dry, effectively keeping debris and small animals out of the system. For best results, the emitter should be at least 10 feet away from the house.

Step 1

Find a place for the pop-up emitter where water naturally collects. This should be at the lowest point where water collects and on a part of ground that slopes away from the house.

Step 2

Dig a hole at the collection point large enough to accommodate a 9- to 12-inch catch basin, using a shovel. The catch basin has a grid on top that should be at ground level, and it has an outflow port that should be facing in the direction of the emitter.

Step 3

Dig a trench wide enough to accommodate the pipe that connects the catch basin to the emitter. The pipe diameter depends on the amount of runoff you have to handle and the sizes of catch-basin and emitter you choose -- 3- and 4-inch PVC pipe are both appropriate.

Step 4

Dig the trench so you have a consistent downward slope from the catch basin to the emitter. Running the pipe horizontally at some point is OK, but the pipe shouldn't slope away from the emitter, or water may back out of the catch basin. Use a 4-foot level to check the slope. The release point for the water should be at a minimum 10 feet from the house.

Step 5

Assemble the pipe with PVC cement. Install a PVC elbow at the location of the emitter and glue the emitter to the elbow so it sits at ground level, then backfill the trench.

Things You Will Need

  • 9- to 12-inch catch basin
  • Shovel
  • 3- or 4-inch PVC pipe
  • 4-foot level
  • PVC cement
  • Pop-up emitter

About the Author

Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.