Do you have excess water collecting around your home or on your property after it rains and need a way to drain it? If this sounds like you, you probably have heard of a sump pump dry well and how effective they are at draining runoff water – but you are probably wondering what a dry well is.
Sump Pump Dry Well Information
A sump pump dry well is a porous hole that allows stormwater and other drainage from your yard to flow back into the groundwater supply. The inside is usually from gravel, perforated pipe, and pea gravel, allowing water runoff to flow into the underground structure and slowly drain into the surrounding water table and soil.
There might be standing water at the bottom of the pit after heavy rain, but the unwanted water will drain over the next few days into the soil.
How Does Sump Pump Dry Well Help?
A sump pump dry well helps drain excess stormwater from your yard before it can flood your basement or damage the foundation of your house. They are a popular way to collect roof runoff, stormwater drainage, and irrigation water and put it back into the water table and surrounding soil.
They don’t require electricity and very little maintenance – you only have to install them where the stormwater runoff pools in your yard.
Dry wells are also effective to install around paved surfaces. Since it can be hard to run electricity to a remote drainage system, a dry well might answer your drainage problem.
How to Install a Sump Pump Dry Well?
Installing a dry well is easy – all you need is some tools from the shed and materials for the well. We recommend digging the well with a friend so you have some help with the digging!
Dry Well Material and Tools
- A pickaxe for breaking the ground
- A shovel for digging the well
- A basin for the well
- Pea Gravel
- A PVC Pipe or other Drainage Pipe
- Landscaping fabric
Follow these step by steps directions to dig you dry well
1. Dig the Hole
The first step is to dig the hole for your new well. A good depth for a dry well is at least 5 feet. By digging deeper, you can drain more water without worrying about a frozen well in the winter.
2. Add the Basin to the bottom
Once you dig to the bottom of the well, place the basin securely at the bottom, and ensure it is recognized as levelly as possible so you don’t have to dig up the well in a few years. At the bottom of the basin should be a final drain tile for any water that makes it to the bottom of the gravel.
3. Lay Gravel, Fabric and Containing Wire
The next step is to add the gravel, landscaping fabric and containing wire to build the sides of the well. Go slow and make sure to build solid well wall so it does not collapse during a heavy downspout.
4. Test Drainage
The final step in building a dry well is to test the drainage. Use a garden hose and spray water at the well for a few minutes – it should all drain down into the gravel and filter into the soil.
Where to Install a Sump Pump Dry Well?
The best place to install a dry well is where water is pooling in your yard. By installing a well in the water drainage path, you can return the water to the soil and prevent damaging floods with a simple dry well.
Simple dry wells are an effective way to prevent water from pooling and add extra yard drainage but letting the water flow directly into the soil – instead of draining it to the street or storm sewer.
Common Dry Well Problems
A dry well is a robust way to drain stormwater runoff from your yard but there are a few problems that can pop up from time to time. First, you need to make sure you system can drain gray water if you plan on using it for that or you could be creating a health hazard.
Another common problem is debris building up on the bottom and side and slowing drainage. A common fix for this problem is to add landscape fabric into the sides of the well when building it.
Dry Wells in Clay Soil
You can use a dry well in clay soil, but you should still use the landscaping fabric to prevent your well from caving in and building it deep enough to drain water.
This is important because clay soils shrink and expand with dryness and wetness, which can damage structures like wells. If the well collapses, it can cause a hazard if you step on the surface and it will prevent drainage and eventually cause a pool of water in your yard.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of a dry well?
You can use a dry well to add additional water drainage and flood protection in areas a pump will not work.
What is the difference between a dry well and a septic tank?
A drywell is a part of a septic system to dispose of grey wastewater. A drywell drains the wastewater into the surrounding soil while a septic tank contains the waste water.
How much does it cost to install a dry well?
If you dig the well a dry well can be installed for about $100 in materials – if you call a professional installation company it will cost about $500.
Are dry wells good?
Dry wells are effective but they do not offer as much drainage in clay soil. They are one of the most effective ways of draining water
Can Dry Wells Use Gray Water?
Some dry wells can drain gray water but it is important to remember where the water is draining to and to ensure it does not run into a water supply.
Where should a dry well be placed?
Your dry well should be placed at least 30 feet from your foundation to prevent problems. It is also a good idea to check where underground pipes are buried before you start digging.
Can a Dry Well Freeze in Winter?
It is almost impossible for a properly built dry well to freeze. Since it is built underground it is difficult for the entire system to get cold enough to freeze, and if it does there are no mechanical parts to break!
Dry Wells vs French Drain Systems