How to Install an Underground Perforated Drainage Pipe

Updated July 20, 2017

Rain and snow can cause massive amounts of soil to become wet and heavy with water, increasing its pressure upon building foundations and basements. The most common solutions to this problem are downspouts and rain gutters, as well as foundational drain tiles, which funnel water away from foundations and basements. An easy improvement upon these systems, however, is the installation of corrugated drain tile. Properly installed, these drain tiles take much of the pressure off of the foundation drains and downspout funnels, potentially prolonging their longevity and that of your building's foundation or basement.

Dig a trench, using the shovel and pickaxe, starting below your downspout and extending directly away from your building's foundation. The trench should be at least 20 feet long, 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep directly below the downspout though gradually declining as it proceeds away from the building. Use the measuring tape to check your trench's length, width and initial depth. To check if you have the proper decline, use the hose to introduce as much water as you can to the start of the trench. If the water does not properly flow from one end of the trench to the other, use the shovel to fix the trench's decline.

Spread gravel into the trench using the shovel until about 2 inches of gravel cover the bottom of the entire trench.

Insert the unperforated drain tile over the end of the downspout, and lead the drain tile into the trench. Cut off the drain tile with the box cutter 6 inches beyond where the drain pipe reaches the base of the trench.

Lay the perforated drain tile alongside the trench, with one end alongside the start of the trench. Cut off the drain tile with the box cutter where it meets the end of the trench.

Roll one to two layers of weed barrier fabric around the perforated drain tile, cutting it to appropriate sizes with the box cutter, and securing it into place with duct tape. When finished, insert your hand into one end of the drain tile, and feel for the perforations, marking that side of the pipe with duct tape for easy identification later. Repeat with the other side.

Lay the drain pipe into the trench and insert its wide end fitting over the end of the unperforated drain pipe, but make sure that the perforations face the bottom of the trench first. Secure the pipe into the centre of the trench by inserting gravel into the trench over the pipe with the shovel. Continue until at least 2 inches of gravel cover the entire pipe.

Cover the rest of the trench with soil you dug up, using the shovel. To ensure that the top of the trench does not sag later on, jump on the loose soil to pack it down after you place each 6-inch layer into the trench. Repeat until the top of the trench is flush with the ground alongside it. Discard excess soil.


Depending upon whether you live in an urban area, you should call your local city services to mark any underground wires or pipes before you start digging. Don't worry, it's always free. This draining technique, also called a French drain, re-routes the water from your downspout away from the foundation, but you may wish to insert another system around your foundation directly. The principle is the same, but on a much larger scale: the trench around your foundation should have the perforations facing up, and you should insert a "T" fitting at the low end of your ring and lead this "T" at least 20 feet away from your house before beginning a French drain.


Go very slowly when cutting the pipe with the box cutter. The pipe has a tendency to catch the blade, and going too quickly might result in an injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Pickaxe
  • Tape measure
  • Hose
  • Gravel
  • Un-perforated drain tile
  • Box cutter
  • Weed barrier fabric
  • Duct tape
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About the Author

C. Paul Martin began writing in 2003 while studying at Christendom College, Va. He specializes in theological/ideological history and socio-historical topics such as the Reformation, the Crusades and the ideology of revolutions. Martin holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in history and theology, and is pursuing his Master of Arts in history at National University in California.