How Do You Build a Year-Round Drain?

I’ve had a few questions come my way in regards to exactly how our home-made-year-round drain works. I’d already been dreaming during this (literally) very dark time right before Solstice, of hot sun and projects outside. As much as I love the winter – the quiet, the dark, the long nights of reading and hot drinks – right before Solstice I always feel a little twitchy and eager for the gradual return of the sun.

So, in a walk down memory lane, of long sunny days with lots of Outdoor Projects, let us go back to that lovely day in July. Heavy equipment rented, a 55 gallon drum procured from ye-olde-TS, and the building of an experimental year-round drain which has (so far) proved to be a success!

A real big hole. Pipes have been buried across our driveway and the drain will be located on the downhill side of said driveway.

A real big hole. Pipes have been buried across our driveway and the drain will be located on the downhill side of said driveway.

Justin gives the hole some perspective. You have to dig really deep to where the ground doesn't freeze.

Justin gives the hole some perspective. You have to dig really deep to where the ground doesn’t freeze.

Drilling holes in the drum.

Drilling holes in the drum.

Getting ready to put the 55 gallon drum in.

Getting ready to put the 55 gallon drum in.

Drum in, now to add the rocks.

Drum in, now to add the rocks.

Rocks in.

Rocks in.

Smile!

Smile!

Plastic on top, with rocks to secure it. Pack rocks around the drum to stabilize it.

Plastic on top, with rocks to secure it. Pack rocks around the drum to stabilize it.

Alex and Maple covering up the drum with the first layer of dirt.

Alex and Maple covering up the drum with the first layer of dirt.

After the first layer of dirt was down and we weren't worried about breaking the pipe anymore we brought out the big guns.

After the first layer of dirt was down and we weren’t worried about breaking the pipe anymore we brought out the big guns.

Why did we choose to build the drain this way? Our friend Matt originally gave us the idea of placing a drain into a drum and then packing the drum with large pieces of rocks. The holes drilled into the bottom of the drum allow water to drain out the bottom while the rocks cut down on the chance of the water freezing into huge chunks of ice that could potentially block the drainpipe. The plastic on top insulates and the pipes are all taped together at multiple junctions. The real gamble was whether 18-ft was deep enough, but we’ve now made it through our first cold snap (a week of -30) and the drain held up like a champ!

Kudos also needs to be given to my brother, who was living on the land at the time, in a tiny pop-up camping trailer that Maple and myself had inherited. We woke him up at 7 a.m. with the enormous amount of noise that a backhoe is capable of making. Instead of being grouchy (as I probably would have been) he just put on his boots and helped us haul 4-5 pound rocks, shovel dirt and build a drain.

Next summer we’re building a Greenhouse out of entirely recycled materials and hopefully very soon we’ll have finished our Trapshed and I’ll be able to do a blog post on that. With the exception of the Garagehome, almost everything else we build on the land is built out of materials scrapped, scrounged or traded, which lends all our constructions a very 1907’s-living-in-the-woods sort of vibe. Just the way we like it.

Cheers and love,

Maple and Me

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