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Pros and Cons of a Dry Well

dry well

A dry well is a smart and useful invention that can solve quite a few water issues on your property. But it’s not a universal solution for all of your water discharge problems. Allow our Baltimore basement waterproofing experts to tell you more about dry wells and their pros and cons.

What is a Dry Well?

Before we get to the pros and cons, let’s first determine what a dry well is. A dry well is a reservoir (usually a plastic barrel without a bottom) that collects unwanted water runoff and slowly releases it into the ground around it. This barrel is buried in the ground several feet deep and is surrounded by gravel or other loose aggregate. A pipe is connected to the barrel under the ground to supply the water, which is then released through the holes in the barrel into the gravel and the soil surrounding it. Dry wells are commonly used to dispose of water that comes from gutters, sump pumps, patios, driveways and other surfaces that tend to collect storm water.

Here is a video explaining the dry well installation process:

Benefits of a Dry Well

Get Rid of Sogginess

A dry well can help you keep your yard from developing puddles when it rains. If your roof water runoff is left to empty out on the grass, it can cause the water to sit on top of your lawn and flood low and flat areas on your property. This could leave your yard soggy for hours after the rain is over. With a dry well, the water is released underneath the ground, rather than on top, which eliminates puddles on the surface, unless it’s raining really hard.

Reduce Soil Erosion

When a water discharge pipe is left to exit on top of the ground, it can create a strong stream of water. This stream will wash out soil and carry the sediment and other pollutants into the storm drains, which often empty into local streams. With a dry well, this erosion is avoided and the water is allowed to slowly release into the ground, thus recharging the groundwater supplies.

Cons of a Dry Well

It’s Not Fail Proof

While a dry well may sound like a good idea, it doesn’t work 100% of the time. The speed with which the water is being absorbed into the ground is often not fast enough to keep up with the water supply. During heavy rains, the dry well may fill up all the way. If this happens, the excess water will be directed to the overflow cap installed at the tallest point of the dry well barrel to allow the water to spill on top of the ground if needed. If you get heavy rains frequently in your area, you would either need a bigger dry well, a secondary dry well or a different solution for water discharge.

It’s Prone to Clogging

Let’s say you are using a dry well to get rid of the roof water runoff. If you have unscreened gutters, the water that enters the discharge pipe and consequently the dry well may contain leaves and other debris. Leaves can easily cause clogs either in the discharge pipe or in the well itself, which can be difficult to clean.

Whether or not a dry well makes sense for your application will greatly depend on your property and your location. The best approach is to invite a Maryland waterproofing professional to do an inspection and see if a dry well is the best solution for you. In some areas, water discharge could be tied directly into the municipal storm drain, which is ideal for most homeowners.

Feel free to contact Basement Waterproofing Technologies with any questions about dry wells or other water discharge systems.