What is a Perforated Pipe?

Patrick Roland

When the rain pours and flooding occurs, perforated pipe is a good solution. Coming in a variety of sizes for an equally diverse number of uses, this plastic pipe helps ease soggy yards, flooded fields and wet basements. Knowing the different options is a great way to understand what the best type of drainage is for a particular situation.

PVC pipes are commonly used to make perforated pipes.
PVC pipes are commonly used to make perforated pipes.

Perforated pipe can be made of a variety of materials, including iron, PVC, cement and clay, but the most popular type is polyethylene. This thick plastic is lightweight and flexible. Flexibility is essential for these types of pipes, because they are always buried underground. When the ground expands and contracts with the seasons, more rigid pipes can crack, but polyethylene flexes with the movement and stays in one piece.

One of the biggest users of perforated pipe drainage is the agriculture industry.
One of the biggest users of perforated pipe drainage is the agriculture industry.

The signature characteristic of perforated pipe is the perforated holes or slots in the pipe. By cutting holes or slots, it can fill with water when the ground becomes saturated. This pipe carries the wetness away and allows the ground to stay dry. The number and size of holes differ between pipes because each combination serves different purposes. Most are relatively small in order to keep dirt out of the tube and prevent buildup and clogging.

A system of perforated pipes can keep crop fields from flooding while allowing groundwater to stay.
A system of perforated pipes can keep crop fields from flooding while allowing groundwater to stay.

Residential perforated pipe tends to be fairly small, usually about 5 inches (127 mm) in diameter. Perforated pipe installation around the house occurs frequently to prevent yards from flooding during heavy rains. Another common domestic use is for waterproofing basements. Placing a buffer of pipe around the foundation prevents leakage into basements and water damage.

Public spaces also are major users of plastic perforated pipe. Large grassy areas use this to help prevent turning a baseball diamond or a playground into a swamp. These larger spaces tend to utilize larger-diameter pipe because more water filters through.

One of the biggest users of perforated pipe drainage is the agriculture industry. A flooded field can ruin crops and result in a major financial loss. Proper usage of pipes helps keep crops from being overwatered by carrying away excess moisture to nearby ditches. Large 12-inch (304 mm) pipes often are half perforated. This style allows water that comes from the surface and hits the top half of the pipe to be taken away and allows natural groundwater to stay.

Perforated pipe is used to help prevent baseball diamonds and playgrounds from turning into swamps due to rainfall.
Perforated pipe is used to help prevent baseball diamonds and playgrounds from turning into swamps due to rainfall.

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