How to Install Lawn Pop Up Drain Emitters

drainage trench with plastic pipes
  • 15-30 hours
  • Advanced
  • 1,000-6,000

The drainage of any property is essential. Pop up drain emitters can help move water around to avoid moisture damage to your buildings or landscape. You have to notice if the water is draining, how it's draining, where it's pooling up, and where it's flowing well. You have to know how to fix draining problems. And sometimes, to do this, you have to know how to install drainage pop up emitters. Check out our guide on how to install pop up drains to get started.

Pop up drain emitters connect to downspouts, channel runoff through a flexible tube underground, then "pop up" to disperse the water over a large surface area. This can vastly reduce erosion and water damage to landscaping and foundations.

After the water flow slows, the lid on the emitter shuts. It goes back to sitting flat against the ground and it's painted green so it's difficult to see hidden in the grass. This self-closing lid prevents debris, pests, and plants from getting down into the drain and causing clogs.

How to Install Lawn Pop Up Drain Emitters

Installing pop up drain emitters means installing pipe and digging a trench but it's actually not as complicated as it sounds. This is a DIY project anyone can take on.

If you've got a shovel and a home improvement store nearby where you can purchase pipe, you've got everything you need to get this done in fairly short order, depending on how long our trench is and how fast you can dig.

Pop up drain emitters are a very effective way to route water away from your home and they are not difficult to install. Give this project a try and start managing your home's drainage far more efficiently and effectively.

Pop up drain emitters are wondrous little things but they don't work independently. These emitters need to be integrated into your overall home drainage system.

Standard drain emitters are available in three and and four-inch sizes to fit into both smooth wall PVC and corrugated pipes that connect directly to a downspout, sump pump, or catch basin. In other words, you will need drain pipe in addition to the emitter. But before that, you're going to need a shovel!

Step 1 - Dig a Trench

trench with pop up drain

Since pop up drain emitters must "pop up" out of the ground, they must first be buried. This means you'll need to dig a trench. The trench should go from the end of your downspout to a point in the yard where you want the water to appear.

Dig the trench in such a way that it slopes downward toward the spot where the drain emitter will be placed, at least ten feet from your building. The downspout end of the trench should sit higher than the endpoint and slope down from the former to the latter.

The trench must be wide enough and deep enough to fully bury the drainage pipe and then some. You want a little bit of moving room to get perfect placement. Continuously check the slope with a level. The entire trench must have a downward slope or the water will pool up in the pipe. This is not what you want!

Drainage pipes should only be a few inches underground. Remember that the water has to be forced upward from the pipe to come out of this drain. If the drainpipe is too deeply buried, the water will have to be forced up too high and it will back up instead.

Step 2 - Lay the Drain Pipe

drainage trench with plastic pipes

Now, place the drainpipe in your trench. Go ahead and connect the pieces of pipe together using fittings and sealant, such as PVC cement, to ensure a watertight connection. Test the pipe with a hose and run water through the pipe.

For now, the ends aren't attached to anything. But this test will show you whether or not the water is flowing well. Once you're sure your slope is right and you've made the necessary adjustments, you can start the process of finishing this DIY project.

Step 3 - Attach the Downspout

Use fittings and sealant to attach the downspout to the pipe using a flexible hose. If the gutters and downspout continue to drain water freely, the water will now go directly into the drainpipe that will ultimately connect to the pop up emitter.

Step 4 - Attach the Pop Up Drain Emitter

pop up drain emiter

Place an elbow at the end of the drainpipe and seal it. The elbow must be pointing up at the sky! This is essential. Sit the end of the pipe and the elbow down in the trench.

Step 5 - Place the Emitter

The drain emitted will attach to the elbow. The emitter will sit up out of the ground but remain flush with the ground. Check the pipes and emitter and make sure you like the placement of everything.

Step 6 - Backfill the Trench

Now, you're got to cover up all that pipe. Add dirt around the pipe to bring the ground level, then pack in some more. The dirt will settle in a few days. If you don't mound it up a little, it will end up creating a depression in the ground.

Pack the dirt down, mound it up and make sure that everything is covered. Make sure also that the drain emitter itself is not covered but packed in tight and flush with the new dirt. Add more dirt as needed as the ground settles.

Step 7 - Add Grass Seed

Sprinkle the dirt with some grass seed and water the area thoroughly. Use your shovel to tamp down the dirt.

Pop Up Drain Emitter FAQ

pop up drain emiters

How Much Slope Do You Need for a Pop Up Emitter?

You should have at least a two percent slope on the fall of the pipe. This means the beginning of the pipe will stand two percent higher than the pop up drain emitter.

What Problems Can You Expect with a Pop Up Drain Emitter?

If drainage piping isn't sloped steeply enough, or if it gets blocked with debris, water won't flow smoothly through it. This can lead to back up, flooding, and even burst pipes.

Will You Find Standing Water in a Pop Up Drain?

If the drainpipe doesn't have enough slope or it's buried too deep, you could end up with water pooling up somewhere along this drainage system. This can create bad smells and attract insects and pests, so test the system to make sure water flows cleanly through.

What Is an NDS Pop Up Emitter?

NDS is a popular brand of drain emitter that's easy to find everywhere, from brick and mortar home improvement stores to online retailers. This is a popular brand and probably the one you will see most often while you are searching for the right pop up emitter for your drainage system.

What Are Some Pop Up Drain Emitter Alternatives?

drainage outlet in grass

There are other drainage solutions. You can choose to install French drains. No, they don't have an accent and they don't involve pastries. French drains are ditches that have been lined with gravel. A pipe is embedded into the gravel.

French drains are a good solution if you have an area of your lawn with a lot of standing water. They are shallow and simple drains that work effectively to move water from one place to another.

How Much Does a Pop Up Drain Emitter Cost?

Pop up drain emitters are pretty simple, inexpensive devices that typically cost less than $25. However, you'll also need to purchase the pipes and the fittings to go along with the emitter and attach it to your downspout.

Depending on how much pipe you're going to put down, this can add up to several thousand dollars. However, the piping and the fittings are not individually expensive, either, so you might be able to set up a workable system with just a few hundred.

Further Reading

Building Drainage: Dos and Don'ts

Deck Drainage Mistakes to Avoid

Drainage System Design: 3 Mistakes to Avoid

Drainage System Design Basics and Tips

How to Plan Patio Drainage to Avoid Drainage Problems

Installing a Perforated Drainage Pipe

Proper Drainage Makes for a Dry Basement