Understanding Vertical Access Connections In Exterior Drain Tiles

Construction & Contractors Articles

Vertical access connections are a debatable part of exterior drain tiles. Some contractors do not routinely install access points and claim that drain tiles should be self-maintaining. Others recognize the benefit of having access to your system in case of an emergency. If you are debating whether or not you need vertical access connections as part of your system, you should learn the basics about them. 

Purpose of Vertical Access Connections 

The vertical sections of PVC pipe connected to your exterior drain tile serve several purposes. Their main purpose is to allow for easy maintenance of your system, but they also allow you to check your system for problems and give you a better idea of where your buried connections are located. 

  • Cleaning:  The vertical access points allow you or your contractor to easily snake a hose into the main pipe of your exterior drain tile. By blasting water into your system at a high pressure, you can clean out any potential blockages or buildups of dirt and rocks. 
  • Check Your System:  If your system is draining slowly and a routine cleaning does not fix the situation, you may have a compacted blockage or roots growing into your main pipe. With regular vertical connections, you can easily send a camera into your pipe to see exactly where and what your problem is. At this point, you can either blast the problem with compressed air or pressurized water, or you will know exactly where you need to dig and replace your pipe, preventing you from having to tear up large sections of your yard. 
  • Know Where Your Pipe Connections are Located:  Every place where you have a vertical access point is a place where your pipe has a connection. Having several vertical points gives you an outline of where your pipe connections are located. This can allow you to dig out and replace an exact section of pipe instead of having to dig longer sections to find the natural ends of a section of pipe. 
  • Release Pressure In Your System:  As water moves through your system, pressure can build up in front of the water. Vertical access points give points where air can escape the system, relieving pressure and reducing the risk of water backing up in your system. This is especially important in systems that have a steep grade.  


Vertical access connections are relatively easy to install. They are generally the same diameter as your main pipe or slightly smaller. While the majority of the vertical pipe should not be perforated, you may want to make perforations on the section of the pipe that is above ground. This allows surface water to easily drain down the pipe. 

The vertical pipe can be connected to the main pipe with a PVC t-connection. It should be glued or cemented into place. The vertical pipe should protrude far enough above ground that it will not be buried by shifting soil. It should be capped to avoid debris entering your system, and it should be clearly marked to prevent injury. 

How Often to Clean 

A properly installed exterior drain tile should not need maintenance very often. In fact, traditional systems often had no vertical access points and lasted decades without maintenance. However, if you notice any type of wetness seeping into your foundation or basement, you should consider pressure cleaning your system. If you live in a particularly wet area, you may want to complete an annual pressure cleaning after the wet season. 

When to Perform a System Check 

If you notice a backup in your system with water entering your home or a foul smell coming from your access pipes, you may want to check your system for blockages. You can either rent a camera and attach it to a drain snake yourself or you can call a contractor or plumber to check your system for blockages. 

While you can install a drain tile without vertical access points, any time you need to perform maintenance you will have to dig down to the main pipe. Installing a few access points gives you peace of mind for the future maintenance of your system. 


11 September 2015

Building our Guest House Was a Great Decision

For years, my wife and I debated on what we wanted to do with all of the spare land in the back of our house. We were lucky enough to buy a house on an extra-large lot for a great deal, but the land was "going to waste" for quite a while. One day, we finally decided to have a guest house built on it, and now that the house is finished, we wish we had built it long ago. We are now renting it out for some extra income, and it is helping us save for retirement. I have always been fascinated by construction, so I enjoyed watching the professionals build the guest house and learned a lot during the process. I decided to fill some free time by blogging about the experience and sharing some construction info I learned during the process. Come back soon!