How to Cut a Drainage Channel in a Concrete Patio

Lead Image
  • 5-12 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 300-2,500
What You'll Need
Shovel or backhoe
Protective goggles
Pea gravel
Channel drain kit (including drain channel, grate, and interlocking drain pipe)

There’s nothing worse than going out on your concrete patio at the beginning of summer to start up the barbecue for a party, only to find yourself stepping in a cold puddle of water. Your patio should have been layered in such a way that any collected rainwater would run off its surface, but because it’s quite difficult to perfectly level the patio in this way, most homeowners have to deal with puddle-covered concrete patios at some point in time.

Installing a drain is the best solution to this problem. In order to do so, you’ll need to cut a drainage channel. This is a labor-intensive task, but you can still cut a drainage channel yourself by using the tools and following the steps outlined below.

Step 1 – Examine Your Patio

Before your start plowing into your concrete patio with the jackhammer, you need to identify the best spot to cut the drainage channel. You want to install the drain at the spot where water pools and collects. If it’s raining, observe to see the direction of the flow of collected water. If you’re having dry weather, you can do the same thing by running your garden hose over the patio.

Step 2 – Determine where Water will Drain

When you cut your drainage channel, you need to take into account both where the water collects on the patio, and where it drains out. You don’t want the drained water to collect at a level part of your yard, creating a stagnant pool that attracts insects. Look for an area of your yard that has a slope, preferably one that leads to a nearby stream or ditch.

Step 3 – Dig a Trench Outside

Dig a trench in your yard that will drain the water away from the bottom of the patio. You can do this manually with a shovel in order to lessen damage to your yard, or rent a backhoe if you want to accomplish the job quickly.

Step 4 – Cut the Drainage Channel

Now that you know where your drainage channel will begin and end, it’s time to start cutting. For this part of the job, you’ll need a jackhammer, which you can rent from a home repairs store or another specialized shop. Remember, safety first: wear your safety goggles and protective gloves. If you have children or pets, make sure they won’t come outside while you’re working. With the jackhammer, cut the drainage channel down to where you dug the trench in your yard so that the water will flow in the correct direction.

Step 5 – Install the Pipes

To finish the job, mix the cement and spread a layer (about 3 inches thick) around the mouth and sides of the drainage channel. Assemble the pipes from your channel drain kit, insert them in the drainage channel and cement them into place. Install the drain grate on your concrete patio once the cement has dried. In your yard, cover the trench with pea gravel and soil.