Installing Culvert Pipe in Your Driveway

A driveway leading to a house.
  • 10-20 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 1,000-10,000
What You'll Need
Tape measure
Gasoline powered concrete saw
Culvert pipe
Concrete or asphalt mix
3 pieces of 2x4 lumber
Wooden stakes

If you are trying to drain rainwater away from your property, you may want to consider installing a culvert pipe in your driveway. These can be made in a variety of sizes, and of a variety of materials. Depending on your needs, you can choose from heavy gauge plastic, reinforced concrete, or corrugated steel. Here is a list of things you will need and the steps involved, in order to install one in your driveway.

Step 1 - Find Out if You Need a Permit

You will need to contact your local building code enforcement to find out if you are going to need a permit in order to build a culvert in your driveway. Most likely you will. Most building code enforcement inspectors will require you to get a permit to do any work on your property. If they do, they may have specific requirements about the size pipe you can use. There may be some specifications for the actual process as well.

Step 2 - Buy Your Culvert Pipe

A driveway leading up to a house.

Now that you have your permit, you can buy your pipe for the project. Make sure your pipe has enough length to extend just a little past the low end of your driveway. This will prevent corrosion from water pooling at the end of your driveway. In order to protect the pipe from damage due to traffic, you should plan for 6 to 18 inches of backfill below the driveway and over the pipe.

Step 3 - Draw an Outline

Draw two chalk lines, parallel to each other, across the driveway. Make sure they are apart from each other at the least 1½ times the diameter pipe. For example, you will draw the lines 9 inches apart if your culvert is 6 inches in diameter.

Step 4 - Make Space for Your Culvert Pipe

Using your gasoline powered concrete saw, begin cutting at the chalk lines you just drew. When you have cut to your desired depth, remove the concrete and asphalt pieces. Next, dig a trench with a downward slope at the bottom in the direction that you want the water to flow through the culvert.

Step 5 - Install the Pipe

A driveway leading up to a house.

Lay your gravel in a 4-inch layer along the bottom of the trench. Make sure to compact it. Lay the pipe down over the gravel. Check the slope with a level to make sure it is at least 1/4-inch per foot. Make sure the pipe is supported completely by the gravel underneath.

Step 6 - Finish the Installation

Fill the trench with some of the dirt you dug out, plus gravel around the pipe. Put in a little slope once again, to make sure that the water flows away from your driveway. Don’t forget to tamp it down once you are finished filling. Make sure you do not overfill the trench, because you need to leave enough room for the concrete or asphalt you will use to repair your driveway now that the culvert pipe has been successfully installed.