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Does a Dry Well Need to Be Vented? Yes, Here’s Why

Locating a dry well is easy. It’s an area in the yard where water collects, but no plants are growing there.

Some soils naturally drain excess rainfall into underground areas or “dry wells.” Others have been designed specifically to do so with the installation of what is referred to as a “French Drain.”

To address issues such as backup and escape route for air, a dry well needs to be vented. Venting can prevent imbalance in pressure by releasing excess water or trapped air, preventing water infiltration into the house.

My neighbor recently placed a metal cover over his dry well, and I’m concerned it may not need to be vented.

Knowing the truth about vented vs. non-vented dry wells is critical to homeowners and landscapers.

This blog post will explain why it is necessary to vent a dry well and where to install it in order to avoid an underground water leakage.

Best location for a dry well

There’s nothing worse than seeing your lawn looking like a swamp.

If you have yet to find relief from your ever-so-wet property, then it may be time to invest in a dry well.

A dry well is an excavated circular pit in the ground, approximately 4 feet wide by 4 feet deep, that helps manage excess water.

While it isn’t an immediate fix to your lawn woes, this solution does promote proper drainage and can help alleviate water buildup around your property.

Ensure that your dry well is at least 10 feet away from your foundation. Also, keep in mind that dry wells will not prevent groundwater from pooling, but they can help decrease the amount of excess water.

Generally, dry wells are most effective when placed somewhere in the front or back of your property (not in between).

This is because these areas tend to be where water collects fastest.

If you’re unsure exactly where to dig, consider contact with local landscaping companies for advice.

Or, you can always test out potential locations with a bale of hay.

For instance, place the hay in the dry well location to see how quickly it soaks up water.

If you’re satisfied, then go for it!

Finally, you’ll need to empty your dry well when it gets full.

Generally, this only takes about 3-5 days with average rainfall and a significant amount of water collection.

Does a dry well need to be vented?

Sod installation is a big project, and a homeowner needs to ensure that their new lawn has a healthy root system.

The job is only finished when the water stops running from the bottom of the newly laid sod.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of gutters and downspouts, but I want to talk to you today about dry wells.

The homeowner can ensure that they will no longer see water using a dry well.

A dry well basin with perforated sides collects the extra water from the yard’s drainage systems, keeping it away from the foundation of your home.

According to the American GeoSciences Institute factsheet, a dry well can not only minimize the effects of stormwater runoff but can also help alleviate any local groundwater supplies recharge issues.

Properly installed, all of the excess water will finally drain into the dry well and then it will be carried away from your property.

A vent is a small pipe that allows the excess water to escape from the dry well. It also helps equalize air pressure inside and outside of the tube, allowing bubbles to rise more easily through the extra fluid in the dry well.

These underground water reservoirs are vented to allow trapped moisture, gas, and other substances to escape the drain system.

If the vent is not installed, then the dry well will eventually fill up to the top and water will begin to drain into your basement or foundation.

All of that excess water will be blocked from its path by bad air pressure.

Without a vent, the dry well would have no way of equalizing air pressure inside and outside of it.

It makes sense to pump a dry well

Eliminating rainwater run-off and replenishing surrounding soil with water is a key function of a dry well. When this process stops, it is important to understand why and what the next steps should be.

There are two main scenarios for homeowners when they discover their dry well has stopped working:

1) The dry well is clogged with debris or soil and needs to be drained

2) The dry well has become full and needs to be pumped out

If you find your dry well is full, it does not mean you need to immediately pump the water out of it. If the water level appears stable for several months, then you can choose whether or not to pump. 

You may consider adding a new dry well for additional water catchment.

If your dry well is clogged, you will need to remove the obstruction and re-establish the flow of water.

Look around the dry well to see if there might be other obstructions like tree roots preventing good drainage. 

It is likely that clearing any clogs will allow water to flow freely.

In some cases, a dry well is clogged because it has been improperly backfilled after being installed. In this case, the solution is simple: just re-dig and refill with proper soil.