Most people hire a professional when installing a culvert for their driveway, which, depending on the length and type of pipe required, can cost anywhere between $800 to $8,000. depending on complexity. With this in mind, you may be thinking, “why don’t I just do it myself?”
A word of caution. A project like this requires some heavy equipment and the knowledge to use it correctly. If you’re uncertain about how to operate a skid-steer loader with backhoe attachment, for example, you should probably seek out professional expertise. However, if you do plan to install or replace a culvert on your own, there are some steps you should take to make sure the process is completed successfully and safely. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install your own culvert.
A word of caution: As a professional company in good standing with TXDOT, and the state of Texas, it's hard for us to recommend you take on a project such as installing your own culvert. We don't recommend you install your own unless you have a very high level of construction experience and even then, we would hesitate. It's dangerous and difficult, and you may just find that city and county inspectors won't respond to a homeowner in the same way they would a professional. This means that you may run into a lot more difficulty if you choose to handle the project on your own. If the job requires cement safety ends, you will have to hire someone. Remember, city and county rules change over time so the culvert you have in now may not be allowed anymore and will have to be replaced with something else. Don't install anything without making sure you know what the requirements are or you can be subject to fines or a forced removal of the driveway. Installing a culvert yourself does present a safety and financial risk.
If you're in North Texas, ask us for a Free Estimate or Contact Us for more information.
See Who is Responsible for Culvert Maintenance in Texas for more information.
When installing a pipe culvert for your driveway, private road, or other drainage needs, there are many materials available. Which material you choose can have a big impact on the culvert's longevity, so it helps to familiarize yourself with the main causes of pipe deterioration as well as the culvert materials most commonly used to combat them.
Common causes of pipe culvert deterioration are corrosion, abrasion, and physical wear. Corrosion occurs when substances with non-neutral pH balances come into contact with metals, usually through soil or water contamination. When this happens, a chemical reaction causes metal pipes to rust, weakening the culvert. Metal culverts, in particular, are vulnerable to corrosion.
Abrasion occurs when materials brought into the culvert by water, such as sand and small rocks, scrape against the pipe wall and damage it over time.
The recurring bearing of heavy loads and other physical wear and tear can also damage pipes. If the material used to build the culvert has not been correctly installed or is not strong enough to withstand heavy loads driving over it, it may buckle or crack. Recurring temperature fluctuations (freezing and thawing) can also lead to structural damage.
Certain materials will hold up to different forms of deterioration better than others. This article explains the three main materials used to build culverts—plastic, metal, and concrete—and their pros and cons in culvert construction.
Aluminum and galvanized steel are popular culvert building materials. Corrugated metal is strong, reasonably affordable, and can be adapted to resist corrosion through galvanization. Still, there are some downsides to metal culverts. First of all, even when galvanized, metal corrodes and rusts over time, especially when the water or surrounding soil has a high or low pH balance. Additionally, metal pipes can be heavy, inflexible, and difficult to cut if they need to be trimmed to fit the culvert trench. Weaker metals will also buckle or warp over time, especially when the road in question supports heavy traffic.
Plastic pipes are a cheaper, easier to install alternative to metal pipes. They are lightweight and flexible, allowing for easy transportation and installation. Additionally, plastic can be cut easily to fit any size of culvert trench. One downside to plastic’s lightweight nature is that erosion and the material’s natural buoyancy can cause it to become displaced over time. However, this displacement is easily avoided if the pipe is correctly bedded and the surrounding soil properly compacted during installation. Another benefit of plastic is that it does not corrode or rust like metal does and, so, can resist high and low pH balances.
Whether you decide on metal or plastic, consider buying corrugated pipes. These pipes’ wavy pattern increases both materials’ flexibility and resistance to warping or buckling under weight. In most cases, corrugated plastic pipes will be a good fit for the job. Another type of plastic pipe, PVC, also has its uses. PVC is smaller and less flexible than corrugated plastic pipes. It is ideal for low water flow or when the water needs to be carried over great distances, as is the case in irrigation. Since clogs in long drainage pipes are more difficult to clear than short ones, PVC is also ideal when long pipes are needed because its smooth walls make it easier to clean than corrugated pipes.
Concrete is far more expensive and difficult to transport, pour, and install (due to its weight) than either metal or plastic. However, it has its uses. Of the three materials, concrete is the most durable. Like plastic, it does not corrode. Additionally, concrete is resistant to warping and is able to bear heavier loads than the other two materials. Because of its durability and longevity, concrete pipe culverts are a good idea for those planning to install a concrete driveway or expect heavy traffic over the culvert. We don't see a lot of affordable full cement culverts here in Texas due primarily to the cost associated with them.
Whatever material you decide to use when building your pipe culvert, proper research is key. Whether you choose metal, plastic, or concrete, make sure that the material fits your needs by consulting a trained professional. Additionally, hire a quality team to make sure the culvert is properly installed. A well-built culvert will be more effective in managing water flow and save you money in the long run by reducing maintenance costs.
County websites in our area:
Collin County Culvert Forms & Permits http://www.collincountytx.gov/development_services/Pages/culvert_forms.aspx
Denton County Culvert Noms & Permits
Grayson County Culvert Forms & Permits
When determining who should handle your driveway culvert maintenance, the key is knowing who owns and is responsible for the land on which the culvert is located as is laid out in the town or county’s government policies. Many people avoid researching such policies because they don’t want to deal with all that legal jargon. However, this article equips you with the information you need to navigate government resources concerning culverts.
First of all, it will be helpful to familiarize yourself with some key terms concerning culverts and drainage policy:
Now that you are familiar with the key terminology surrounding culvert maintenance policies, it’s time to find the correct city or county department to contact. Usually, the information you’re looking for can be found by contacting the government department in charge of road regulations. A good place to start is your county’s government website. This can usually be found by using an online search engine to search the name of your county followed by 'official website'. In the search results, the website you’re looking for will usually be one of the top results. It should also plainly state the county’s name. For example, when I searched 'Randall County, TX official website' the county’s government website, www.randallcounty.com, was the first to pop up.
Once you’re on your county website’s main page, you will usually see a 'Departments' tab or something similar. Click this tab and scroll down until you find the department title related to roads, streets, or drainage governance. The exact name of this department will vary county to county, but it should be pretty easy to spot. On Randall County’s website, the proper department can be found under 'Road & Bridge'. Once you’re on the correct department page, you’ll usually see the names of government officials as well as their contact information. The fastest way to get your questions answered is to call them directly (it’s up to you whether you want to call the head of the department or other available contacts on the list). However, you may also send an email if you prefer.
When speaking with (or emailing) a representative from the department, there are a couple of questions you should ask right away. First of all, confirm that you’ve found the correct department by asking them if they are responsible for upholding regulations surrounding culverts. If they are not, ask them to transfer you to the correct department or, at the very least, get the name and contact information for the department you need to call. Once you have confirmed that you are talking to someone who can help you, tell them about your situation and why you want to know who is responsible for culverts in your area. Whomever you talk to will probably want to know your address as well as if you own the property in question, as regulations usually vary depending on who owns the property as well as the property’s location (township, county, subdivision, etc.). They may also ask if you know of any drainage easements on or near your property. Additionally, you should let them know if your culvert’s malfunction has damaged anything on your, your neighbors’, or government property. With this information, the government representative should be able to answer your questions or direct you to someone who can.
Even when you have your answer, it doesn’t hurt to do some independent research to confirm what you’ve been told. This involves using a search engine or public files (usually obtainable at a courthouse or other location of public records) involving land development/drainage codes, policies, and regulations. On the Randall County Road & Bridge Department webpage, this information is readily available. It can be downloaded as a PDF via the Road & Subdivision Policy link, found under 'Information' in the page’s left column. If your county’s website isn’t as straightforward, you can politely ask the department representative with whom you speak to direct you to where the policy can be found. There should be no reason they cannot do this. However, if for some reason they can’t help you, you should be able to find the information online by searching the name of your county, plus “culvert policy” or something similar. If possible, find the original policy scanned online as a PDF. Use the Table of Contents to find the section related to culverts and drainage, and read through it. This will help you feel more informed as you move forward in repairing or replacing your faulty culvert. Sometimes, the terminology used in the policy can be pretty convoluted or dull. However, stick with it, and use the key terms from this article to help you.
The policy will usually describe who is responsible for different types of properties and culverts, as well as the permits and other steps one should take in order to comply with regulations. In our Randall County example, if the culvert is located on private property, the owner of that property is responsible for the culvert’s upkeep. If a culvert is located in a subdivision, the subdivision developer is responsible for maintaining culverts and must do so in keeping with the city’s code. Meanwhile, culverts on public land are the responsibility of the government. According to Randall County Law and Ordinances, inspectors are required to check all culverts on public land once a year. Additionally, if someone notices a problem with culverts on public land, they should contact Law and Ordinances to resolve it.
These are some fairly common regulations. However, every county’s laws are slightly different, and loopholes abound, so do your best to get the information specific to where you live. Best of luck!
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