Highlighting the Latest Drainage Trends

Pipework engineer

Looking at what’s on the horizon, Steve Carver, Key Account Manager at Wolseley Pipe, has highlighted some of his observations of the drainage industry in 2020 that are continuing throughout 2021.

COVID-19 has brought significant changes to almost all industries and the drainage sector is no exception. Contractors have now got to prioritise speed and reduce the onsite time for their employees while upholding the highest building standards. This may seem like an impossible task, but with more efficient systems becoming commonplace on sites across the UK, contractors need to be aware of the options available to them to stay ahead of the competition.


While not a new approach, the use of prefabrication has seen a surge in popularity and with multiple benefits to contractors, it’s easy to see why. With the pandemic at the forefront of everyone’s minds, contractors now have to consider how they can reduce the number of employees required for the job while also reducing the overall time of the installation. Prefabricated drainage systems meet this new demand, offering a quick installation solution to contractors that can plan in advance.

What was once a two-person job - requiring contractors to install and weld a drainage system solution while onsite - is now only a one-person job where the installer only has to fit each end of the prefabricated drainage system. Not only does this reduce the number of people required for the job, but it takes the overall installation time down from what could have been a two-hour job, to just a quick 20 minutes – a blessing for contractors concerned about keeping their employees safely distanced.

This seems like a no-brainer, so what’s the downside? Well, prefabricated systems come in at a higher cost, which at first glance usually puts the typical installer off. However, when considering the labour costs involved in constructing a site’s drainage system and the potential cost it could cause holding up a project’s overall build-time, this higher initial investment can quite often prove to be better value for money in the long term.

On top of the initial cost is the build time. Contractors working in the drainage market know that if they contact their local merchant on a Tuesday afternoon, they can usually expect to have all the pipe parts needed for the job by Thursday — sometimes even the very same day. In contrast, prefabricated systems take time to build and can sometimes take close to a month depending on the size of the system. Therefore, to capitalise on prefab’s significant benefits, contractors must begin planning drainage systems further in advance to save crucial time, effort and money.

Acoustic Drainage

We are all creatures of habit - if there’s a solution that works, why fix something that isn’t broken? Drainage contractors, like us all, are susceptible to this; frequently installing the drainage systems they are familiar rather than considering the different solutions currently available in the market.

Throughout 2020, Wolseley Pipe saw an increase in demand for silent acoustic drainage piping which offers great benefit to the end-user that contractors should be aware of, if not already.

It’s quite common that residents in highly dense buildings like offices, apartments or even hotels have been subjected to hearing neighbouring drainage systems offloading waste through their adjacent wall, a problem which can greatly affect the occupant’s-experience - especially for hospitality builds. With multiple acoustic drainage solutions available, savvy contractors need to be aware of the leading solution that’s currently trending in the marketplace, DB12.

DB12 is a triple-layered pipe system specially developed with layers of copolymer polypropylene. For contractors, this means a fast, efficient and cost-effective solution to silent draining systems. Its integrated ring seal connections mean installers are also able to incorporate this piping into pre-existing systems with ease. While this technology isn’t new to the marketplace, the increase in commercial builds, especially in cities, has seen this piping grow in popularity significantly over the last year and we expect to see this trend continue.

With multiple benefits over conventional drainage systems, contractors should clue themselves up on the silent acoustic drainage systems currently available to stay ahead of the competition and expand their service offerings to their customers.

Siphonic Drainage

New drainage stack

Alongside the growing market demand for quieter drainage systems is a continued focus on providing more efficient solutions. Siphonic drainage is quickly growing in popularity, providing almost a win-win situation for contractors looking for a solution to efficient roof-water drainage on various projects.

Siphonic draining systems create a vortex within the piping, working to actively suck the water off roofing, unlike its gravity-reliant counterpart. As a result, siphonic systems can clear a roof of water in just a matter of seconds, with no internal piping wasted transporting air.

Idle water on roofs can cause a variety of costly and inconvenient issues for building service engineers, facilities managers and a building’s end users, including increased leaks, sagging roofs and inevitable issues related to moss or algae. Siphoning the water mitigates these problems, with the added benefit of being a self-cleaning system due to the high-velocity flow, decreasing the maintenance requirements post-installation. With the quality of work and ensuring the longevity of a build’s life at the front of most contractors’ minds, it’s hard to ignore the benefits this system can provide.

In fact, by reducing the reliance on gravity, siphonic drainage systems can be installed horizontally without the need to integrate a slight gradient, giving the installer much more flexibility in system design. These systems use far less piping than traditional gravity solutions, not only saving build space which can be dedicated towards other essential systems such as ventilation but also saving the contractor up to 20-45% in cost.

Drainage can quite often become an afterthought on a build but with successful planning and integration of the rising trends in the marketplace, smart drainage systems can save contractors time, money and effort.

Indoor air quality

Indoor air quality has been a hot topic across the entire HVAC industry over the last 12 months for obvious reasons. The importance of an effective drainage system on air quality is also in question as suppliers begin to request that contractors carefully consider how they manage air pressure within the system. Air pressure build up can result in bacteria and unpleasant odours entering the building and while this isn’t usually noticeable in a standard house, it can become a major concern in buildings with more complex drainage systems such as high-rise apartments.

This can be combatted through a variety of solutions. For buildings with enough space to do so, secondary ventilation is the best option. By installing a dry pipe parallel to the main stack, positive air pressure is able to escape. For buildings where space is minimal, stack-aerators can replace the standard branch fittings. Stack-aerators connect the horizontal pipework branches with the vertical main stack and can help to slow the flow of water through the soil and waste system, working to better control the mix of water and air pressure.

Finally, there is active drainage ventilation which controls the air pressure within the system by reducing incoming positive or negative pressure. Used with air admittance valves, this solution is highly effective and can reduce the likelihood of trap seals depleting.

Steve Carver is Key Account Manager at Wolseley Pipe

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