A Guide to DIY Culvert Installation

September 5, 2019 11:55 pm Published by

In rural areas, small creeks streams can crisscross the land, making it difficult or impossible for vehicles to safely cross from one side to another. Fortunately, a culvert can provide a practical solution to this problem, with its durable corrugated material mimicking the stream bottom and a high strength-to-weight ratio to help support the crossing vehicles. Follow along with this guide from our concrete contractors in Santa Rosa, CA for a few DIY tips to help you get your culvert installation underway.

Determining the culvert’s cross section

To find the ideal cross section for your culvert, you will need to know the volume of the stream flow. During the early fall season, look for the highest water mark along the two banks by spotting where vegetation meets bare rock. Place one stake on each of the banks at this mark and tie a string in between them to denote the high water stream width (HWSW).

To find the low point of the stream, locate the flattest area of the streambed. Once you’ve found it, place your two stakes near the border in the area, and record the low water stream width (LWSW). Lastly, record the distance between the high water stakes you placed earlier and the stream bottom, which serves as the depth of the stream at high water.

When you have these numbers, you can then figure out the cross section of the culvert by adding the HWSW and the LWSW and dividing the total by two, then multiplying this number by the recorded depth of the stream. Once you have determined this number, you can work out the cross section needed for the culvert, which should be at least 1.25 times that of the stream.

Excavating the area

Unless you are working with a small area, you will need an excavator or backhoe, as well as a soil compactor. Following the existing gradient of the stream bed and sticking precisely to the previously recorded measurements, excavate the culvert location area carefully. If the culvert is too high, water can get underneath the tube, eventually causing it to wash out. Meanwhile, if it’s too deep, it can get clogged with debris. After the culvert has been placed in the bed, the area around it will need to be filled with compacted dirt.

To ensure that your DIY culvert installation is a success, it is recommended that you finish off the project with the armoring process. When the water flow increases in the spring, the threat of soil erosion is high, and armoring your culvert with concrete protection will help to keep the fill material in place.

With over 15 years of concrete pouring experience, the concrete contractors in Santa Rosa, CA at Sikes Asphalt Group, Inc. are the ones to call to finish off your culvert job right. To reinforce your culvert and ensure that it will last for years to come, be sure to give us a call to schedule your consultation. We look forward to assisting you soon!

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