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In 2012, NDS rolled out an improved channel for the 5 inch Pro Series. The 5 inch Pro Series is the workhorse of the Pro Series line, which ranges from 3” – 12” wide. The 5 inch Pro Series is sold in hardware stores around the country, though only in kit form. If you want to buy special grates or additional components, you’ll need to find an online store.

Rebar Connection

The first striking difference between the new and old design is the rebar attachment feature. (See below.) In the original rebar attachment design, a hole in the channel’s supporting foot allowed the installer to thread a piece of construction wire to connect rebar. The new rebar attachment design features a plastic clip that affixes to a No. 4 rebar (1/2”) without a tie wire.

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New channel design (left) vs. Old design (right)

Enhance Ribbing

The new 5 inch Pro Series model also sports a new rib design. The ribbing was originally designed into the system to define the location where the channel could be cut during final channel length adjustment. Compared above, one can see how one of the ribs in each pair has been extended. The extended rib has three purposes.

  1. It acts as a guide to assist in manual trimming of the channel,
  2. It gives more rigidity to the channel body, and
  3. It is part of a new, snap-fit tongue-and-groove channel connection design.

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There is a fourth purpose of the rib re-design, shown above. Three of the extended ribs have pedestal extensions, which are great for leveling the channel during installation on a tamped gravel surface. In the previous 5 inch Pro-Series design, the bottom outlet prevented the channel from setting level on a flat surface. The new design eliminates this issue to improve the overall installation experience.

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Improved Channel Connection

Probably the best outcome of the 5 inch Pro Series redesign is the new channel connection snap fit. Above, one can see both designs are still a tongue and groove fitting. The big difference is in the small “snap housing” at the top of the new design (left channel). Upon completion of the tongue and groove connection, a tab on the male end of the channel makes a “snap fit” with this housing and secures the assembly.

With the previous design, PVC glue was used to secure the channel connection. Though, PVC glue would make the joint between the two channels water tight, it’ application was sometimes an afterthought and made for a more complicated installation.

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 Different Plastic Composition

You may have noticed a slight color difference between the two channels in comparisons above. That’s because NDS altered the plastic composition of the channels. The early version was made of a Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) composition while the new channel is made from Poly Ester (PE). The grates used in the system have not changed. They are still as reliable as they were in the past.

There are property differences between the two plastics. However, these differences may be more significant to the manufacturer than the customer. Two helpful observations I’ve made between the two plastics:

  1. You can’t use PVC Glue to connect your new 5 inch Pro Series channels. It doesn’t work. You’ll have to find another product other than “good ol’” PVC glue. I initially learned of the new channel design from an irate customer complaining that he couldn’t glue these new channels together. At that point, NDS still had an old installation data sheet circulating. Oops!!
  2. If you freeze and drop PVC components, they will crack. I learned this after receiving a January shipment of NDS PVC catch basins. The product arrived in the box shattered due to poor handling by the trucking company. If it was July, they probably wouldn’t have been broken.

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Channel Weight

The final difference between the two 5 inch Pro Series designs is the channel weight. The new channel weighs 15 percent less than the previous channel. This may be due to the actual density of the plastic itself. Or, it could be related to some reduced channel dimensions. My gut feeling is that the weight change is an inherent property of the plastic rather than reducing the amount of plastic in the design. In fact, with the added features of the new design, it seems that NDS has “beefed up” on the volume of this channel. Again, this is my gut feeling and not based on any technical evidence.

NDS’s design change to the 5 inch Pro-Series hasn’t changed the width or length, but new design features make installation easier. Some installation problems may crop up if one is trying to make a construction blending the two designs.

I will miss the old design because we spent so many years together. However, I look forward to working with this new channel. Good job NDS, Inc.!!!

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Mini Channel, the 3” plastic channel drain that has long been one of NDS’ most popular systems, now offers slotted plastic grates with a smoother, more decorative appeal.

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New mold die (top) next to old plastic grate (bottom)

NDS overhauled the design of slotted Mini Channel plastic grates following the release of decorative plastic grating for the 3” channel drain in 2013.

The new design eliminates hard edges and flashing made when using the old injection mold die. The new die gives the grates a smoother look and the Mini Channel system a cleaner appearance.

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Supporting ribs on new slotted grate (top) vs. old grate design (bottom)

The new Mini Channel grate pattern isn’t just for appearance’s sake, either. The new mold lengthens the plastic grate’s supporting ribs, which run perpendicular to the trench’s length (think hamburger, not hot dog). Supporting ribs increase a grate’s longevity under traffic and serve to make the plastic channel grate sturdier. The better a grate’s support structure, the less vehicle stress will affect it.

While the updated look on the Mini Channel won’t increase the channel drain’s overall load bearing capacity, it does make the grate more rigid.

It is important to point out that this improvement didn’t increase the cost of the Mini channel grating.  For an estimate on a Mini Channel system for your patio application, request pricing from one of the specialists at Trench Drain Systems today.

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NDS Photos 007 - pr


When I started my career with trench drain, I didn’t know the benefits of using plastic trench drains on drainage projects.  Since then, I’ve seen enough projects to tell the difference between good and bad trench drain systems.  From what I learned, all trench drain is good as long as you have the proper product for the application.

This is how you choose a plastic trench drain:

1.  Is the drain located in an area with extreme freeze/thaw?

NDS Photos 007 - prPlastic is more susceptible to freeze-thaw than other materials (such as metal or polymer concrete) used for trench drains.  Plastic trench drains can separate from the concrete that holds them in place during extreme temperature changes.  Also, PVC becomes brittle in the extreme cold and could crack under impact at those times.  So, be aware of environment factors before you choose your trench drain material.

2.  Is the drain being installed in a paver surface or in a pour concrete floor?

Mini Channel, Zurn Z880, plastic channel drain, channel drain for paver patio,Trench drains used in paver patio applications usually are straight walled  so to accommodate the close proximity of a paving stone.  Plastic drains that have built-in pedestals or an exaggerated grating seat impart greater strength to the drain and are best suited for concrete installations.

3.  Are the aesthetics important? 

decorative stone, stone grating, decorative trench drain grates, decorative residential drains, residential trench drains, residential catch basins,  decorative catch basin gratesNarrow plastic drains, also called strip drains, come in 1-2” widths and don’t offer decorative grating options. Larger plastic systems (3” wide and larger) often feature decorative grating options in plastic, cast iron or stone.  Some systems even use stainless steel grates.  Or, how do you feel about the plastic channel edge being exposed at the drain-floor interface?  There are systems which minimize or eliminate unsightly channel details.

4.  What are the load requirements for the drain?

Not all residential-grade plastic trench drains are built with vehicle traffic in mind.  But some applications, such as driveways, require load bearing drains.  Small plastic channel drains are designed to incorporate the strength of the surrounding to achieve higher load standards.  Often, these systems offer cast iron grates and reinforcing frames to assist in transferring the load away from the plastic channel.  This allows the plastic channel to achieve industrial-grade load ratings.

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5.  Is the drain being installed by you or a  contractor?

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Superior trench drain design promotes easy installation.  Engineers thought through the installation process to design easy-to-install trench drains.  Plastic trench drains are lightweight and easier to handle.  Still, some of the larger plastic systems can be unwieldy in inexperienced hands, especially when being installed in concrete.

This list of considerations is by no means exhaustive. Maybe you have some other ideas. If so, let me know by leaving a comment below.  Need a price quote?  Feel free to speak to one of the professional sales staff at Trench Drain Systems by calling 610-638-1221.

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