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Vertical (wick) Drains


A soil drainage method for accelerating settlement through vertical drainage

Prefabricated plastic vertical drain                                        Vertical drain installation with horizontal strip drain

Commonly known PVD's or PV drains or wick drains

Historically the design of structures on soft compressible soils (clays) has created problems for civil engineers. Construction without some sort of soil treatment is usually impractical due to unpredictable long-term settlement. Although surcharging increases water pore pressure, settlement can take considerable time, often years, as the water lacks an easy path to leave the soil.

Consolidation of soft cohesive soils using prefabricated vertical drains (also called wick drains or band drains) can reduce settlement times from years to months. Most settlement can occur during construction, thus keeping post-construction settlement to a minimum.

Consolidation of a compressible soil occurs as pore water is squeezed from the soil matrix. The time for consolidation depends upon the square of the distance the water must travel to exit the soil. The installation of prefabricated vertical drains provides shortened drainage paths for the water to exit the soil.

Larger prefabricated drains called strip drains are used for horizontal water removal at the surface replacing the previously used sand blanket. The strip drains are less expensive, install more easily and quickly, and provide better drainage.

For additional information installing vertical drain, other GTA contracting services, or for assistance with your next ground improvement project fax us at 770 719-1907 or email us at


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