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Understanding Catch Basins

Catch Basin

Catch basins represent one of the most common methods of dealing with water runoff on parking lots and other paved areas of commercial properties. Yet despite their widespread use, many people fail to understand how catch basins work — let along the maintenance required to keep them working well as time goes on.

This lack of understanding can lead to serious problems, both for your catch basin and for the nearby concrete or asphalt. Commercial property owners are, therefore, encouraged to improve their knowledge of these simple — yet vital — systems. This article will provide a useful introduction to the world of catch basins.

Catch Basins

As noted above, catch basins represent one of the most important parts of a drainage system. Contractors embed these box-like structures either in or immediately adjacent to a parking lot. The pavement must be graded slightly toward the catch basin to facilitate the drainage of surface water. This ensures that any excess water will flow to the basin, rather than gathering on the pavement.

The top of a catch basin consists of a metal grate. The slats of this grate sit far enough apart to allow both water and physical debris to enter. The debris settles at the bottom of the catch basin. The water, meanwhile, gradually flows out of the catch basin through an outlet pipe. This pipe connects the catch basin to the nearest municipal sewer line.

Basic Maintenance

The design of a catch basin accounts for the fact that debris will accumulate over time. The bottom of the basin features a special trough that allows solid matter to collect without blocking the outlet pipe. This means that, even when leaves and other forms of detritus have partially filled the catch basin, water will still be able to find its way to the outlet pipe.

A catch basin can only collect so much physical debris before problems ensue. Eventually, this debris will cause a restriction, preventing the water from exiting the basin. Backups will soon ensue, with the water spilling out of the catch basin onto your parking lot and the surrounding landscape.

Fortunately, you can prevent this problem through periodic maintenance. You or one of your employees must visually inspect the catch basins for signs of excessive debris, which should then be removed. Doing this once or twice a year should suffice. Fall and spring are the best times to inspect catch basins since fallen leaves and de-icing sand represent two of the most common causes of clogs.

Catch Basin Repair

Clogs may be the most common catch basin problem, but they're not the only one. Virtually every catch basin will experience sinking as time goes on. In other words, the basin will settle lower and lower beneath the level of your pavement. This issue stems from deterioration of the mortar used to hold the catch basin in place.

Water is generally at the root of such deterioration. No matter how clean you keep your catch basin, water will naturally find its way into the cracks between the metal basin and the surrounding pavement. As this water freezes, it will expand, creating larger amounts of structural stress. This stress will often cause the mortar to pop out of place.

This process may also cause cracks to begin forming in the pavement around the catch basin. The sooner you catch this problem, the easier it will be to solve. Provided the problem is not yet too severe, you can often address this by sealing any gaps around the edges of the catch basin. More serious sinking, however, may require a new pavement collar to be installed around the basin.

For more information on how to keep your parking lot's catch basins in tip-top shape, please don't hesitate to contact our paving pros at Blackjack Asphalt and Concrete.

Black Jack Asphalt and Concrete
Serving Saginaw, MI

Bay City/Saginaw: 989-791-4444
Birch Run/Frankenmuth: 989-776-1050
Flint: 810-471-3550
Fax: 989-770-2121

Business Hours: 
Open Seven Days a Week
Monday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.
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