The unsung hero of your parking lot — the catch basin


It sits in anonymity.

Barely noticed, we drive and walk over top of the thing without realizing the important role it plays in the life of the parking lot. Barely noticed that is, until something goes wrong. Then… well… then we pay the piper. What could have been a minor problem has now become a serious threat to the life of your parking lot.

It’s the catch basin. No scary clowns down there. No floating balloons either.

Remember, when it comes to parking lots, water is the enemy and the catch basin is a very good friend. And like most good friends, we should care for them – make sure they are in good shape and working properly.

If left to pool, standing water erodes and breaks down asphalt. Maintaining your catch basins is a proactive approach that will save you both time and money. To promote proper drainage, catch basins should be positioned at the lowest points of your parking lot.

If you see standing water in your parking lot, there may be problems. You should have the components of the catch basins inspected. In addition, depressions in the asphalt around a catch basin could indicate underlying problems with the lot. 

Now, before you rush out to your parking lot and try to perform a DIY inspection of a catch basin, remember, the top assembly or steel grate weighs 200 lb or 91 kg, and we don’t recommend you attempt such a lift – no, leave that to the professionals.

Once the top assembly is open, the shining light inside the catch basin could reveal damage to the top of the catch basin or broken grade rings (risers) that are allowing water to penetrate beneath the surrounding asphalt. Grade rings or risers are an important component of a catch basin, as they can be added or removed to adjust the level of the steel assembly (remember, it should be below the level of the asphalt to permit proper drainage).

There could also be damage in the lower portion of the catch basin where the pipe exits. The area around the pipe is referred to as the annulus and can sometimes crack and crumble allowing the water to go where it shouldn’t. If a contractor only fixes the top of the catch basin assembly and problems below are not addressed, you will have wasted your money and the problem will likely return in very short order.

It’s time we release the catch basin from its “barely notice” status and start paying attention to your parking lot’s best friend.

Regular inspection, cleaning and maintenance by a knowledgeable contractor can keep catch basins in good working condition. The cost of regular maintenance is far less expense than lot replacement, damaged vehicles or worse pedestrian injury.