When it comes to drainage systems, catch basins play a crucial role in managing stormwater runoff. But what exactly are they, and how does it work?

In this article, we’ll explore the purpose of catch basins and their functionality in keeping our communities safe from flooding and other water-related issues. We’ll cover everything you need to know.

What is a catch basin?

A catch basin (or a curb inlet or storm drain) is a structure that’s designed to collect excess water from rain, snowmelt, and other sources. It’s typically located along the roadside or in parking lots and directs rain and wastewater into an underground drainage system.

The structure consists of a grate or curb opening on top, a sump (a cavity below the grate), and a collection pipe that connects to the underground drainage system.

The difference between a catch basin and a French drain

While both catch basins and French drains are designed to manage excess water, there are some key differences between the two.

A catch basin collects surface water through an opening at ground level and redirects it into a drainage system, while a French drain is installed underground to collect subsurface water and redirect it away from a specific area.

Catch basins also have a sump to collect debris, sediment, and other waste, while French drains do not. Additionally, catch basins are typically larger and more visible than French drains.

Understanding the differences between these two drainage systems can help you determine which one is best for your specific needs.

How do catch basins work?

In terms of methodology, when rain falls onto paved surfaces, it creates a runoff that carries dirt, debris, and other pollutants into the catch basin. As water enters through the grate or curb opening, solids settle at the bottom of the sump while the water flows through the collection pipe and into the underground system.

Catch basins also have a trap to prevent larger objects from entering the drainage system and causing blockages. The trap is designed to be easily accessible for maintenance and cleaning purposes.

Why are catch basins important?

Catch basins play a vital role in preventing flooding by controlling stormwater runoff. They help keep our streets and parking lots from becoming waterlogged by efficiently draining excess water.

Moreover, they also serve as a form of pollution control by capturing debris and sediment before it enters natural bodies of water. This helps protect the environment and maintain a clean and healthy community.

Some common signs that a catch basin may be necessary include standing water, erosion or sinkholes near the structure, and debris buildup around the grate opening.

The pros and cons of catch basins

Using these systems comes with its own set of pros and cons, which we’ve outlined below.


• Efficiently manages stormwater runoff to prevent floods

• Helps control pollution by capturing debris and sediment

• Easy maintenance and cleaning process

• Can be customized with additional features, such as grates to catch leaves and other larger debris

• Cost-effective way of managing excess water


• May require frequent maintenance if located in an area with heavy debris or sediment buildup

• Can become a safety hazard if not properly maintained and cleaned, as standing water can attract mosquitoes and other pests

• Initial installation costs may be high, depending on the location and size of the catch basin

• Limited effectiveness in handling large amounts of water during severe storms or floods

Types of catch basins

There are several types of catch basins commonly used in drainage systems, each with its own unique design and purpose.

• Grated: These are the most common type, with a grate on top to prevent larger objects from entering the drainage system. They also have a smaller secondary opening for excess water to flow through

• Hooded: These models have a raised hood to prevent debris from entering a drainage system, making them ideal for areas with high levels of sediment or gravel

• Drop inlet: As the name suggests, these types are designed with a drop inlet that directs water into the sump below

• Combination: These basins combine both grated and hooded designs, making them versatile for different types of environments

Choosing the right type of catch basin depends on several factors, such as location, level of precipitation, and potential debris.

Catch basin maintenance

Regular maintenance is crucial for the efficient functioning of catch basins. Here are some important things to keep in mind to ensure proper maintenance:

• Inspect the system at least twice a year, preferably before and after heavy rainfall periods

• Remove any debris or sediment that has built up in the sump or trap using appropriate tools

• Check for any cracks or damage in the structure and repair them immediately to prevent further issues

• Clear out any blockages in the collection pipe using a high-pressure hose

• Consider installing an insert to capture finer pollutants, such as oil or grease

By regularly maintaining catch basins, you can prevent clogging and prolong their lifespan. This not only helps protect your community from flooding and pollution but also saves you money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs.

Trust J. Blanton with your plumbing and drain needs

Catch basins are essential components of drainage systems that help prevent flooding and manage stormwater runoff. By understanding their purpose and functionality, we can appreciate the important role they play in keeping our communities safe and in good health.

If you have any further questions or concerns about catch basins, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at J. Blanton. We’re always happy to help and have been providing homeowners in Chicago and surrounding areas with plumbing services for over 30 years.

Our expert plumbers possess the right knowledge, problem solving skills, and tools on hand to properly service the plumbing system in your house, whether it’s your sewage system that needs work, you’re noticing a persistent flood in your front yard, or your basement pipes have burst.

If you’re in need of a professional plumber, whether for an emergency repair at any hour or an inspection, we’re only one telephone call or website form fill away. We promise an excellent customer service experience. Contact us today!