Catch Basins: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Catch Basins: What Are They and How Do They Work?

A catch basin is essentially a drainage solution for landscaping systems. This item typically contains a grate with a pipe used to drain excess water through and away from the area. Catch basins are generally connected to a plumbing system that directs the water and extra debris to a sewage facility, reservoir, or sump.

You might find catch basins in a residential area or a commercial business because they are great drainage solutions that protect the property from flooding.

Let’s examine catch basins to identify what they are and how they work in your area. Bear in mind that a catch basin can also be called:

  • Storm drain
  • Storm sewer
  • Surface water drain
  • Stormwater drain

How Are Catch Basins Used?

Catch basins utilize a grate to collect water and debris like sticks, leaves, and other small items from the street and surrounding area. When a community experiences flooding, catch basins can work wonders for removing excess water and preventing flood damage to homes and businesses nearby.

When the catch basin reaches a certain water level, the water travels down the inlet/outlet pipe to a new location.

Catch basins are incredibly essential in removing excessive water and melted snow and transporting it to nearby natural resources. However, it’s essential to avoid placing materials in the catch basin that don’t belong, such as:

  • Chemicals
  • Yard clippings
  • Fertilizers
  • Other objects

Preventing these materials from reaching the catch basin can protect the natural drinking water in your area.

Advantages and Disadvantages

As with any solution to an environmental issue, there are advantages and disadvantages. Let’s discuss some pros and cons to the catch basin.


There are many advantages to installing a catch basin in your residential or commercial property. Some include:

  • Improved landscaping: The design of catch basins is discrete and can blend in with the rest of your landscape. They also do an excellent job of removing standing water from your garden. Even if you live in a dry area like Arizona, one day of heavy rain can negatively affect your landscaping if you don’t have a proper catch basin. Soggy soil can lead to an increase in insects, mildew, and odors.
  • Resale value: Solving home issues like flooding and landscape damage can make your property much more appealing. Most homebuyers and business owners prefer properties that don’t require repairs. When you install a catch basin, potential buyers feel more confident in their purchase and increase their price.
  • Prevents flooding: One of the catch basin’s most critical and beneficial uses is the powerful ability to remove excess water and debris from your home and business. Flood damage can be detrimental to your property, so finding the correct drainage solution is in your best interest.


While the advantages of installing a catch basin are significant, it’s important to also identify the downsides to ensure you make the right choice for your home or business. Some disadvantages include:

  • May attract insects: Insects and bacteria all enjoy one thing: warm, moist places. Standing water makes a great home for bugs, and if the water in your catch basin is taking too long to dry (a problem that predominantly occurs in the hot seasons), you might find insects in your space. Catch basins make a great breeding ground for unwanted pests and specific bacteria.
  • Loose debris: Catch basins effectively remove excess water during heavy rainstorms. But if the catch basin doesn’t have enough time to transport the water to a new location, the outlet pipe can become clogged and start to pour back out. However, you might consider utilizing a sand trap catch basin to prevent this issue.
  • Can cause sinkholes: If the pipe flow underneath the catch basin collapses or becomes damaged, it can create a sinkhole in your area. While this is a serious situation, it is fixable. Be sure to contact a professional who can help repair the basin and reinforce the surrounding area with material to provide a more substantial structure.

Types of Catch Basins

While it may seem like there’s only one type of catch basin, it’s essential to review the two most common types of catch basin for your home or business.

Type 1

Type 1 catch basins are typically rectangular or circular, depending on the material’s quality, and contain a pipe of about five feet.

Due to the low amount of water this catch basin can hold, a type 1 basin might be better suited for residential properties.

Type 2

A type 2 catch basin is created for larger pipes but holds a maximum depth of 15 feet and, therefore, might be best for commercial properties.

Keep in mind that there could be more local codes your team will need to know when installing a type 2 catch basin.

Catch Basin vs. French Drain

Many people confuse catch basins with French drains. However, both have distinctive properties that make them different from each other.

A French drain refers to a drainage solution where water can enter from the ground or flow from above, and the moisture will escape downhill through the rock, pipe, and coast. French drains are great for controlling runoff.

In contrast, a catch basin is simply an underground box that helps reduce flooding damage by directing the water through a drainage pipe underground.

How To Install Catch Basins

When installing a catch basin on a property, it’s essential to plan the project adequately by analyzing the area, consulting engineers, and inspecting the drainage system.

Catch basins are standard on public streets, but when installed on a residential property, the contractor must place them at the property’s lowest point.

Oftentimes, if a catch basin is installed in the wrong place, the drain can become clogged and render the system ineffective.

Remember to keep your team aware of all changes throughout the project to ensure a successful installation process that will drain the area effectively.

Maintenance Tips

Try to clean your catch basin routinely for continued excess water/debris removal. If the catch basin isn’t cleaned over time, it can produce foul odors and pollutants that may drive guests and customers away.

To clean the catch basin, lift the grate and remove the water and debris using a shovel and bucket. Try to dump the excess water into an appropriate sewage system like a sink or toilet.

So, catch basins: what are they, and how do they work? Hopefully, this guide has informed you about the proper benefits and uses of catch basins and how they can help keep your property safe and dry.

Catch Basins: What Are They and How Do They Work?