Even the best designed catch basins need regular maintenance to work properly. Without maintenance, basins quickly fill up with some kind of debris or dirt. Clogged or full catch basins overflow when storm water enters and there’s no space or way to reduce the outflow pipe. If the storm water drainage system makes any contact with the sewage systems, there’s a risk of exposure that can lead to health issues. Routine maintenance also reveals minor issues like cracking and loose grates that grow into bigger problems later if ignored.
Public or Private Responsibility?
Not all catch basins are installed on public property. Even some of those installed in public areas are technically the responsibility of a private property owner who is the primary source of the water supplied to the basin. Cities and municipalities across the country also set up adoption programs to encourage home and business owners to maintain their nearby storm drains and basins. Before setting up a maintenance program, determine who’s going to carry out which chores. Private owners can handle cleaning surface grates and covers on their own, but they’ll need to bring in a hired or public sanitation technician for deeper cleaning in the basin.
Cleaning and Clearing Grates and Surface Drains
Surface cleaning of all grates and drains is the most common form of maintenance needed by a catch basin. Regular cleaning at the surface may reduce the frequency of silt removal and sump cleaning by keeping more debris out of the basin. This is the only task that most home and business owners can safely handle on their own. Since it may need weekly cleaning in the fall, after public events, or during other periods of high debris, this is a good job to outsource to local volunteers whenever possible.
Removing Floating and Sunken Debris
Skimming off any floating lightweight trash, oil, fat, and scum from the water in the basin ensures it doesn’t flow down the drainage pipe. While the occasional wash of this floating layer down the pipe won’t cause immediate issues, the sludge does build up when influxes of water regularly splash it around. The frequency of skimming varies greatly depending on local levels of floating debris. Most catch basins need this kind of maintenance on anywhere from a monthly to annual schedule.
Checking Silt and Sludge Levels
Silt and sludge flow into the catch basin from bare soil, eroding slopes, and muddy patches on nearby lawns. A small amount of mud flushing into a properly sized catch basin isn’t likely to cause problems. But if erosion causes dirt to enter the basin on a regular basis, the silt eventually builds up until it reduces the capacity. The time frame for sludge removal can vary widely between basins. Some catch basins need cleaning every few months, while others may go years between deep cleanings. Other sources of heavy and sunken debris will shorten the time between sludge removal chores.
Clearing the Inlet and Outlet Pipes
The inlet and outlet pipes in a catch basin are both prone to clogging over time when floating trash manages to catch in one or the other. Inlet pipes are often angled to prevent this, but scum can still build up and reduce the flow. The pipes running in and out of a catch basin need inspection on a monthly to semi-annual basis to ensure they’re still working. If there’s any sign of restriction or clogs, cleaning must happen immediately.
Testing for Leaks
Finally, any catch basins suspected of leaking should be drained and inspected. Standing water in the soil around the basin, unusually fast drainage, and complete emptying between storms are all signs of trouble. You have a few options for fixing minimally cracked concrete basins, but major cracks and collapses require complete replacement. Adding a flexible liner is the best way to restore the water holding capacity of a damaged catch basin without a lot of work.
With these tips, you’re ready to keep your catch basins working like new for years to come. Of course, taking extra care during construction leads to reduced maintenance requirements further down the road. Don’t let mistakes made during installation keep you from sticking to a reasonable maintenance schedule for your storm drainage system. Build it right from the start with the help of BTL Liners.