In order to keep a parking lot smooth and free of cracks and potholes, proper drainage is extremely important. Unfortunately, drainage basins often fail, due to time, exposure, water damage, or some combination of factors. In order to understand why drainage basins fail, it is important to comprehend drainage basin basics, including what they are exactly, the different types, determining if a basin has failed, why failure occurs, and how to fix it.

What are Drainage Basins?

Drainage basins allow water to be transported away from a parking lot, road, or walkway, keeping the area dry and free from puddles or damage.

Types of Drainage Basins

Standard Catch Basins: created with cement to keep unwanted openings in the basin away.

Concrete-Encased Drainage Basin: reinforced with concrete to be more durable.

Trench Drainage Basins: ideal for dumpster areas, loading docks, or entrance/exit spots of parking lots.

French Drains: protect sub-base layer of parking lot, diverting water and preserving structural integrity.

When is a Basin Considered “Failed”?

Typically, one would wait 72 hours after rain has stopped to see if an overwhelmed basin has returned to a normal state. If not, the drainage basin has “failed.”

If the basin or grate is pushing up higher than the surrounding asphalt, it’s time for a repair. The opposite can also happen; when the frame and grate start sinking, the issue should be repaired quickly to avoid a sinkhole. A small trickle of water into drain gutters, sinkholes, and cracks in asphalt are signs that a drainage basin may need help.

How to Check for Failed Basins

Inspect the pavement around the basin.

Are the basins in a lower or higher area than the rest of the lot? If the basin looks to be higher than the rest of the lot, something has gone wrong underneath.

How many basins are in your lot?

Of course, this varies depending on the size of the lot. Regardless of number, basins should be placed throughout low-lying areas.

Have you cleaned your basins?

Clearing out debris will help to keep the area clean, avoiding blockages that lessen the amount of water that could flow through the basin.

Bring out the professionals.

Drainage basins should be inspected regularly to identify signs of damage before it’s too late. Professionals can service basins if an adjustment needs to be made or concrete rings need replacement.

What is surrounding your basins?

If the basins are surrounded by asphalt, they aren’t as strong as they could be. If this is the case, water deterioration could happen quicker. However, if your drainage grates are surrounded by concrete, they will last longer. The lifespan of concrete is about 5 times longer than asphalt.

Why Do Drainage Basins Fail?


Drainage basins can fail for a few reasons. Heavy amounts of rainwater can bring debris like leaves, twigs, dirt, and litter down into the basin. This halts proper drainage, causing a backflow of water.


In winter climates, freeze-thaw cycles are common. As water becomes trapped inside the basin, repeatedly transforming from liquid to frozen, the rings inside will become damaged. When pipes are blocked, water will overflow onto the asphalt or beneath the pavement around the basin. This erodes the foundation, causing cracks and potholes – in extreme cases, the basin may even cave in. The ice can also cause damage to the mortar around the basin, leading to a sinkhole if enough time and damage compounds.

Winter is dangerous for drainage basins for another reason: de-icing chemicals and salt. These chip away at the top of the basin. It’s imperative to get lot basins inspected every spring to maintain that your catch basins are functioning at their best, preventing future failure.

How to Avoid Drainage Basin Issues

It’s important to regularly check for damaged pavement around the exterior of the drainage system. Keep track of cracks, signs of sinking, or missing chunks of asphalt. Don’t forget to check for damage to the grates as well. If you suspect sinking, be sure to investigate it properly to avoid a giant (and expensive) mess. Seal any cracks and refresh the joint sealing. Finally, clean out debris and dirt if possible, preventing a clogged system.

Proper installation of the drainage system is imperative to avoiding issues in the future. Professionals should choose the right location based on the lot and the type of ground underneath.

How to Fix a Failed Drainage Basin

Concrete! On its own, concrete is strong. When combined with steel reinforcement, the tensile strength is unmatched. If your lot were to develop a sinkhole, concrete would bridge the hole, preventing the concrete from sinking into the basin.

Maul: Your Solution for Failed Drainage Basins

If your basins do fail, call the experts! At Maul Paving, Sealcoating, and Concrete, we do it all. If your lot has an issue, you can count on us to fix it – whether that means paving, putting in concrete, adding proper signage, repairing sidewalks, or putting in the necessary drainage basins to avoid puddles and potholes. We offer a variety of drainage systems to give you the best option for your lot. Our services include cold milling, helping adjust the grade of your lot and improving drainage overall.

Our team of professionals works with you throughout the entire job to ensure that you’re in the know—every step of the way. We give your ground the respect it deserves by fixing issues, repairing cracks and potholes, putting in ramps that are ADA compliant, or adding curbs to keep your lot looking fresh from edge to edge. We serve a variety of industries, including retail, commercial and industrial, government facilities, medical, and homeowner association communities. Don’t hesitate to contact us at 630.420.8765 to discuss your paving, sealcoating, and concrete needs or request a quote today!


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