Inlets, sometimes referred to as catch basins or storm drains, are designed to collect storm water runoff and act as a junction for a underground drainage system. They come in many shapes, sizes and designs but they all have the same function and objective. They are a part of a drainage system that will allow storm water to drain quickly off roads, parking lots, and fields. Much like your drains at home in the bottom of your shower, but on a much larger scale. Throughout the process of draining, the systems can become obstructed by the collection of debris carried away by typical precipitation.
Maintenance of these systems is very important to the well-being of the property they are designed for. Once the debris has accumulated enough, it will slow down and eventually STOP the drainage process and cause very unsafe conditions (slow drainage, pooling, freezing puddles, etc.). If the obstructions are removed through scheduled cleanings the lifetime of the drainage system will increase dramatically. The longer the systems go un-maintained, the higher the chance for damage and cost will be. The collected material is typically removed by hand or small machinery.
Oftentimes you will find failures directly next to an inlet. These failures are very common and very easy to fix if addressed quickly. The storm water that is directed into the inlet is typically moving very quickly (even with a small amount of precipitation). The quick moving water (and heavy road salts) cause the top of the inlet to begin to erode and collapse. This causes the adjacent pavement to begin to sink. In order to repair this, we must remove the sinking asphalt, rebuild the top of the inlet, and re-pave the surrounding area.
Surfaces adjacent to the inlets must maintain the correct pitch for drainage and will sometimes need to be repaired or adjusted. Once the asphalt perimeter of an inlet has been removed, the base is excavated as deep as necessary to perform the proper adjustments and repairs. Inlets can lose their effectiveness for many reasons. Frequently, they were never built correctly to begin with although, the harsh weather that New Jersey and the east coast deliver (heat, water, and freezing) year after year are usually the causes.
Symptoms and causes of problems of your inlet:
- Water starts to enter from either outside the concrete casting or seeps between the asphalt pavement and steel frame.
- Water seeping between blocks and set bricks used to adjust the grade, it freezes and expands.
- Ice blows out the mortar which causes the frame and grate to sink under the weight of traffic which creates a shifting grate that can fail and form a sink hole.
Solutions for your inlet:
- The first thing to do is have a licensed professional inspect your inlet to determine how severe the problem is. The grate is lifted to allow access to the interior of the concrete casting where pictures and/or video is taken.
- When work actually begins, the exterior perimeter of the inlet is cut and the asphalt is removed to the required depth.
- Whether or not the frame and grate need to be removed depends on the severity of the damage. Many times the repair can be done and the main parts remain in place. Once the repairs are made, the entire interior is parked with anti-hydro mortar to seal any cracks or joints in the block to prevent further water infiltration.
- Upon completion the area is patched with either asphalt or concrete.