Large Residential Catch Basin Options

If you discuss catch basins with an excavating contractor, they immediately think about large pre-cast concrete storm water drainage structures that are part of municipal, state or federal drainage systems. These basins commonly have an interior dimension of 2’ x 4’ or larger and are made of 8” thick reinforced concrete.

A landscape contractor’s perspective on catch basins will be different. Typically, the largest catch basin used in a landscaping drainage system is 2’ x 2’. Precast concrete basins are available in this size, but they are referred to as 2’ x 2’ yard basins.

There are a number of options available for landscape contractors and homeowners who need a large catch basin. By large, I am referring to a basin with a maximum size of 2’ x 2’. A catch basin of this size (2’ x 2’) is at the boundary that separates commercial products from residential products. Basins larger than 2’ x 2’ are generally made with the intention of being exposed to heavy traffic. This article will be discussing some of the “large” catch basin products available for residential application.

Pre-Cast Concrete Catch Basin

The first product to discuss is the traditional pre-cast concrete yard basin. These products are made in a concrete shape factory using a metal form. The wall will generally contain some amount of mesh reinforcing. There may be indentations in the walls (known as knock-outs) that will make it easy for a contractor to remove a section of the wall and install a drainage pipe. Usually, the largest pipe that can fit into this basin is a 15” diameter concrete pipe. These basins can be made with pre-existing drainage pipe holes to your specification. Grating options are traditionally limited to heavy duty cast iron slotted or bar grating. Though this type of basin is relatively inexpensive, they require a backhoe or small crane to set them into place. Your local pre-cast concrete company may have these in stock, but you will need some serious construction equipment to move and place it.

Cast-in-Place Concrete Catch Basin

If a pre-cast concrete catch basin is too heavy for you to handle by yourself, consider forming a large basin in place. Catch basin forming systems exist that allow you to build a concrete catch basin at your location. After digging a pit for the catch basin, set a metal frame and Styrofoam form inside the hole and suspend it with rebar above the base of the pit. The form will become the “reservoir” of the basin that collects all the water. The space around the form will become the concrete walls of the basin.

Prior to pouring concrete around the form, attach any drain pipe (entering or leaving) by simply butting it up to the form and securing it in some fashion.Once you have the form secured in place with all the desired plumbing, pour concrete around the form.

Depending on the size of the basin, you may choose to hire a ready mix concrete company to bring in “the mud”. However, if you excavated your hole with tight dimensional control you may feel comfortable hand mixing bagged concrete and saving yourself a little money.

I mention this because most ready mix concrete companies have a minimum delivery charge. If you are making a 2’ x 2’ x 2’ catch basin with a 6” thick wall, you will need a half yard of concrete (or 2000 lbs.). I’d probably get a concrete truck and pay the minimum charge. However, if I was going to make the walls of that same catch basin 3” thick, I might decide to hand mix the concrete.

Visit our Trench Drain Installation page to learn more about installation methods.

Polymer Concrete Catch Basins

Another option for large yard basins is the polymer concrete catch basin. Polymer concrete is composed of natural mineral aggregates and a polymer binder. It has a very high strength in comparison to conventional concrete. This high strength allows very thin walled and light weight structures to be made with comparable properties as pre-cast concrete would have.

Product lines, such as Polycast, include 24” x 24” x 24” boxes that are use to build a catch basin. For additional depth, two foot deep extensions can be placed on top of the solid bottom basin. Smaller catch basins made with polymer concrete are available as well.

Attaching PVC piping to polymer concrete catch basins can be a little trickier especially since it is ideal to avoid using concrete when installing this catch basin. However, you may find it is necessary to use concrete to help seal the pipe in the basin wall or maybe when forming a small apron around the grating to help direct water into the basin.

And speaking of grating, polymer concrete catch basins may have some good residential grating options, but they tend to look industrial.

Plastic Catch Basins

The final basin type I am going to discuss is the plastic catch basin. There are a number of manufacturers in the marketplace that promote plastic catch basins. I’m most familiar with products by National Diversified Sales (NDS). These products range in size from 24” x 24” to
9” x 9”. The larger NDS basins are made from high density polyethylene (HDPE) while the smaller basins are made from PVC.

Extensions are available for adjusting the depth of the basin. Piping is connected to the basin with an adapter fitting and PVC glue can be used to secure the pipe and fitting, though it is not necessary.

Catch basin grating options become better as you decrease the drain’s size. For instance, the large 24” x 24” NDS catch basin has 5 grate options. On the other hand, NDS’ 12” x 12” basin has 15 options. Plastic grates in a variety of colors are common throughout the NDS basin product line. They also have cast iron and galvanized steel bar grating. Other manufacturers also have grating options for the NDS basins. Iron Age Designs is one such company. Below are four decorative cast iron grates made for the NDS 12” x 12” catch basin. Some of these patterns are also available in sizes that fit other NDS basins.

As you can see from the examples I gave above, there are many options in large residential catch basins. I realize that the information given here may not answer all of your questions. To get more details on a product or advice on a catch basin application, send me an email at or call Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221.

Residential Downspout Catch Basin Installation

In a previous article, I introduced some simple catch basins and their applications in yard and residential roof downspout drainage.  Products by National Diversified Sales (NDS) were presented.  In this article, we will look at downspout catch basin installation and highlight two square NDS catch basins.

Catch Basins and Water Quality

It is common for homeowners to put their downspout water into a pipe that then travels out to the street or a back yard location.  This often leads to clogged drainage pipes because leaves, sticks and sand particulate from roofing shingles build up in the pipe to gradually reduce drainage efficiency.

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I like to think of a catch basin as the “first line of defense” in cleaning up rain water and preventing clogged drainage pipes.  A catch basin helps to reduce downspout drainage problems in two ways.  First, the grating that covers the basin filters out coarse debris that finds its way through the downspout.  The grate “catches” the biggest contributing factor to clogged drain pipes before it enters the catch basin.

The second way of cleaning the water is the catch basin sump where finer particles that pass the grating are “caught.”  The sump is a small water reserve that is just below the exit pipe (invert out) of the basin.  As suspended particles are first entering the catch basin, they must pass a swimming test.  If they are able to enter the sump portion of the basin and “float with the current” to the exit pipe, they win.  If they are too heavy or the water is too slow, they will sink to the bottom of the sump and be left there for later removal.  The particles that generally “pass” the sump test are light organics and fine silt and clay sized.  The particles that get trapped in the catch basin’s sump need to be cleaned out periodically.  (So, check your sumps!!)  Also, the deeper or wider the sump, the more difficult it will be for the particle to “swim” to the exit pipe.

Catch Basin Installation

That’s the theory.  Let’s talk about installation.  I’m going to show two methods to install catch basin drains in concrete:  the Single pour and the Double pour methods.  I always like to place drainage products in concrete because of a number of reasons.

1)     It adds strength to the trench drain or catch basin, especially if the drain system is made of plastic,
2)     It anchors the drainage product to the ground and reduces “floating”,
3)     I like the look of a concrete apron around the drain and feel that it helps direct the water to the drain,
4)     And lastly, I like working with concrete.

Single Pour Method

The Single pour installation method involves setting a catch basin in a form and making a single concrete pour to form the casing.  For demonstration purposes, I’m using an NDS900 catch basin with a single outlet.  The 900 series catch basin is a 9” x 9” basin with a built in 2 inch sump.  When you order this basin, you need to know what pipe size you are using to evacuate the water because you will have to order a pipe adapter to insert into the outlet of the basin.  (Note: all larger NDS catch basins will have this feature.)

For this installation, I had a pre-existing drainage pipe connected to the downspout; it was clear of debris and exited on the side on a hill, so this was a preemptive strike on my part.  I first dug a hole at the base of the downspout.  The hole was large enough and deep enough to accommodate the basin and a 3 inch border around the basin.

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Catch Basin Installation Hole

The next step requires setting the catch basin, connecting the pipe to the drain outlet and building a wooden mold that will form the concrete casing.  I was sloppy with this installation.  I admit it.  Normally, my work has symmetry.  In this case, I never centered the basin properly within the mold.  But, you will see soon that this can be made to look good.  You can see that I used metal “pins” (or spikes) that were hammered into the ground which hold the wooden form into place.  The pins have holes in them which allow me to hammer nails through them and into the wooden form.  This is how the mold is held rigid against the earth.  Also, the inside of the mold was lubricated with an oil to help in the release of the mold from the hardened concrete.  Many products are available on the market to provide this release.  However, an oil and kerosene mixture will work, as well as, plain ol’ Vaseline.

Pouring the concrete in the mold is the next step.  I used a 50 pound sack of concrete purchased from a local home improvement store.  After mixing to the proper consistency, I placed the concrete in the mold and used a metal rod to poke the wet mixture and ensure that air bubbles were not trapped.  I want to point out here that I didn’t have concrete under the catch basin.  I actually had a large stone.  The purpose of the concrete was to provide a “shell” around the catch basin which could provide additional drainage surface for downspout water to collect prior to entering the basin.

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Concrete pour during catch basin installation

After I let the concrete set over night, I stripped the mold and trimmed away all the tramp rock, dirt and wood to leave behind a clean, crisp concrete cube.  I want to point out here that I centered the drain under the downspout.  And, because the downspout pipe was so close to the wall, I opted to rest the catch basin against the house.  I could have put a curved spout on the downspout and brought the catch basin 3 inches away from the wall but decided to keep the downspout as-is.  If I’d gone that route, there would have been a concrete section between the house and the catch basin.  It could have been perfectly symmetrical!  (I should have done that.)

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Catch basin after installation

I put a bead of caulking between the wall and the concrete casing to keep water away from that spot.  One of the major causes of basement leaks is ground-foundation joints just like this one.  Unfinished joints provide an entry point for moisture that causes foundation damage over time.  A common solution is a catch basin or trench drain system installed along the water saturated point, but you should always seal the foundation anyway.

Next, I made it look purdy!  I packed clean soil around the concrete and added a little downspout extension to accurately direct the water.  And, I mulched the area.  Doesn’t it look nice?  Despite the poor symmetry of the concrete, it looks charming.  Even so, I learned from this experience and I will do a better job on the next installation.

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All tidied up!

Double Pour Method

The double pour catch basin installation method utilizes two concrete pours to set the drain.  The first pour is made around the sump basin to stabilize it; the second pour, made after the first has hardened, is to complete construction of the larger drainage surface.

The double pour method is generally used when you are placing the drain within a large open area or within a larger form.  For instance, if you are making a new concrete driveway, there will be forms defining the edges of the driveway.  It would be unnecessary to build a perimeter form around your catch basin or driveway trench drain.  You would merely set your drain in a location at an elevation that would facilitate the drainage of the driveway.  After setting up the drain pipes and any structural steel, the whole driveway would be poured at the same time.

However, a catch basin will try to rise out of the wet concrete like a boat on water.  Lightweight objects will become buoyant and sway or float during concrete placement if not locked down beforehand.  A small amount of concrete poured at the base of the drain will provide the stability needed for the final pour.  And prior to drying, the elevation and alignment can be “fine tuned” in preparation of the final pour.

In the example that follows, I used a 12” x 12” catch basin made by NDS.  This product, NGB1200, is promoted as the Next Generation Basin.  Its walls are constructed in a manner which allows you to adjust the depth of the sump area at the base of the basin.  Walls are constructed either with an invert opening or with a solid wall.  The following picture shows installing and trimming a solid wall section of the basin.

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Adjustable outlet for catch basin

For this installation, I decided to have a shallow sump on the catch basin.  When installing the open invert wall section, I trimmed the section to give only a 1” deep sump and attach a pipe adapter to fit my 4” S&D pipe.  This NDS fitting (#1243) locked into the side of the open basin wall.

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NGB1200 Outlet Adapter

The overall project called for a new sidewalk that ran adjacent to an existing driveway.  Here, the downspout drained into the yard, which sloped so that water ran across the driveway and into the street.  While pouring concrete for the sidewalk, we decided to add a catch basin to prevent further downspout issues.  The basin was installed at the base of the downspout and was flanked by the driveway and garage foundation.

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Hole for NGB1200 Installation

A hole was prepared to the proper depth.  Next, a small amount of concrete was placed in the hole.  The catch basin was set in the hole and filled with stones to help keep it from floating.  More concrete was poured around the basin to ensure that it would be locked into place once dried.  While the concrete was still wet, the basin was adjusted to the proper elevation and symmetry with the driveway and house.

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First pour during “Double Pour” installation

After the first pour had hardened, it was time to pour the sidewalk.  The stones that were originally put in the catch basin to stabilize it were left in place during the second pour.  Once the sidewalk had been poured and was dry enough to walk on, the stones were removed and the catch basin was cleaned of stray concrete.  As a final touch, I added a decorative cast iron “Sun Grate” by Iron Age Designs to complete the project.

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It passed final inspection!

Final Notes

Catch Basin sizes and styles vary with application and drainage requirements.  Residential catch basins range in size from 6” diameter garden drains to 24” x 24” yard drains and offer a wide variety of grating options.  Plastic, brass, cast iron and chrome grates are designed to meet the cost or aesthetic requirements of your residential drainage project.

Trench Drain Systems is an authorized dealer for NDS drainage products and can offer advice in making catch basin selections.  In addition, we carry Iron Age decorative grating products that fit many of the NDS drainage products.

Contact at 610-638-1221 or email for assistance on your project.

Catch Basins and Downspout Drainage

A driveway that slopes into a garage can direct storm water toward the house. Trench drain can be used to remedy this drainage problem by helping to redirect water away from the garage or living space. However, a big contributor to the water problem can also be downspout water. Driveways often have downspouts that drain roof water directly onto the pavement. If the driveway doesn’t slope away from the house or allow for adequate drainage, water pooling or flooding can occur. This article is about how simple catch basins can help to re-route downspout water.

Nobody likes a wet basement. The first line of defense in keeping your basement dry is to keep water away from your foundation. The most common source of water will be storm water which falls on your roofs and hardscapes. Take that water and re-direct it away from your foundation by using drainage pipe and catch basins. This is going to require that you first develop a drainage plan. For this plan, you need to determine which point sources of water you have and where you want to re-route them using drainage pipe. To minimize digging, use a single “artery” through which all the other downspouts and yard basins connect. In some cases, you may find it more efficient to use two different drainage sites (i.e. front yard site and back yard site). Devise a plan that minimizes digging and disturbing your shrubs and landscape.


Taking your downspout directly into a drainage pipe is a common and economical method. This involves first digging a trench and laying drainage pipe to a lower drainage point. In some communities, the drainage pipe can run underground to the street where it exits from a hole drilled in the curb. Then hook your downspout directly into the pipe for immediate redirection of your roof water.

If you want to include surface water in your drainage plan, consider using a catch basin under your downspout. If situated properly, the catch basin can collect water that pools in your yard as well as water from your downspout. Catch basins can also be made to be an attractive addition to your garden down spout. In the examples shown below, the catch basins (9” x 9”) were set in concrete for stability. These basins were part of a larger “gray water” plan which directed all the downspout water to a 1300 gallon reservoir which could later be used for an irrigation system. The overflow from the holding tank travels through perforated pipe prior to draining into a ravine.

Basins have a variety of sizes and outlet configurations which should be a consideration when designing your system. Basin selection will be a function of the anticipated water volume, piping depth and water source layout. Catch basin grating selection is broad. You will have color, style, application and material options that will depend on the cost and aesthetics desired on the project. Plastic grating is, by far, the least expensive option and is available in a number of colors. Smaller basins can also be fit with brass or chrome grates, which are both attractive and costly. Cast iron grates are surprisingly affordable and available in a variety of styles for 12” x 12” basins and some small round drains. For help in material selection, call Trench Drain Systems at 610-882-3630.