For many average homeowners, the term “catch basin” is vaguely familiar — but they aren’t exactly sure what it means. It sounds like a specialty term, something a professional would know. However, this important component of parking lots and streets has a more common name: the storm drain. If you mention this term, people are much more likely to know what you’re talking about.

Catch basins are essentially drains toward which precipitation, flooding, or any source of water should supposedly go. When it comes down to it, this is an incredibly important function of any populated (or sparsely populated, for that matter) area. Without storm drains (i.e. catch basins), our neighborhoods and town centers would be flooded during periods of heavy rain, or during the spring thaw (if you live in a snowy area, like New Jersey).

Given the importance of catch basins, it’s amazing how frequently they develop problems. And if you live or work near a malfunctioning catch basin, you’ll probably know about it first hand.

There are many real world examples of what can happen when catch basins are faulty, but here’s a hypothetical one:

If a storm drain was not correctly and professionally installed by a reputable asphalt specialist, there might be a gap between the basis itself and the surrounding pavement. What happens? Over time, water becomes trapped in this gap. Winter comes, and the water freezes. The expansion and contraction of the ice begin to dislodge the storm dream. The cover (or “grate”) starts to sink down, and loses stability. This is a prime situation for a sinkhole to form.

A licensed professional will tell you that such a catch basin can be repaired. If the pavement around the faulty storm drain is milled and removed, the storm drain can be restored to the proper position. Once this is done, fresh pavement (usually asphalt) will be installed to lock the storm drain in place. And when a true professional does this, they won’t leave gaps.

Here’s one more hypothetical:

The lower areas of the pavement installation (called the base and sub base layers) begin to lose form after a long period of aging. What’s going on beneath the surface of pavement can be very problematic. This can be especially problematic when catch basins are involved, as the asphalt will often begin to sink down around them.

This makes it impossible for water to drain properly.

What if something like this happens?

These may be hypotheticals, but they happen all the time across the country. Fortunately for home and business owners, repairing catch basins usually won’t break the bank. According to national average, we can expect to pay anywhere from $900 to $3500 for catch basin repair in 2017. But that’s not really good news, since it’s still a lot of money.

Hopefully, your neighborhood’s catch basins were installed by a reputable pavement professional in your area. Then you really shouldn’t have to worry about catch basin repair at all — and that’s the ideal situation!