All large commercial properties from baseball stadiums and shopping centers to college campuses and medical centers, have storms drains. These drains are installed for one reason and that reason is to prevent flooding during heavy rainstorms. Most property owners don’t pay much attention to these drains because they silently do their jobs. It’s only when they begin to fail that people take notice. By this time, you may have more on your hands than dealing with a flooded parking lot. You could end up with large sinkholes that lead to major property destruction.

At Street Works Engineering, we don’t want to see these problems happen to our customers. We know how important storm drains are for area businesses and do everything we can to educate our customers about how to care for these drains the right way. Additionally, we make it a priority to assist local businesses with fast, convenient, and effective storm drain cleaning. In this post, we want to talk about the two reasons that storm drains fail and what you can do to get ahead of potential problems.

Why Storm Drains Fail

The two reasons why storm drains stop working well include clogged catch basins and the type of material that the storm drain pipe is constructed from. Let’s talk about catch basin problems first.

Catch Basin Issues

How often have you noticed the catch basins on your commercial property becoming filled up with debris such as sticks and leaves or even road debris like car parts or trash? This happens becomes the wide grates that cover the catch basin’s opening makes it easy for these objects to get stuck. It’s a common issue that happens in all catch basins.

If it’s so common, then what’s the problem?

Well, what tends to happen is that people ignore the material stuck in the grate. Or, they don’t see any material in the grate and decide that there isn’t a problem. However, sometimes leaves and sticks and those other materials get pass the grate, but they aren’t able to move through the pipe. It’s not unusual for commercial properties in the area to go decades without getting catch basin cleaning. This is a serious problem because a commercial plumbing system’s storm drains are made to move a certain amount of water through the pipe. Unfortunately, when catch basins become severely clogged, the pipe ends up carrying more water but at a lesser flow rate. This results in standing water that can’t pass through the pipe. Where’s it going to go?

You guessed it! The water is going to back up into streets, parking lots, and other public areas making it very inconvenient for employees, clients, and anyone else. Serious storm drain damage can also result in fines from your local municipality.

Luckily, these sorts of problems are avoidable by getting yearly catch basin cleaning and having your storm drains inspected using video camera inspection services.

Pipe Material

Storm drain pipes are constructed of two kinds of pipe material: either concrete or corrugated steel. This type of steel has a grooved inside that looks similar to the threads on a screw. Pipes made from this steel material tend to corrode because of something called Microbiological Influenced Corrosion (MIC). When this happens, the chemicals inside the pipe system are actively breaking down the metal in the pipe. It’s similar to a parasite feeding off a host, if that helps you visualize what’s happening. Eventually, the pipe gives way to the chemicals and cracks and small leaks begin to form.

Although concrete pipes won’t corrode like corrugated steel, they are still capable of developing cracks and leaks. Commercial pipes are big and heavy with pipes as big as 8 – 10 connected together, pipe after pipe after pipe to form the line. The pipes are connected using rubber gaskets that tend to leak over time.

In addition to leaks from faulty rubber gaskets, another reason that concrete pipes leak has to do with their knockouts. These are holes at each end of the pipe that were made so sewer contractors could install chains into each end and get the pipe in place. Once the chain is removed, the holes are filled in with concrete. Yet, over time knockouts almost always start to leak.

No Area Is Immune to Storm Drain Problems

Although Southern California doesn’t receive rainfall amounts like some places in the country, we still get heavy downpours and rain showers. If your property’s storm drain isn’t in good condition, it doesn’t take much rain for problems to happen.

That’s why it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of storm drain problems. These signs include things such as the following:

  • Dips in the road
  • Standing water
  • Occasional flooding
  • Slow drainage
  • Sinkholes

These are all signs that the pipes connected to the storm drainage system aren’t working correctly and need attention.

With regular inspection and storm drain cleaning services, it’s possible to minimize the threat of flooding or sinkholes from storm drains. To learn more about how to do this at your property, contact Street Works Engineering today at (866) 377-4002. Let us help you protect your property!