What is a Soakaway?

what is a soakway

A soakaway is a common drainage solution for many properties in the UK. Put simply, a soakaway is a pit that is dug into the ground to collect excess rainwater. This pit is then filled with coarse gravel, rubble or even plastic crates that allow the water to collect and filter through.

This excess water will eventually soak into the ground well away from your house and its foundations. In some instances, soakaways are also used as a drainage field to take the treated water from a septic tank and eventually allow it to soak into the surrounding ground.

Soakaways are a highly effective solution to dealing with excess rainwater rather than diverting the water into the main sewer drains.



What Are The Benefits Of A Soakaway?

Soakaways are highly beneficial in areas that receive a lot of heavy rainfall. Essentially, they provide a way to drain the excess water away from any building and hold it until it can be absorbed into the surrounding soil.

This eliminates flooding around your home from excess surface water when you experience periods of heavy rainfall.

Here are some of the other benefits:

  • Soakaways are quite easy to maintain.
  • They are also fairly easy to install almost anywhere.
  • Soakaways also stop excess run off from ending up in nearby waterways.
  • They also avoid overloading the main sewer drains during periods of high rainfall.
  • You may be eligible for a bill rebate from your sewerage company if you have an effective soakaway installed on your property.


How Is Water Diverted To The Soakaway?


Many soakaways are situated at a level slightly below the surrounding ground area. This allows for the natural water flow to end up in the pit. Some soakaways may also have a drain pipe attached that is connected to your rainwater gutters. This diverts the rainwater into the pit rather than it going into the main sewer system.

Some soakaways also collect water from a French drain that has been installed on the property. A French drain is usually a drain that runs along the lower parts of your garden to collect the surface water. This drain is a trench that has a pipe in it and is then filled with gravel or a similar material. The end of the pipe is connected straight into the soakaway.

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    Are There Any Problems Associated With Soakaways?


    Although soakaways are highly effective and low-maintenance, there can be problems if one hasn’t been installed correctly.

    • If a silt filter has not been installed, the soakaway can easily be blocked by leaves and dirt, making it ineffective.
    • Soakaways are only effective in soils that drain well. They may not work well in heavy clay soils.
    • It’s important that the soakaway is installed far enough from your house in order to avoid any flooding issues or causing problems for the home’s foundation.

    For these reasons, it’s always prudent to contact a professional for advice as to whether a soakaway is right for your property and how it should be installed correctly.



    How To Check If Your Soil Is Right For Installing A Soakaway


    In order for a soakaway to work effectively, your soil has to be permeable. Quite often, this is not the case with very heavy clay soils. So, how do you determine whether your soil is adequate? You have to do a percolation test. This is a fairly simple task that you can do yourself.

    Here are the steps:

    • On a dry day, dig a hole in your garden. It should be around 300 mm deep and around 300 mm in diameter.
    • Fill the hole with a bucket of water (around 10 litres).
    • Check the water in the hole after about 2 to 4 hours.
    • If the water has drained into the ground, then your soil is permeable enough to support a soakaway. However, if the water has not been absorbed into the ground, then a soakaway may not work effectively in your yard.

    Make sure that you also check the building regulations for your local area to ensure that installing a soakaway is permissible.


    How Do You Maintain A Soakaway In Your Yard?


    If your yard already has a soakaway installed, then it should require very little maintenance. However, here are a few tips to keep your soakaway working effectively:

    • Conduct a visual inspection of the ground around your soakaway at least once a year to ensure that there are no signs of water logging. If you do see water pooling around the soakaway, it may mean that it’s not working correctly or may need cleaning.
    • Keep the area fairly clear of large trees or shrubs as the roots of these plants could easily enter the soakaway, making it ineffective.
    • If you find that your soakaway may need a clean, it’s best to contact a professional.


    How Installing A Soakaway Can Save You Money


    A soakaway is not only an environmentally friendly way of getting rid of excess rainwater but it can also save you money. You see, your sewerage company charges you for surface water drainage that has to be carried away by the sewer drains.

    However, if you have an effectively operating soakaway on your property or in your yard, you should be able to receive a rebate from your sewerage company every year. You might even be able to claim a small refund for money that you’ve already paid for surface water drainage in the past.

    Check with your sewerage company via their charging scheme, to see what kind of rebate you might be eligible for.


    Final Thoughts


    A soakaway is a drainage pit on your property or in your yard that can handle excess rainwater and holds it until it’s absorbed into the surrounding ground. This reduces the amount of excess rainwater that ends up in the main sewer drains and also eliminates flooding around your property.

    You need to ensure that your soil is permeable enough before installing a soakaway, but doing so may save you some money on your sewerage bill.

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