- Mary Bell
What is a Soakaway And how to install a new soakaway In Alderney?
Soakaways are a simple but effective way to deal with excess water, especially if you're living in an area where rainfall is frequent. They're particularly useful for domestic properties with septic tanks or those which have a large roof that catches the rain and allows it to drain through into their gardens.
They can be installed underground, and they work by collecting and storing the water so it can slowly seep back into the ground. But what exactly is a soakaway? What goes into installing one? And how do you know if you need one or not?
Soakaways are underground drains
A soakaway is a large underground tank that collects wastewater from your home. It's typically designed to hold the wastewater until it decomposes and can be safely discharged into the ground without harming local wildlife or waterways. Soakaways are most commonly used for rainwater drainage from rooftops or for pumping away wastewater from septic tank systems.
Other uses for soakaways include pumping water away from the bottom of a pond or lake; this can be useful if you do not want to drain your pond completely but still want to clear up any excess sediment at its bottom.
What’s the difference between a septic tank and a soakaway?
In short, septic tanks are for domestic use only, whereas soakaways are suitable for commercial use as well as domestic properties—and they’re larger than septic tanks too!
Soakaways also differ from conventional sewage systems in two ways: firstly, they don't require any electricity or pumps to work; secondly, they're made from thick concrete instead of plastic (like septic tanks).
Soakaways can be made of various materials. Concrete is often used in the construction of a soakaway, as it is hard-wearing and will not easily corrode or rust. Other options include bricks, stone, and gravel, depending on your needs and budget. They are infilled with a porous material.
Soakaway construction and installation
The installation of a soakaway is made relatively easy by following these steps:
Dig a hole that measures approximately three feet in diameter and about two feet deep, depending on the soil conditions. The hole should be large enough to accommodate the plastic liner and gravel needed for drainage.
Once you've completed digging, place your pre-cut plastic liner (or purchase one from your local hardware store) into the bottom of the hole and cover it with gravel. You can add more insulation to this layer if desired—this will help prevent freezing in colder climates during winter months.
Fill up any remaining space with more gravel or mulch until reaching ground level again, making sure that there are no gaps or holes where water can escape.
Soakaway location and size
Soakaways are often placed in the ground, but they can also be installed on a wall. The location and size of your soakaway depend on its purpose and who will be using it.
Soakaways should be located at least 100 meters from any drinking water supply and 50 meters from any river or pond. In addition, they should be situated at least three meters from the boundary of your property. They should never be placed directly under a house, garage, or patio, as this would compromise their performance. The minimum size required is that they must hold at least three times the amount of water that goes into it every day (e.g., one cubic meter). You shouldn't exceed this capacity—unless you're willing to pay for more expensive equipment!
The maximum size allowed is dependent on where you live: generally speaking, if there's no limit set by local regulations, then soakaways need only meet national standards; otherwise, they must conform with local building codes (and may require permits).
You should also be aware that soakaways should not be located in areas where subsidence is likely to occur; they need sufficient ventilation to allow gases to escape, and Soakaways should not have significant amounts of soil over them, as this can impede drainage and prevent evaporation which contributes to the dispersal of the water. Soakaways should be free draining (i.e., they do not contain significant amounts of material that may block the flow of water), as this will help in preventing overflow during heavy rain events.
Subsidence can be caused by mining or the roots of trees, which can cause damage to buildings and other structures. If you suspect that your soakaway is affected by subsidence, please contact us immediately so we can investigate the problem.
Soil may also cause the soakaway to fill up with water and freeze in winter, leading to blockages within a drain system or flooding if your house is connected to a soakaway. Organic materials such as leaves and sawdust can also cause problems for your soakaway through clogging or pollution when they are washed down into the soakaway by rainfall or surface runoff from roads and other paved areas onto your property.
Soakaway drainage problems and faults
Soakaways drainage system has been known to cause problems if they are not installed correctly or if there are underlying issues with the soil around them.
For example, if there is too much clay under the ground where you are installing your soakaway, then there may be difficulties with draining away water because clay has high water-retention properties, which means that it doesn't dry out easily when exposed to air so excess moisture stays near the surface instead of being absorbed by surrounding soil layers (or other types of rock).
You might also see water pooling around or below ground level during heavy rainfall as well as potential leakage into nearby structures such as foundations/bases etc.
If you have a damaged soakaway, it is likely to be caused by one of the following:
An obstruction in the pipe. Tree roots can grow into underground pipes and cause damage.
Improper drainage. If your home has a blocked drain, water may not flow down through your piping as expected, causing pressure buildup and damage to the system.
Excessive pressure from outside sources, such as nearby construction or flooding, can shift soil around your property and potentially damage your soakaway.
Blocked or damaged drain pipes and sewers
If you have a blocked or damaged drainpipe, this can create problems for your soakaway.
If the drainpipe is blocked, then it will be difficult for the water to be drained away. If a sink gets blocked, this means that there may not be enough water flowing through the pipe and into your soakaway.
If there is damage to your soakaway itself, then it might not work properly and allow excess water into your house.
Do we need planning permission to install a new soakaway?
You might need planning permission to install a new soakaway if it is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) or national park or within the curtilage of a listed building.
If you are installing a new soakaway on your own property and do not want to notify your local authority, then you don't need planning permission. However, in some cases, an exemption may apply. For example, if the new soakaway will be less than 5 cubic meters in volume, less than 100mm deep, and less than 1 meter wide with no access points or pipes feeding into it, then you may be exempt from needing to notify your local authority.
We hope that this article has helped you to understand what a soakaway is and how it may be used on your property. If you want to install, maintain or repair a soakaway, then call Pro Blocked Drains for advice. With over 20 years of experience working with all types of drains and pipes, we have extensive experience in all types of drainage problems, there are not many situations or problems we haven’t already come across and resolved.
Our aim is always to find a solution as quickly as possible without causing you any inconvenience. With Pro Blocked Drains, we guarantee you:
Fully Qualified Safe Contractor Approved Workers
Quick Response Time
Full Indemnity Insurance
24/7 drain services
Availability 365 days of the year
No Call Out Fee
Peace of mind
If you are based in Alderney or the surrounding areas and need more information about our services, please get in touch with us today either by dropping us an email or calling on 0800 611 82 99. We will give you a free quote for all work carried out by our team of specialists. We also offer a 24/7/365 emergency service for any urgent repairs you may require.
Our friendly, knowledgeable staff are always happy to help!