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Comprehensive Guide to Soakaway Drains: Benefits and Installation

Comprehensive Guide to Soakaway Drains, A soakaway drain is a simple yet effective solution for managing excess rainwater and surface water in residential and commercial properties. Essentially, it is a hole or trench filled with coarse stone, rubble, or specially designed crates, where water can slowly percolate into the ground. This method helps to reduce the risk of flooding, manage stormwater runoff, and prevent water from damaging structures.

How Soakaway Drains Work

Soakaway drains work by collecting water from surfaces such as roofs, driveways, and lawns. The collected water is then directed into the soakaway system through pipes. Once the water enters the soakaway, it gradually infiltrates the surrounding soil, thus helping to replenish groundwater levels. This slow percolation process mimics natural water cycles, making soakaway drains an environmentally friendly solution.

Benefits of Soakaway Drains

  1. Flood Prevention: Soakaway drains effectively manage excess rainwater, reducing the risk of localized flooding in areas prone to heavy rainfall.
  2. Groundwater Recharge: By allowing water to seep into the ground, soakaway drains help to maintain healthy groundwater levels.
  3. Reduced Waterlogging: Properties with soakaway drains experience less waterlogging, which can protect gardens, lawns, and landscaping from damage.
  4. Environmental Protection: Soakaway systems reduce the burden on public sewer systems, decreasing the chances of sewer overflows and pollution.
  5. Cost-Effective: Installing a soakaway drain can be a more economical option compared to other water management systems, especially in the long run.

Types of Soakaway Drains

  1. Traditional Stone-Filled Soakaways: These involve digging a pit and filling it with rubble or coarse stone. They are simple to construct but may not be as efficient as modern systems.
  2. Crate Soakaways: These use modular, interlocking plastic crates that create a void for water to collect and slowly infiltrate the soil. They are more efficient and can handle larger volumes of water.
  3. Permeable Paving: This type combines paving materials that allow water to seep through and underlying layers that direct water to a soakaway drain.

Planning Your Soakaway Drain

Before installing a soakaway drain, proper planning is crucial. Here are the steps to ensure an effective installation:

  1. Site Assessment: Evaluate your property’s topography and soil type. Sandy or gravelly soils are ideal for soakaways due to their high permeability.
  2. Sizing the Soakaway: Calculate the volume of water your soakaway needs to handle. This involves considering the surface area that will drain into it and local rainfall patterns.
  3. Location: Choose a location at least 5 meters away from buildings and boundaries to avoid water damage and ensure proper infiltration.
  4. Permits and Regulations: Check with local authorities for any permits or regulations regarding soakaway installations.

Installation Process

  1. Excavation: Dig a hole or trench to the required size, considering the volume of water and the type of soakaway system.
  2. Lining: Line the excavation with a geotextile membrane to prevent soil from clogging the system.
  3. Filling: Fill the excavation with coarse stone, rubble, or install the modular crates. Ensure even distribution for optimal performance.
  4. Connection: Connect the inlet pipe from the downspouts or drainage pipes to the soakaway.
  5. Backfilling and Covering: Cover the top of the soakaway with a geotextile membrane and soil or turf to match the surrounding landscape.

Maintenance Tips

To keep your soakaway drain functioning efficiently, regular maintenance is essential:

  1. Inspect Regularly: Check the soakaway and inlet pipes for blockages or damage, especially after heavy rains.
  2. Clear Debris: Remove leaves, dirt, and other debris from gutters and downspouts to prevent clogging.
  3. Monitor Water Flow: Ensure that water is flowing freely into the soakaway and not pooling around the property.

Common Problems and Solutions

  1. Clogging: Over time, silt and debris can clog the soakaway. Regular cleaning of gutters and downspouts can prevent this.
  2. Overflow: If the soakaway cannot handle the volume of water, consider expanding it or installing additional systems.
  3. Poor Drainage: This can be due to unsuitable soil or incorrect installation. In such cases, consult a professional to assess and rectify the issue.

Environmental and Legal Considerations

When planning a soakaway drain, it’s important to consider environmental and legal factors:

  1. Environmental Impact: Properly designed soakaway systems enhance groundwater recharge and reduce surface runoff, benefiting the local ecosystem.
  2. Building Regulations: Ensure your soakaway meets local building codes and regulations, which may specify requirements for size, location, and materials.
  3. Conservation Areas: In conservation areas, special permissions may be required to install a soakaway, so always check with local authorities.

DIY vs. Professional Installation

While some homeowners may opt for a DIY installation, there are benefits to hiring professionals:

  1. Expertise: Professionals have the knowledge and experience to design and install an effective soakaway system tailored to your property.
  2. Efficiency: A professional installation can be completed more quickly and with less disruption.
  3. Compliance: Professionals ensure that your soakaway meets all local regulations and standards.

Cost Considerations

The cost of installing a soakaway drain can vary based on several factors:

  1. Materials: The type of materials used, such as stone or modular crates, will affect the overall cost.
  2. Labor: Hiring professionals adds to the cost, but ensures a high-quality installation.
  3. Size and Complexity: Larger or more complex systems will naturally cost more due to the increased materials and labor required.


Soakaway drains are a practical, environmentally friendly solution for managing excess rainwater and preventing flooding. Whether you choose a traditional stone-filled soakaway or a modern crate system, proper planning and maintenance are key to ensuring its effectiveness. For most homeowners, consulting a professional for design and installation is the best way to achieve a reliable and compliant system.

For a quote or professional advice on installing a soakaway drain, contact VIV Construct Group.