Understanding the Purpose and Benefits of a Soakaway
Keeping with our continuing coverage of drainage and other overlooked architectural necessities, in today’s blog our architects in Warrington are looking at soakaways. Soakaways are a traditional method of stormwater disposal for buildings which are far from public sewer access, as they allow for efficient water infiltration into the adjacent soil.
Best implemented in a good draining ground like sand or chalk, in less porous grounds hollow soakaways are better suited. Recently, soakaways have been applied even in areas with well-connected sewer systems as they limit the impact of new building works and help distribute the costs of upgrading sewer structures.
How Various Soakaways Function
Soakaways need to have a large storage capacity as they have to accept large sudden influxes of stormwater before gradually letting it dissipate in the surrounding soil. Once a soakaway is full, it can only receive water as fast as it can dispel it. Because of this, architects in Warrington will often design soakaways with very large storage capacities, to deal with the intermittent and heavy rainfalls in the UK.
Some soakaways are filled with gravel, rubble or other large stones to ensure they don’t collapse, but of course, they have less storage capacity. A well-designed soakaway should empty from full to half-volume in about 24 hours to be ready for any following storm inflow.
Benefits and Advantages of a Soakaway
While soakaways have a few disadvantages, in general, they are an incredibly adaptable and efficient water collection and dispersal method. They occupy very little surface area and are fairly easy to construct and operate.
Architects in Warrington also like how soakaways enhance the soil’s natural water drainage abilities as they offer a significant surface area in contact with nearby land. Overall their good volume reduction and peak flow attenuation make them a widely used and liked drainage method.
Disadvantages of Soakaways
While soakaways are fantastic to drain large paved urban areas, there are some cases in which they aren’t as efficient as other methods. Generally unsuitable when built within poor draining soils, it’s essential to investigate and confirm infiltration rates of an area before incorporating a soakaway.
Similarly, soakaways aren’t suitable for any areas in which dissipated water can weaken structural foundations or poorly influence already-present drainage systems. On top of this, if runoff water is highly polluted or contaminated soakaways aren’t recommended.
Before you go talking about soakaways around them world, keep in mind they’re known by different names in countries outside the UK. Referred to as a soakwell in Australia and a soak pit in India, across the pond they’re known as dry wells.
Now that you know a bit about soakaways and their function, be sure to take a look at our other blog posts on surface and subsurface water drainage. If you’re looking for any further information about civil engineering design, extension planning for homes or anything else architecture and design related, contact our architects in Warrington today at 0151 321 1986.