How to unblock a soakaway crate

Although in most cases a blockage shouldn't occur if you've installed correctly, sometimes these things happen. Find out here what to do if your crates do get blocked.

After installing surface water soakaways for your property, it’s quite easy to forget about your drainage system and get on with life. That is, until problems start to arise. Suddenly, water is pooling on nearby patches of lawn, or drains and pipes start to overflow. What to do when your soakaways are causing issues? Read this guide to identifying and resolving problems with surface water drainage caused by blocked soakaways.

What are soakaway crates?

Soakaways in drainage systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Years ago, soakaways began as a hole dug in the earth, before being lined with geotextile and filled with permeable material such as rubble or stone. The modern equivalent is to use crate which are inspectable and have a much higher void ratio. The purpose of a soakaway is to collect the surface water from around your property, preventing pooling and flooding. The permeable holes in the soakaway then allow the water to drain naturally to the surrounding ground.

Plastic soakaway crates are a popular option for surface drainage in modern industry, due to their lightness of weight, wide applicability and time-saving contribution to drainage installation. The void ratio for plastic crates is much higher than stone allowing a much smaller footprint.

Blocked soakaway indicators

Common signs of a blocked surface water soakaway include:

  • Pooling of water around pipes and gullies
  • Soaked and waterlogged ground near the soakaway
  • Overflow of drains and pipes connected to the soakaway

Causes of soakaway blockage

When they are blocked, soakaways are hindered. This can make it more difficult to distribute the collected water back into the soil, leading to the issues listed above. There could be many factors to blame, including:

  • Heavy rain and groundwater collection as a result of flooding
  • A backlog caused by a buildup of excess silt, leaves, etc.
  • Compression of earth by overland traffic causing compression of earth around the soakaway
  • Ground movement, soil composition or above-ground vehicle traffic cause collapse of pipes
  • Current levels of water capacity not being supported by the drainage system’s specification

How to unblock a soakaway crate

If you have a blocked soakaway there is no way it can be fixed except through complete replacement. This is due to the fact that most problems arising from blocked soakaways are a result of poor installation. However, if the blockage has been caused by natural materials, like silt and leaves, it may be possible to clear the crate.

Such blockages are usually a result a result of a failure in the silt traps and filters of the system. If these or other materials build up within pipes, they can prevent water from being collected and filtered back into the ground. Silt traps should be regularly checked and maintained to ensure their efficiency and prevent overflow of materials getting into the soakaway.

If the crates used have inspection channels, jet washing, alongside a submersible pump can help remove any silt and debris build up. However, where dirt build-up is stubborn, this method may not provide a guarantee of success. To identify the problem more easily, it is usually a good idea to seek assistance from an engineer or specialist organisation.

When soakaways cannot be cleaned or fixed, the last remaining solution is complete replacement. Be sure to speak to your insurance company to see if you are covered for the cost of replacement.

Considerations for soakaway replacement

Replacement of blocked or damaged soakaways can be a costly process. This is because Building Regulations stipulate that new soakaways are installed in a new location, away from the original, and a minimum of 5m away from nearby buildings.

As a result, it’s always a good idea to contact your local Building Control Department before making major alterations to your drainage scheme.

When specified and installed correctly, modern soakaway crates should guarantee long-lasting performance and trouble-free water drainage throughout your system.For extra advice on this subject, you can read our guide on how to install a plastic soakaway.

Get in touch with JDP’s Technical Support Team about the installation and repair of your soakaway crates. We’re more than happy to help.

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