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Is your soakaway not soaking away? Read on to find out why and what you need to do
If you're sat in your garden basking in the lovely sunshine, the last thing you want to be interrupting your daydreams is nasty niffs coming from your drainage system. Or worse, your dog rolling around in what looks like dirty water, pooling somewhere near where you think your soakaway might be. So, here's the UKDP guide to why your soakaway may no longer be soaking away - and, importantly, what can be done to sort it out so that you can get back to enjoying the more pleasant sights and smells of nature.
Modern day soakaways (also referred to as drainage fields) are simple but clever systems. Really, they do what they say on the tin which is to take the wastewater from your septic tank or sewage treatment plant and disperse it safely through the sub-soils in your garden. This happens because the pipes used to create a soakaway system are perforated or slotted, which allows the water to pass through at various points. The soil provides a certain kind of treatment of the waste water as it passes through - I won't get into the technical detail, all you really need to know is that it does enough to ensure that the waste water doesn't cause any pollution. If you want to find out more about soakaways, check out our dedicated guide here.
So, when they work, soakaway systems are great. But what happens when they go wrong, and you start to get soakaway problems or septic tank problems as a result?
There are a few different ways that soakaway systems can become damaged, here's a few of the main ones:
It may be that your soakaway isn't damaged, since there are other things that can cause problems such as ground conditions or a soakaway system which isn't big enough. Of course, you can also get soakaway problems just because it's failed over time. There's no real or useful guide as to how long soakaways can last, as there are so many things which can affect them - for example, the number of people living in the property, the ground conditions, how often the septic tank or treatment plant has been emptied, even the dietary habits of the people living in the property can have an effect! We have seen soakaway systems as old as 50 years old which are still functioning as they should be, so age isn't always an issue.
No one likes bad news, so let's go with the easy ones first and hope that sorts it out.
If neither of those things work, then you might want to get a knowledgeable and friendly company out to carry out an inspection, perhaps even us! They (I should say we) would be able to tell you exactly what's going on, and what needs to be done to get things working again.
Unfortunately, the problem with soakaway systems is that they often can't be repaired. If it's been damaged or just failed over time, it will most likely need to be replaced. The caveat on that is that the ground conditions would still need to be right, and you would need to have enough space to house a soakaway system that is properly sized for your property. This is what percolation tests are for.
It's important that every factor is taken into consideration when looking at a solution for a soakaway problem. We believe that nothing should be left to chance. Often, a 'quick fix' can also be a quick path back to more problems. At UKDP we carry out a full and thorough technical assessment to ensure that any soakaway solution gives our customers as many years of trouble-free drainage as possible.
In certain circumstances you could be covered for the cost of a replacement soakaway. Depending on the policy you have in place, and the damage to your septic tank or soakaway, you may be covered for the cost of repairing or replacing your drainage system by your existing buildings insurance. The same is typically true of tree root damage or collapsed pipes.
It just so happens that here at UKDP, we specialise in two things - finding out what's causing soakaway problems or septic tank problems, and managing insurance claims to get the problem sorted as quickly and painlessly as possible. Give us a call on 0800 028 9903 and we’ll guide you through the process.
Sam's career prior to UKDP was spent in the marketing and service industries, so she is focused on making sure we look after our customers – and getting the UKDP message out there! Sam has overall responsibility for business operations and for delivering the best customer service we can.