How Does A Septic Tank Soakaway Work? (Solved)

A soakaway in simple terms is a hole in the ground filled with rocks. It will be set away from the septic tank, and wastewater is then released into it. That wastewater will diffuse through the rocks and slowly escape into the surrounding ground. It is connected to a septic tank using pipes.

  • A Septic Tank Soakaway or drainage field is a system of sub-surface irrigation pipes. The protected perforated pipes allow the effluent to percolate into the surrounding soil. The biological treatment takes place naturally in the aerated layers of soil which is typically the top 1 meter of your soil.

Does a soakaway septic tank need emptying?

All septic tanks require emptying ONCE A YEAR. They only hold 12 months sludge storage and if sludge starts to empty into the soakaway soil, it very quickly blocks the air spaces (porosity) in the soil, the effluent cannot soak away, you suffer a soakaway failure and the septic tank fills up, backing up the system.

How long should a septic tank soakaway last?

If installed correctly a drainage field for effluent should last for around 25 years as a minimum. A rainwater soakaway should last for far longer as long as the gutters are regularly cleaned and filtered.

How long do Soakaways last?

How Long Do Soakaways Last? They should last the life of the house, at least 100 years but only if installed correctly and filters are used to prevent leaves and other material clogging the soakaway.

How far should a soakaway be from a septic tank?

Minimum distances that the drainfield should be from: Buildings – 15 metres. Boundaries – 2 metres. Water abstraction point (well, spring, bore hole) – 50 metres.

How deep should a septic tank soakaway be?

The minimum size a soakaway should be constructed to is 30m. Pipes should be laid on a 300mm layer of shingle or medium of up to 50mm. The trenches must be filled 50mm above perforated pipe and covered with a membrane and then filled in with soil.

How far must a soakaway be from a house?

How Far Should a Soakaway be From the House? You need to ensure its far enough from the structure to prevent damage — 5 metres is the accepted distance, but this also depends on the calculated size of the soakaway.

How do you fix a soakaway?


  1. 1: IDENTIFY THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM. Find the area where the flooding occurs, and look for the pipes that are close by.

How do you clear a clogged soakaway pipe?

How to unblock a soakaway. On most occasions a blockage can be rectified with high pressure water jets, gaining access to the pipework and backwashing it to drag out the silt and leaves, so that it is left clear and running.

How do I know where my soakaway is?

The easiest way to find a soakaway is to follow the rainwater downpipes from your house and see how far they go. Often, the downpipes from your home will lead to a sunken area on your lawn. You need to be eagle-eyed, however, as soakaways are installed discreetly, so they can be hard to find.

Do soakaways smell?

If a soakaway is working effectively, then wastewater diffuses through porous gravel, rocks, and soil when released from the pipes. It doesn’t pool or stagnate, and it shouldn’t smell.

What is the difference between a septic tank and a soakaway?

A soakaway is a hole dug in the ground and filled with rubble and coarse stones, designed to disperse water back into the surrounding ground without flooding. A septic tank has two chambers and is buried underground in the same way as a cesspit.

Do all septic tanks have a soakaway?

A soakaway is not usually needed with a sewage treatment plant, but it is required with a septic tank. This is because the water released by a septic tank is primary treated effluent, meaning it has only gone through one stage of treatment.

How big should a soakaway be?

What Size Should My Soakaway Be? The most common size of soakaway for residential use is 1 Cubic Metre (1m³), as this is what most Local Authorities seem to specify. As a broad brush a Soakaway Size of 1m³ is sufficient to drain a roof area of approximately 50 square metres under normal conditions.

ASL Limited blog article

A drainage field installation, commonly known as a land drain, is seen in this photograph. At ASL Limited, we frequently serve clients who live in rural locations and have homes or other properties in such places. They are supplied by septic tanks since there were previously no options to gain access to major drains in the immediate area where they lived. Septic tanks and residential treatment plants are examples of private sewage systems that employ soakaway drainage systems to release wastewater to the environment.

Our expert engineers can diagnose and repair any problem that you may be experiencing with your septic system.

This is due to the fact that soakaway pits, boreholes, and deep excavations filled with rubble are often not permitted by the Environmental Agency.

If you have discovered that your septic tank or drainage field is clogged, in need of repair, or perhaps in need of replacement, please contact us right away for assistance.

What is a septic tank drainage field, and how does one work?

In order to remove toxins and impurities from the wastewater that exits your tank, a septic tank drainage field (also known as land drains) is installed. Using the piping going to the drainage fields, the wastewater that has passed through each chamber of your system, with the solid sewage effluent separated along the way, will exit the septic tank’s second chamber. Afterwards, it will discharge into drainage fields without causing any harm to the surrounding environment. The criteria by which a septic tank must be maintained have changed as of January 2020, and new legally enforceable requirements have been put in place.

This is the reason why the new laws specify that septic tanks must be equipped with drainage fields or else be connected to a sewage treatment facility.

A survey must first be carried out to guarantee that no major drains are within 30 metres of the tank.

Following that, they are often installed beneath a soft, manicured area such as a grass.

The septic tank will only be responsible for approximately half of the treatment work. The drain field will take care of the remainder, which is why it is critical that your septic tank drainage field be built and constructed appropriately.

Installing a drainage field for a septic tank

In addition to offering any service that our clients require for their septic systems, we take great delight in delivering septic tank drainage field unblocking, tank repair, and tank replacement. The following are some of the requirements that must be met in order to install or replace a septic tank, as well as to construct a drainage field for a septic tank:

  • It is necessary to conduct a test hole study in order to establish the appropriateness of the soil. An underground septic tank or drainage field is required for proper disposal of wastewater. Drainage fields may only be utilized in areas where the soil conditions are acceptable
  • Otherwise, they are ineffective. The use of clay soil for drainage fields is not recommended. It is necessary to examine the Building Regulations for reference borders. It is necessary to verify the Groundwater Protection Zone range established by the Environment Agency.

Photo of ASL Limited’s drainage field project taken in the summer of 2013.

Testing suitability

When we assess the feasibility of your soil for a septic tank drainage field, we begin by drilling a test hole to confirm that the property is acceptable. If the material is clay or something that is not porous, we will choose a different solution. If the ground is appropriate, we will then conduct a comprehensive percolation test on it to determine its suitability (conducted over two days). A saturated hole is used to estimate the infiltration rate into the earth by monitoring the length of time it takes for water to flow down the borehole.

Following receipt of the calculations, our engineer will be able to determine the length and breadth of the drainage fields that will be required.

Because there will be no additional treatment in drainage areas that are constantly moist or wet, they do not fare well.

It may also be essential to upgrade to a sewage treatment facility at some point.

Rules for new and existing discharges

The term “existing discharge” refers to a system that was established and began discharging wastewater before December 31, 2014, whereas the term “new discharge” refers to a system that was installed and began discharging effluent on or after January 1, 2015. In order to sell your home, you must have a system in place that does not discharge into a nearby watercourse. If you have an older, non-compliant system in place, you may be unable to sell your home. If you are purchasing or selling a house, it is highly recommended that you arrange for a home buyer’s survey to be performed.

An electrical and mechanical system is used to treat the liquid in a sewage treatment plant, which is in contrast to a septic tank (which employs land drainage).

To learn more about septic tanks and wastewater treatment plants, see our articles on septic tanks and wastewater treatment plants.

Instead, in order to comply with the Binding Rules, it is recommended that you upgrade your present system to a drainage field or that you apply for a permit so that the Environment Agency can examine the hazards associated with continuing to use your current system.

We service septic tanks and soakaways.

As a septic tank company, we have many years of expertise dealing with all types of septic tank issues, from unclogging sewage tank drainage fields and pumping septic tank chamber to building new septic tanks or replacing old ones that should no longer be utilized. If there is anything you require in terms of advice or services for septic tanks and drainage fields (or drainage fields), we have the necessary experience, equipment, and technology to complete the project to your satisfaction. Our goal is for you to be confident in your drains so that we can dispatch one or more of our highly trained and completely qualified engineers out to you to take care of any problems that are discovered in your septic tank or drainage fields.

Septic Tank Problems

As a septic tank company, we have many years of expertise dealing with all types of septic tank issues, from unclogging sewage tank drainage fields and pumping septic tank chamber to building new septic tanks or replacing old ones that are no longer in use. If there is anything you require in terms of advice or services for septic tanks and drainage fields (or drainage fields), we have the necessary experience, equipment, and technology to complete the project to your complete satisfaction. We also want you to be confident in your drains so that we can dispatch one or more of our highly trained and completely qualified engineers to your location to address any issues that may arise in your septic tank or drainage fields.

Allseptic tanksand theirsoakawayshave problems sooner or later.

It is common for these issues to arise during periods of heavy rain, with the septic tank overflowing, septic tank effluent emerging at ground level, leaking into ditches, or backing up the pipes being the result. These are some of the most frequent septic tank issues. The soakaway drainfield, rather than the septic tank itself, is responsible for the majority of septic tank issues and failures, which can occur with both brick and fibreglass tanks. When it comes to a septic tank soakaway drainfield, there is just one thing you can count on: it will fail!

Boreholes and soakaways are not permitted under the General Binding Rules of the Environmental Agency.

AVOID clicking on advertisements on the internet.

The replacement of all septic tanks whose effluent gets into ditches or streams, either intentionally or by accident, with sewage treatment plants must be completed by the first of January 2020, or BEFORE this date if the land is sold, whichever comes first.

According to our observations, this is the case for the vast majority of septic tank systems!

Signs of a failed septic tank soakaway problem:

  • Septic tank effluent surfacing on your property (as shown in the photo)
  • Noxious or offensive odors emanating from the septic tank or sewers
  • Effluent pollution of neighboring ditches or streams (see LEGISLATION)
  • Toilets flushing at a slow pace
  • Gurgling sounds coming from the sewers
  • A septic tank or soakaway drainfield that has experienced ground movement (dips)
  • Overflowing toilet
  • Overflowing washing machine connection
  • Overflowing dishwasher
  • When the sink empties, the water overflows into the shower or bath. Standing effluent can be seen in the drain inspection chambers of some homes. These should be completely devoid of content. Alternatively, you may look at our other images of sewerage disasters on sewage reportsor visit the following websites:

The reasons for septic tank and soakaway drainfield failure

Septic tanks must be emptied ONCE PER YEAR in order to function properly. Their sludge storage capacity is limited to 12 months, and if sludge begins to drain into the soakaway soil, it will quickly clog the air spaces (porosity) in the soil, preventing the effluent from soaking away. As a result, you will experience a soakaway failure, and the septic tank will overflow, clogging the system. The majority of septic tanks are in terrible condition, and I dread to think how many clients have informed me (after their system has collapsed!) that septic tanks never need to be emptied!

2.Depth of the septic tank soakaway drainfield

All septic tank soakaways must be built in the AEROBIC soil layer in order to be effective. This type of soil has oxygen in the air gaps between the particles and can only be found in the top metre of the soil. This is due to the fact that a foul water soakaway performs two functions: the first is to soak up the liquid, and the second is to cleanse the effluent and digest it through the employment of aerobic (oxygen breathing) soil bacteria. Aerobic bacteria have no detrimental effect on soil porosity.

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gravel bed beneath the pipe, it is in the ANAEROBIC soil layer, which means that the bacterial growth is anaerobic.

The absurdity of the situation is that most modern ‘onion’ shaped septic tanks come with outlet levels that are deeper than one metre as standard!

As stated in Section H of the Building Regulations 1.39, “Drainage fields should be built and constructed to provide continual aerobic contact between the liquid effluent and the subsoil,” and as stated in BS6297 2008, “The maximum depth of the soakaway pipe should not exceed 700mm.” For what reason do prominent manufacturers create septic tanks that do not meet regulatory requirements?

It is much worse when ‘Cowboy’ installers are hired to complete the job.

3. Nature of the soil and its effect on the soakaway performance

Normal soakaway drainfields will not be able to soak wastewater away into clay or clay-based soils because of their porous nature. Because of the poor porosity, soakaways frequently fail within the first 5 years of operation because the air gaps in the soakaways become clogged with the high amounts of suspended particles in the effluent, which are frequently greater than 1200mg/litre. In addition, this quantity of suspended particles may be found in poorly maintained sewage treatment facilities, and the same principle applies – you can contaminate your own soakaway!) In any case, even with a sandy soil, the high level of suspended particles and the black slime that forms during the decomposition eventually damage the porosity, although it may take 15 to 25 years in some cases.

Solids are ‘blasted’ into the soil’s air spaces, causing the soil porosity to decrease even more quickly and hastening the demise of your soakaway drainfield!

Additionally, after a soakaway failure has occurred, adding commercially available “friendly bacteria” sachets is a waste of time. Because there is no flow into the soakaway as a result, they are unable to do anything to restore the soil’s permeability.

4.Winter water table and its effect on the septic tank soakaway

It is possible that the winter water table will rise to levels higher than the septic tank’s outlet level, resulting in water from the soakaway being discharged back into the septic tank through the outflow line to the soakaway. One thing is certain: water will ALWAYS find its own level, no matter how deep it goes. Due to the fact that the septic tank fills with cleared effluent and settlement chambers mingle with it, when the water level lowers, the resultant effluent is full of particles, which subsequently clogs the soil porosity in the soakaway, this is the most common scenario.

Before purchasing a construction plot, always dig a Trial Site Assessment Hole to assess the level of the winter water table under the ground.

5.Deterioration of the septic tank

Because raw sewage is a very corrosive environment, many septic tanks’ internal divisions/fins/rods, and notably metal struts and bolts (in the case of certain ‘Onion’ septic tanks) and mortar joints (in the case of brick constructed septic tanks), among other components, degrade with time. The hydrogen sulfide gas produced by the decomposing sewage corrodes concrete tanks and causes them to fail. This results in the formation of sulfuric acid on the tank’s lids and walls, which disintegrates the concrete.

Make a mental note of how the concrete is disintegrating.

As soon as the septic tank is no longer capable of clarifying the sewage as a result of internal collapse, the quantity of suspended particles in the final effluent grows quickly, and soakaway failure happens in a very short period of time.

6.Sodium Binding in the soil

Sodium Binding is caused by an excess of sodium (salt) in soils containing small particles of silt or clay. A waterproof layer is generated around the soakaway trench as a consequence of the clay particles adhering together as a result of this process. Sodium may be found in a variety of products, including washing powder, detergents, perspiration, dishwashing tablets, water softeners, and the water used in vegetable preparation.

7. Another house joining the septic tank system

Drainage systems such as septic tanks and soakaways are intended to handle a specific volume of liquid each day. You will be unable to raise this amount without also expanding the capacity of the septic tank and soakaway to accommodate the increased volume.

8.Heavy Rain and its effect on the septic tank system

Drainage systems such as septic tanks and soakaways are designed to handle a specific volume of wastewater per day. In order to raise this capacity, the septic tank and soakaway must be expanded to accommodate the increase in size.

9. More people using the septic tank system

If you have purchased a property where only one or two people were previously utilizing the system and you now have a family of four, the volume of water entering the soakaway will have grown significantly. Although the previous owners may not have experienced any issues, this does not guarantee that you will not as well, as the soakaway may not be able to handle the increased daily flow.

The fact that a septic tank treatment system is installed is something to keep in mind when purchasing a home with one.

How to solve the septic tank soakaway failure problem

  • If you are not in a Groundwater Source Protection Zone and have adequate area (at least 100m2 of ground that is 15m from any building) and the appropriate soil type, you can completely replace your soakaway drainfield in a different portion of your garden. A winter water table that never reaches within a metre of the bottom of the soakaway, as well as no rock within one metre of the bottom of the soakaway, are also required. All of these are new regulations, and you must follow them to the letter. Unfortunately, over 70% of all sites fail one or more of these standards, and if this is the case, installing additional below-ground soakaways is out of the question. The use of our own copyrightedabove ground soakaways may be a possibility, but new soakaways are not inexpensive to purchase. Please see the link SEPTIC TANK SOAKAWAYS for a more in-depth discussion of these new regulations.
  • You have the option of scrapping the entire system and installing a full sewage treatment unit that can discharge to a ditch, stream, land drain, or other location providing it complies with the General Building Rules. The wastewater has been removed from your property, as has the difficulty of dealing with soakaways. If you have a ditch or other watercourse that is easily accessible, this is now the most affordable alternative available. You may learn more about VORTEX sewage treatment facility by visiting their website. You can purchase a ‘conversion’ kit to install inside your septic tank, but you must be aware that these ‘conversions’ are in violation of the Environment Agency’s General Binding Rules since they do not have and will not be able to get the necessary EN 12566 Certification. You will never be able to secure an exemption from the Environment Agency for these conversion kits, and in any event, they became unlawful on July 1, 2013, as a result of the Construction Products Directive. Septic tanks were never intended to be used as a sewage treatment unit in the first place. They have an insufficient number of chambers, as well as the incorrect arrangement of chambers, which are the incorrect size to accommodate the situation. It would be necessary to dig up your septic tank and ship it, together with the conversion kit, to an EN Test Center in Europe for performance testing in order to receive a Permit for one of these. The testing would cost around £30,000 and you would be issued the necessary EN 12566-3 Certificate
  • However, the testing would cost approximately £30,000. You may utilize your septic tank as the first settlement stage of a comprehensive three-stage sewage treatment facility. Installation of theSeptic Tank Conversionunit follows the installation of the septic tank and is linked to the output line. This unit will convert your system into a full sewage treatment unit

The FilterPod sewage treatment plant is the only plant in the United Kingdom that has received the necessary EN12566-6 Certification, and it is the only septic tank conversion unit that has been approved by the Environment Agency under the General Binding Rules. Be wary of certain providers and INSIST on seeing their EN12566-6 Certificate – they will not have one if you ask for one. The final effluent from an aerated septic tank conversion unit meets the same standards as the final effluent from a full-scale sewage treatment system.

Despite the fact that it has a larger capacity than a ‘all in one’ sewage treatment equipment, the septic tank may still survive for up to 12 months between emptyings.

  • Even if you have recently purchased a home that has an inoperable septic tank system, it is sometimes feasible to utilize the legal process to force the seller’s Solicitor to pay for the necessary repairs or replacement. It is also feasible to have your Buildings Insurance provider reimburse you for the whole cost of the new system. For further information, please see our sewage systems insurance website or call James Webb on 01759 369915.

*BOD (biological oxygen demand)*Suspended solids*Ammoniacal nitrogen *BOD (biological oxygen demand)

What is the Difference Between a Septic Tank and a Soakaway?

The date of this posting is October 31st, 2016. When it comes to disposing of surplus waste water, soakaways and septic tanks are both good options. The two, on the other hand, serve quite distinct objectives and are frequently utilized in conjunction to give the most effective wastewater treatment. To the general public, the two systems might appear to be extremely similar, making it difficult to distinguish between them and determine which system is the greatest fit for your needs. We’ve put up this guide to help you understand the distinctions between septic tanks and soakaways in order to assist you in getting to know the systems.

What is a septic tank and how does it work?

Septic tanks are used to collect effluent, as well as to store wastewater and solid waste, among other things. A septic tank relies on a pH balance and bacterial activity to break down solid waste, and once the tank is full, it will overflow into a drain field or, more commonly, a soakaway, which is linked to the drain field. Due to the fact that the tank is self-contained and can be installed underground, it is a perfect alternative to traditional sewage lines if your property is not linked to a public sewer system.

What is a soakaway and how does it work?

A soakaway is a drainage system that consists of a pit excavated in the ground and filled with rubble and coarse stones to collect rainwater. This permits surface water that might otherwise begin to pool to be absorbed back into the ground. When a soakaway is constructed, it is usually located away from the flooding region, and a pipe connecting that area to the soakaway is constructed in the form of a gutter or a drain. This method is particularly beneficial in built-up regions that are constructed of impermeable materials because it decreases the amount of pooling water that might cause flooding in the event of a storm.

If a septic tank is being utilized in an area where there isn’t enough vegetation to allow the septic tank to securely dispose of the wastewater in a drain field, a soakaway can aid in safely eliminating the waste.

Which system is best for my property?

Depending on the amount of land on your property, a septic tank with a linked soakaway may be the best option for you if you want to dispose of solid and liquid waste from your house or company in a natural and cost-effective manner. If, on the other hand, you’re wanting to redirect collecting rainfall or surface water off flat or impermeable surfaces, a soakaway is the best option for your situation. Wildon UK is a prominent provider of wastewater solutions in the United Kingdom, serving a wide range of applications including home, commercial, industrial, and agricultural.

For further information on any of our services, please get in touch with us right away and we would be pleased to assist you.

Farm Slurry Systems

Animal waste management systems are essential for helping your business develop and prosper because they allow you to take use of readily accessible resources. Farm slurry systems are the most efficient means of accomplishing this goal, and they can be installed quickly and easily. « Continue reading this post »

How long does a septic tank soakaway last?

The use of a septic tank is a common method of disposing of waste when you are not linked to a public sewage system. In order to improve the efficiency of this technology, a soakaway is frequently constructed to handle the effluent. A soakaway in conjunction with a septic tank is an effective way to handle waste, but like with any system, it is important to keep it in good working order. In reality, a soakaway has its limitations and may only be utilized under specific circumstances. At OMDI, we have extensive experience in the design and construction of septic tanks, as well as the construction of soakaways to accompany them.

How do septic tanks work?

Septic tanks are often built in the backyard or in a garden, away from a house or structure. It breaks down trash and separates solids from liquids by using bacteria as a catalyst. Using an effective drainage system, the effluent is then gently released into the surrounding ground. A soakaway is incorporated into the design at this point.

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What is a soakaway?

In its most basic definition, an asoakaway is a hole in the earth that is filled with rocks. A soakaway is a drainage system that allows wastewater from a septic tank to be effectively disposed of. It will be installed away from the septic tank and wastewater will be released into it. That wastewater will diffuse through the rocks and slowly escape into the surrounding ground.In more complicated terms, a soakaway is a drainage system that allows wastewater from a septic tank to be effectively disposed of.

They are particularly useful in regions where it would be impossible for the water to flow straight into the earth. The soakaway provides a gradual technique of diffusion, which prevents wastewater from collecting and puddling, as well as helping to avoid floods in the area.

How long does a soakaway last?

Septic tanks require frequent maintenance to ensure that they continue to operate efficiently. In order for the wastewater disposal system, which includes the soakaway, to continue to work, maintenance must be performed on a septic tank to remove the sludge that has built up. Every 12 months, septic tanks must be emptied and maintained to ensure that they are working properly. However, they should also be serviced if they begin to smell, since this may be the first indicator of a serious problem in the future.

If there are difficulties with the septic tank, you will discover them in the drainage field.

In order for a soakaway to function properly, it must be allowed to accumulate sludge and waste products before they obstruct effective drainage of wastewater.

When it comes to drainage systems, OMDI knows exactly how to set them up so that they endure for a long time.

Get your free quote today

If you’re thinking of installing a septic tank at your residence or place of business, OMDI can help you meet your goals and objectives. Get in touch with the professionals at OMDItoday to learn more about the planning of your septic tank and soakaway, as well as to obtain a free, no-obligation estimate. Please follow and like us on Facebook:

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A septic tank soakaway drainage field system fulfills two functions:- it serves as a septic tank soakaway drainage field system.

  • Additionally, it makes advantage of naturally occurring aerobic soil bacteria to clean up any remaining contaminants in the effluent. It disperses septic effluent into the soil without producing difficulties due to soil saturation and ‘Backing-up’ of the system
  • It is environmentally friendly
  • And it is cost-effective.

Over 60% of all sites in the UKFAILthe three mandatory tests required to install a septic tank soakaway. If you can’t have a soakaway drainage field, you can’t have aseptic tankand must consider using asewage treatment plantinstead.

The three tests are as follows:

  1. The location must not be located inside a Groundwater Source Protection Zone as defined by the Environment Agency. This is necessary to preserve the drinking water that has been extracted
  2. The site must pass the deepTrial Site Assessment. There should never be any groundwater (the water table) or rock inside one metre of the soakaway drain pipe. Hole Testand The soil on the site must pass the Percolation Tests and not be excessively sandy or heavy
  3. The site must be free of debris.

As previously stated, the Environment Agency has verified to us that DEEP BOREHOLE SOAKAWAY drilling since a technique of resolving drainfield concerns is NOT usually acceptable to them, nor are SOAKAWAY TUNNELS, CRATES, AND THE LIKE, as these are designed solely for rainfall soakaways. Keep an eye out for these kind of advertisements on the Internet and report them to Trading Standards!

If you pass the above tests, then the size of the soakaway drainage field will be dependant on the following factors,

1. The soil’s porosity is measured. 2. The size of the property (measured in terms of the number of beds) and the number of people who live in the community it serves. Septic tanks are only permitted for small-scale operations with a workforce of up to around 15 people, according to the Environmental Agency. Drainfield soakaways are made with ditches filled with clean washed stone and fed by solid perforated drainage pipe in a contemporary septic tank system drainfield. There are several ditches that are interconnected and have a grid-like pattern, similar to that of an oven grid tray.

Percolation tests were most likely not performed, which resulted in the results being insufficient and undersized in the first place.

You should empty your tank on a regular basis because if you do not, suspended particles from the tank will be driven down your drains and into your soakaway, blocking the pipes and polluting the soil with a black, slimy biomatt, rendering your drainfield ineffective.

When your tank fills to a level that exceeds the level of the exit pipe, especially after a strong rainstorm, this is a sure indicator that something is going wrong. If the water level in the septic tank begins to increase, it is likely that the drainage in the drainfield has been compromised.

Rules and Regulations for Septic and Foul Drainage Soakaway Drainfields

The drainfield should be located at a minimum of the following distances:

  • Buildings must be 15 metres apart
  • Boundaries must be 2 metres apart
  • Water abstraction points (wells, springs, bore holes) must be 50 metres apart
  • Watercourses (ditches, streams, rivers) must be 10 metres apart. There should be no access roads, driveways, pathways, buildings, or other structures in the drainfield area. If it is in a field, tractors are not permitted to drive over it
  • Otherwise, it is authorized. Neither water nor electric cables nor pipes should be located within the drainfield area. The bedrock or water table should never be more than 1.2 metres away from the drainfield pipes at any point in time.

For any questions concerning your septic tank soakaway system, please contact us on 01759 369915. We can usually organise a free assessment and diagnostic of the degree of the problem with your soakaway system. Accidental Damage coverage on your building insurance policy may allow us to replace your sewage treatment system (including septic tank and soakaway drainfield) at no cost to you in certain circumstances.

Septic Tank Versus Soakaway

If you’re constructing a new home and don’t have access to the city’s sewage system, or if you’re searching for a more environmentally responsible approach to recycle your used water, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to deal with any surplus waste generated during the construction process. Both septic tanks and soakaways are excellent wastewater treatment options, and while they serve slightly distinct functions, a combination of the two is frequently the most effective wastewater treatment solution.

This will help you pick the system that will best fit your needs and save you money.

What is it and how does it work?

Essentially, a septic tank is a self-contained system of tanks that is used to collect effluent as well as solid waste and wastewater for storage purposes. In the first tank, bacterial activity breaks down solid waste, allowing it to be recycled. Afterwards, the partially treated effluent passes into the second chamber, where it is subjected to additional natural biological action. It is then held within the tank until it overflows into either a drainage field or a soakaway, where microorganisms in the soil will further decompose the waste and release it into the environment.

When it is not possible to connect a property to a centralized sewer system, this sort of system is frequently employed in rural locations.

What about a soakaway?

Instead of a tank, a soakaway is just a pit in the ground that has been filled with coarse stones and debris. This is in contrast to the use of an aseptic tank. The mix of stones and debris allows surface water to dissipate into the ground rather than remaining on top of the surface. An underground soakaway may be positioned away from any regions of flooding, but it will be connected to the flooding area by a pipe that serves the same purpose as a gutter or drain between the flooding area and the soakaway.

A soakaway system can be used to regulate waste water on its own, or it can be used in conjunction with a septic tank in situations where there isn’t enough space for a drainage field to be installed. The soakaway will allow the trash to be removed in a safe and secure manner.

The difference between a sewage water soakaway and a surface water soakaway

Another consideration is that a soakaway for waste water is not the same as a soakaway for storm water run-off. However, unlike an excess rain or surface water soakaway, a sewage soakaway not only allows liquid from the septic tank to disperse into the ground, but it also uses naturally occurring aerobic bacteria to treat effluent in order to remove any solids suspended within the liquid as well as bacteria and viruses from the effluent. It also eliminates any nitrogen and phosphorus that may be present in the solution.

Should you choose a septic tank or a soakaway?

Septic tank installation on your property provides an environmentally friendly and cost-effective method of disposing of solid and liquid waste. Depending on the nature of property around your septic tank, you may also be required to attach a sewage soakaway to handle the effluent generated by the tank. If, on the other hand, you have rainwater or surface water gathering on a flat or impermeable surface on your property, constructing a soakaway will be beneficial to you.

How Does a Septic Tank Work?

Mr. Fix-It-Up-For-The-Family You may save a lot of money if you understand how a sewage treatment system works—and what can go wrong—so that you can handle your own septic system maintenance.

How does a septic tank work?

Pumping the tank on a regular basis eliminates sludge and scum, which helps to keep a septic system in good working order. It is possible for a well-designed and well built septic system to last for decades, or it might collapse in a matter of years. It is entirely up to you as long as you can answer the question of how do septic tanks function. Healthy septic systems are very inexpensive to maintain, but digging up and replacing a septic system that has completely collapsed may easily cost tens of thousands in labor and material costs.

It’s critical to understand how a septic tank works in order to maintain one.

Let’s take a look below ground and observe what happens in a properly operating septic system, shall we?

Understand that a septic system is a cafeteria for bacteria

Bacteria are responsible for the proper operation of a septic system. They decompose garbage, resulting in water that is clean enough to safely trickle down into the earth’s surface. The entire system is set up to keep bacteria healthy and busy at all times. Some of them reside in the tank, but the majority of them are found in the drain field. 1. The septic tank is the final destination for all waste. 2. The majority of the tank is filled with watery waste, referred to as “effluent.” Anaerobic bacteria begin to break down the organic matter in the effluent as soon as it enters the system.

  • A layer of sludge settles to the bottom of the container.
  • 4.
  • Scum is mostly constituted of fats, greases, and oils, among other substances.
  • Grease and oils float to the surface of the water.
  • (5) A filter stops the majority of particles from reaching the exit pipe.
  • The effluent is discharged into the drain field.
  • Effluent is allowed to leak into the surrounding gravel because of holes in the drain septic field pipe.

When gravel is used to surround pipes, water can run into the soil and oxygen can reach germs. The garbage is completely decomposed by aerobic bacteria found in gravel and dirt. 9. Potable water seeps into the groundwater and aquifer system from the surface.

Septic Tank Clean Out: Don’t abuse the system

Septic systems that have been correctly planned and constructed require just occasional ‘pumping’ to remove the sludge and scum that has built up inside the tank. However, if you don’t understand how a septic tank works, you may unintentionally hurt or even destroy the system.

  • Septic systems that have been correctly planned and constructed require just occasional ‘pumping’ to eliminate the sludge and scum that has built up within the tank. It is possible, however, to do harm to or even destroy a septic tank if you are not familiar with how the system functions.

Get your tank pumped…

Your tank must be emptied on a regular basis by a professional. Pumping eliminates the accumulation of sludge and scum that has accumulated in the tank, which has caused the bacterial action to be slowed. If you have a large tank, it may be necessary to pump it once a year; but, depending on the size of your tank and the quantity of waste you send through the system, you may go two or three years between pumpings. Inquire with your inspector about an approximate guideline for how frequently your tank should be pumped.

…but don’t hire a pumper until you need it

Inspections and pumping should be performed on a regular basis. However, if you’re not afraid of getting your hands dirty, you may verify the sludge level yourself with a gadget known as The Sludge Judge. It ranges in price from $100 to $125 and is commonly accessible on the internet. Once you’ve verified that your tank is one-third full with sludge, you should contact a professional to come out and pump it out completely.

Install an effluent filter in your septic system

Garbage from your home accumulates into three distinct strata. The septic filter is responsible for preventing blockage of the drain field pipes.

See also:  How Much Does It Cost For Septic Tank Pumping Cumberland Va? (Question)

Septic tank filter close-up

The septic tank filter is responsible for capturing suspended particles that may otherwise block the drain field pipes. Obtain an effluent filter for your tank from your contractor and place it on the outflow pipe of your tank. (It will most likely cost between $50 and $100, plus labor.) This device, which helps to prevent sediments from entering the drain field, will need to be cleaned out on a regular basis by a contractor to maintain its effectiveness.

Solution for a clogged septic system

If your septic system becomes clogged and you find yourself having to clean the filter on a regular basis, you might be tempted to simply remove the filter altogether. Hold on to it. Solids, wastewater, and scum are separated into three levels in septic tanks, which allows them to function properly (see illustration above). Solids sink to the bottom of the container, where microbes breakdown them. The scum, which is made up of trash that is lighter than water, rises to the surface. In the drainage field, the middle layer of effluent leaves the tank and travels through an underground network of perforated pipes to the drainage field.

  • Keep the effluent filter in place since it is required by your state’s health law.
  • Waste particles might flow through the filter and clog the perforated pipes if the filter is not used.
  • Your filter, on the other hand, should not require cleaning every six months.
  • A good chance is high that you’re flushing filter-clogging things down the toilet, such as grease, fat, or food scraps.
  • A garbage disposal will not be able to break down food particles sufficiently to allow them to flow through the septic tank filtration system.
  • Plastic items, disposable diapers, paper towels, nonbiodegradable goods, and tobacco products will clog the system if they are flushed through it.

For additional information on what should and should not be flushed down the toilet, contact your local health authority. More information on removing lint from your laundry may be found here.

Get an inspection

Following a comprehensive first check performed by an expert, regular inspections will cost less than $100 each inspection for the next year. Your professional will be able to inform you how often you should get your system inspected as well as how a septic tank functions. As straightforward as a septic system appears, determining its overall condition necessitates the services of a professional. There are a plethora of contractors who would gladly pump the sludge out of your tank, but many, in my experience, are unable to explain how a septic system works or how it should be maintained.

A certification scheme for septic contractors has been established in certain states; check with your state’s Secretary of State’s office to see whether yours is one of them.

Also, a qualified inspector will be able to tell you whether or not your tank is large enough to accommodate your household’s needs, as well as the maximum amount of water that can be passed through it in a single day.

As you learn more about how a septic tank works, your professional should be able to tell you whether or not your system will benefit from this treatment.

Alternatives to a new drain field

If an examination or a sewage backup indicate that your drain field is in need of replacement, the only option is to replace it completely. As a result, it’s important to talk with a contractor about other possibilities before proceeding with the project.

  • Pipes should be cleaned. A rotating pressure washer, used by a contractor, may be used to clean out the drain septic field pipes. The cost of “jetting” the pipes is generally around $200. Chemicals should be used to clean the system. A commercial solution (not a home-made one) that enhances the quantity of oxygen in the drain field should be discussed with your contractor before installing your new system. Septic-Scrub is a product that I suggest. A normal treatment will cost between $500 and $1,000. Make the soil more pliable. The practice of “terra-lifting,” which involves pumping high-pressure air into several spots surrounding the drain field, is authorized in some regions. Some contractors use it to shatter compacted dirt around the pipes. Depending on the circumstances, this might cost less than $1,000 or as much as $4,000 or more.

Protect your drain septic field from lint

When this device is in place, it inhibits lint from entering the system, especially synthetic fibers that bacteria are unable to digest. One of these filters, which I’ve designed and termed theSeptic Protector, was invented by me. An additional filter is included in the price of around $150 plus delivery. Learn more about how to filter out laundry lint in this article.

Don’t overload the septic system

Reduce the amount of water you use. The volume of water that flows into your tank, particularly over a short period of time, can be reduced to avoid untreated waste from being flushed into your drain field. Replace outdated toilets with low-flow ones, install low-flow showerheads, and, perhaps most importantly, wash laundry throughout the week rather than just on Saturday mornings to save water.

Meet the Expert

Septic systems, according to Jim vonMeier, are the solution to America’s water deficit because they supply cleaned water to depleted aquifers, according to vonMeier. He travels the country lobbying for septic systems, giving lectures, and giving testimony. For septic system inquiries, as well as information on the operation of the septic tank, contact him by email.

What is a Soakaway? We explain everything

There are a variety of elements that can have an impact on the design, structure, and operation of wastewater soakaways, including:


There are rules and regulations in existence regarding wastewater soakaways, which are primarily intended to safeguard the environment from contamination. You may learn more about septic tank regulations in our Guide to Regulations, but the most important thing to remember is that a septic tank should only discharge to a drainage field unless a permission has been obtained for some other form of soakaway arrangement. A sewage treatment facility may discharge directly into a watercourse or onto a drainage field; however, any other sort of soakaway system would necessitate the obtaining of a permit as well.

Ground conditions

It is possible for ground conditions of a property to vary over time, notably the presence or absence of underground water (also known as the water table). As a result, the drainage field or soakaway’s ability to operate properly may be impaired, resulting in issues.

Usage of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant

When using a septic tank or sewage treatment plant, it is critical to operate the tank as carefully as possible. This will guarantee that you receive the most number of years of service out of your soakaway or drainage field. Take a look at our post on things you should and should not flush down your toilet.

Percolation tests

An apercolation test must be performed on a property prior to the design and installation of any drainage field or soakaway system on the land. In order to determine the appropriateness of the ground conditions and the needed size of any drainage field, it is necessary to conduct a percolation test.

Damage to the tank can cause problems for the soakaway

Wastewater treatment facilities and septic tanks are meant to prevent solid waste from departing a holding tank and making its way into a drainage field or soakaway. The damage to the tank may result in solid waste particles becoming trapped in the soakaway, which will cause the drainage system to overflow. If you have reason to believe that damage to your septic tank has occurred, it is critical that you get it examined as soon as possible.

Solve Septic Tank Soakaway Problems

The soakaway begins to fill up from the first day, and the FOG used in cooking is not broken down by anaerobic bacteria, which is a good thing. Soakaways begin to obstruct from the very first day. After a while, the earth becomes completely sealed, and water can no longer escape. Whenever there is a backup of water in the Septic Tank, to the point where the water level rises past the tee on the output pipe, the FOG, which constitutes the majority of the floating solides, instead of being held, escapes!

The soakaway will be unfit for any use very quickly.

Septic Tank Emptying

The settlement zone refers to the water that exists between the floating solids and the sinking solids in a body of water. This should be approximately one metre deep to allow for the fine particles to settle to the bottom of the container. In a tank with floating solids accumulating at the top of the tank and sinking solids accumulating at the bottom, it is obvious that the zone between them grows narrower, resulting in the water moving through the tank more quickly.

Solids do not have time to settle out as a result of increasing the rate of flow in the system. Essentially, this implies that raw sewage is dumped into the soakaway! In order to prevent this, the Septic Tank should be drained once a year.

About Septic Tanks

A septic tank is a tank in the ground that partially cleanses raw sewage before the unclean water is sent into a soakaway for disposal. For many years, septic tanks served as the primary method of removing waste from the environment. Despite the fact that the effluent should be directed to a soakaway, it occasionally finds its way into the river system (including ditches). Environmental regulations have changed recently, therefore it is critical to verify that your septic tank is up to date with these changes.

  1. In the earth, a Septic Tank is a tank that partially processes raw sewage before the unclean water is sent into a soakaway. Sewage treatment was traditionally done in Septic Tanks for many years. It is unlawful to discharge wastewater into a river system, even though it is supposed to be done so (including ditches). Due to recent changes in environmental regulations, it is critical to ensure that your septic tank meets all current requirements. The following are the functions of a sewage treatment plant:

There is an assumption that the sinking solids will settle at the bottom of the container and the floating solids will float on top. Fats, oils, and greases make up the majority of the floating solids (FOG).

  1. For the same reason, we have a comparable T-shaped outlet pipe to prevent the floating solids from leaving.

If the level of water in the soakaway rises above the top of this T pipe, the floating solids will be able to escape via the pipe.


The man who is performing the desludging may accidentally break the Tee on the Outlet pipe, which will result in all of the floating solids, including FOG, flowing out into the soakaway once the Septic Tank is full, which is normally within a few days following the break. No one notices, but the soakaway is now forced to deal with the most toxic portion of the organic debris. It is necessary to have a Tee on the Inlet pipe that is about 600mm long in order to send all solids down into the area of the tank that is farthest from the Outlet pipe.

Sewage Treatment Plant or Septic Tank?

In the event that your septic tank system fails, what are your alternatives?

  1. Replace the current soakaway
  2. Construct a pump station, which will pump the wastewater to a shallower soakaway
  3. And complete the project. It is possible to convert an existing septic tank into a sewage treatment plant. In lieu of the septic tank, install a sewage treatment plant and a soakaway
  4. And Install a Sewage Treatment Plant and pump the effluent out to a shallow soakaway
  5. Install a Sewage Treatment Plant and pump the effluent out to a ditch. Replace it with a Sewage Treatment Plant, and the sewage will just flow into a ditch.

Having a product that is effective is a valuable investment over the long run, says the author. There are a lot of elements to take into consideration, including:

  • (Population Equivalent) The number of persons that are currently enrolled in the system whether or not you need to use a pump whether or if there is enough room and access available for the installation
  • The work should be carried out by British Water engineers who are competent in their field.

Septic Tank

(Population Equivalent) The total number of persons who are on the system. need to use a pump in this case when it comes to installation space and access, how much is available It is recommended that British Water engineers with appropriate qualifications carry out the job.

Sewage Treatment Plant

For the treatment of the wastewater from your property, a sewage treatment plant is an excellent solution. We provide goods for both large and small structures, as well as anything in between.


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