Can I use rubble for a soakaway? – Lets explain

A soakaway is a SUDS (sustainable drainage system) compliant option that allows you to reduce surface water run off and collect water from guttering and drains in periods of heavy rainfall. This system is installed in the ground ready to provide a way to redistribute excess water away from the surface back into the surrounding ground over time.  So that in heavy rain events water pooling or flooding risk is decreased.


Of course a soakaway system just needs to be an area of storage below ground to help surface water to be absorbed and removed in the event of heavy rainfall. Piles of rubble and stone can be used to make this type of area.


Here’s why that might not be the best way to go:

  • Rubble and stone are not clean and particles of grit will not help the capacity or longevity of your soakaway.
  • Can you calculate the load bearing of the installed rubble if the area above needs to be used?
  • It is expected that you will check on a rubble soakaway monthly to be sure it is working, how feasible is this?
  • If you need to attach pipework to further enhance your soakaway how will it fit with the irregular rubble and will pipework become clogged?
  • How can you be sure that you can drain away the amount of water needed?
  • Stone is heavy and hard to transport.

A soakaway crate system on the other hand is an easy and simple way to negate some issues surrounding rubble systems.

  1. Soakaway crates are tested for loading and for longevity
  2. Crates have a set capacity that can easily be scaled up and down to suit requirements
  3. Crates are easy to transport and handle
  4. Crates have a handy area for pipework so they can be connected easily and securely
  5. Crates are an easy shape to wrap with geotextile to prevent dirt and debris making the soakaway ineffective or fail.
  6. Crates easily lock together to create a regular shape that can be installed quickly as one piece.

SUDs are a very important feature in reducing surface run off and flooding events it may be that an alternative system will work for your excess water. This could take the form of reducing impermeable surfaces with a paving grid driveway or introducing an area of lawn.

Please note not all soils are suitable for soakaway systems using rubble or crates and percolation tests must be done to check suitability. Also requirements for  a soakaway system is also subject to restrictions these can differ from area to area please check with local council information.

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