Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Learn something new every day.

I saw a man digging a hole in the middle of his front lawn today, and it made me think of this...



Me being nosey, I stopped to ask what he was doing. The hole was full of water and he was using a bucket to scoop it out. Perhaps he was making a pond, or maybe not if he was emptying it. He pulled an old tyre out, then a few bricks. Strange, why would somebody bury an old tyre in a front garden. He said it was where the builders got rid of rubbish when they had finished building the house.

His neighbour was also interested in this hole. There was piles of mud stacked up on his lawn making a right mess. The neighbour was emptying the buckets of water on the edge of the lawn. The man kneeling at the hole was up to his elbows in thick sludge, all brown and slimey, he must have had cold hands doing that. A small spade lay besides him and he picked it up and had another stab at the sodden earth at the bottom of the hole. Our village is built on clay so it was hard going for him.

The neighbour went to the downpipe at the corner of the house, from which a section had been cut away and disconnected where it went into the ground. He had a poke around with a yellow rod, lo and behold, the rod came out into the hole. Eureka! The pipework was unblocked. I was intrigued that the rain water from the roof drained into this hole in the middle of the front lawn. I asked why it didn't go into the main drains to the house.

Aha, the house has a soakaway, I was told, so that's it. I'd heard about these things but didn't know how they worked. You learn something new every day. The water that leaves a property either all goes down the main drain into the sewers, or the rain water goes off in a different direction and eventualy into the ground. The soakaway at this particular house wasn't working properly because there wasn't enough of the correct drainage materials in the hole. The water couldn't soak through the clay. Now the man has to dig deeper, and then refill with different grades of aggregate so that the water can run through it and  and soak downwards past the clay, rather than getting stuck, backing up and flooding the front garden. Fascinating stuff.

When I got home I did some research, because I know that if you have a soakaway you can get a reduction on your water bill. There is lots of information out there if you googlie 'soakaway'. I wondered if I had one. Alas, I don't think I do, although I'm not altogether certain. I have to go out tomorrow and look for a small manhole cover, lift it up. Then get up on the roof and pour some coloured water down the down pipe and see if it comes out in the hole. I think I need some assistance to do this as I don't have a ladder long enough. I could cut a hole in the downpipe a bit lower down where I could reach it. I might do that. Or I might ask my neighbours to see if any of them know about soakaways, and if we have one or not. Yes, that would be easier. Toodle pip.

18 comments:

  1. All our water goes into the ground,Mother Nature does her stuff and we then get water from the well.
    Jane x

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  2. Soakaway sounds lik a French swale. "French swale is not a kinky sex act. I would think the builder could be held liable for burying all that in the yard.

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  3. I knew about soakaways when I was a child ... growing up in the middle of nowhere its all we had in the way of drains. I remember helping my Dad build one.
    I must have had a very 'rounded' education ...haha.

    Vicky x

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  4. Hi Ilona I work in social housing and we once uncovered a car (it was in many seperate pieces!) buried in the rear garden of one of our empty properties! it was in an area where they used to keep their horse in the lounge! (believe me I am not joking - they really did keep the horse in the house - I've seen it!) so a soak away's much better xxx

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  5. There used to be quite a large discount for having a soakaway. Alas, the water board got wise to it and adjusted the allowance!

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  6. That's really interesting Ilona. It's great what you can find out about things. I love your pic of the person looking down the hole..

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  7. Hi dibble. That is Alice, looking down the rabbit hole :o)

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  8. In my area of USA we call them French Drains and we are not allowed to connect to the sewer lines with the run-off from our gutters.

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  9. We have a soakaway, only as it's now over 50 years old it doesn't soak-away at all :o( Our garden is constantly getting flooded. I'm all for paying extra water rates and re-jigging the drain pipe to run into the sewers!
    Rose H

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  10. they're called "swales," here in Canada. I am like Jane and we have a well and all our water goes back into the earth, and all sewage goes into a septic tank.

    Gill in Canada

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  11. Please...Do not go on the roof. Pay someone to do this, someone who does this work all the time. I recently met two folks who fell off ladders and were badly injured...and they were not that high on the ladders. I enjoy your blog and do not want to read that you have been injured.

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    1. well, I searched this post and found no ladders mentioned. So, I can only assume you fell down the rabbit hole after tea or purple pills.

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    2. My sister had a neighbor whose husband was up on the roof. She went looking for him when his lunch was ready and he hadn't come down. Seems he had died up there. He didn't even need to fall off. Roofs are very dangerous.

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  12. We had a soakaway installed a while ago but the people who did the work did not do it correctly either. We have clay soil too and the soakaway just fills up rather than, well, soaking away.

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    1. Was there a guarantee with the work? Are they still trading? Can you take photographs of the wet ground? Can you get them to come back and do the job right?

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  13. I thought of a soakaway as our ground is clay but apparently they need to be a certain distance from the house. I can't remember what it is but have a feeling we haven't got the room. My garden gets water lying at one spot and I was thinking of just scooping that area out, lining it with plastic and then lots of pebbles, then the water can go there instead of the soil and just evaporate when it stops raining.

    I wonder if it might cost you more to get one done than you would actually save?

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  14. Hi Campfire. here is a useful link on how to build one.

    http://www.diydoctor.org.uk/projects/frenchdrains.htm

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  15. We call them French Drains. But we don't call toilets "loos", which is much prettier. I guess you win some, lose some.

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