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  1. #1
    Go West!! PaulS's Avatar
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    Default soak well installation

    Hi as you can see i am in Perth. Didn't know what a soak well was until I moved here.

    One of my downpipes needs a soak well installed. (I think) Is it as simple as just digging a hole and placing the soak well in the hole and connecting the down pipe to it?

    Anyone got any tips?

    What is better plastic of Conrete?

    How do you work out the size needed? (this must depend on rainfall, roof catchment size, & ???)

    thanks
    paul
    "Looking west with the land behind me as the sun tracks down to the sea, I have my bearings" Tim Winton

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    Golden Member Driver's Avatar
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    G'day Paul

    Welcome to WA - the world's biggest sandpit! You say that one of your downpipes needs a soakwell installed. The normal position in Perth is that all of your downpipes would need a soakwell. Is this just one that has been left out when the house was built and all the others have them?

    To answer some of your questions

    It is that simple - yes. Dig the hole, place the soakwell in it, connect the downpipe (you can buy all the relevant fittings from hardware stores), place a paving slab on top and bury the whole lot in sand. You've probably noticed that supply of sand won't be a problem!

    Plastic downpipes are normally adequate. Shop around a bit. You'll find that different outlets (even Bunnies!) offer deals on soakwell plus paving slab for around $20 -$25. (The concrete soakwells are stronger but, frankly, they're not placed under great stress, being circular and buried in sand, the plastic ones do the job).

    They tend to come in a standard size. You need one for every downpipe. You're right about the roof catchment size etc. This determines the number of downpipes required. I don't have the formula immediately available but I've got it buried somewhere amongst some paperwork. If I can find it, I'll post it later on.

    We do tend to get some fierce rainstorms in Perth. When they happen, your downpipes and soakwells won't cope. I've seen water spewing back out of the connection up to a foot high. In those conditions, no soakwell will cope. This means you need to be careful about the positioning. It's not a good idea to place one anywhere close to a doorway unless the door's threshold is significantly higher than the point where the downpipe disappears below ground level.

    Hope this helps.

    Col

  3. #3
    A Member of the Holy Trinity journeyman Mick's Avatar
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    Just out of interest's sake, do all downpipes go into soakwells over there? Are you not allowed to run stormwater pipes out to the road gutters? This soakwell business definitely wouldn't work here, we had over a metre of rain week before last.

    Mick

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    Paul.
    DAMHIK.
    Calculate the total volume of the soakwell you need (the suppliers have info as the that) then double it.
    Paddling in 50 mm of water across the verandah to get to the garage and sweeping 25 mm of water out of the workshop makes you realise that the soakwells really aren't too expensive.

    Mick.
    Where I live, in Albany WA, it is illegal to run water from the roof into street drains or sewers. Mind you, 1000 mm is more than the average rainfall per annum down here.

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    Go West!! PaulS's Avatar
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    Thanks Col, Robert

    The house we moved into 2 years ago has some soak wells but not on all the down pipes.

    Robert excuse my ignorance but what does DAMHIK mean/stand for?

    Col, My first thought was to go for concrete, but that may just be my civil engineering training, If they were pretty close to the surface and weren't too tall, plastic would be ok, but are they prone to collapsing?

    Paul
    "Looking west with the land behind me as the sun tracks down to the sea, I have my bearings" Tim Winton

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    Member Robert WA's Avatar
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    Paul.
    "Don't ask me how I know."

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    Paul

    The plastic soakwells I installed in my place 16 years ago haven't collapsed and I don't expect that they will. As I said, they are circular in section and they are supported all round their perimeter by sand. This makes the completed structure pretty strong. I was trained as a structural engineer, incidentally. That explains my confidence in plastic structures - just as your training as a civil engineer explains your leaning towards concrete. (For the non-engineers I should tell you that there are a couple of really bad engineer's in-jokes in that lot!)

    You know what they say - any idiot can design a bridge that works. The trick is to design one that only just works!

    If you bury the soakwells so that the paving slab top is about 450mm below the surface in pedestrian-traffic only areas you really shouldn't have a problem.

    Mick - what Robert says about running stormwater into roads and sewers applies all over WA. In this very dry place, the smart thing to do would be to plumb it all into rainwater storage tanks, of course. That's what happens in the bush but we spoiled townies don't do it so we let a lot of good quality water go to waste. I reckon that water restrictions are going to become a permanent feature of life in Perth sooner rather than later. That's when we'll have to seriously re-consider the issue of collecting rainwater.

    Col

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    Paul

    There can be a bit more to this topic than you probably imagined and it is right up my ally, well kinda sort of anyway.

    DAMHIK either! Well okay, a townhouse I had built flooded a couple of years ago because the soak wells were inadequate! The tenant was not impressed! :mad:

    So before fixing the problem I did some research. I am also in the process of replacing the slotted drain (or ag-pipe or whatever the crap is called - I WOULDN'T EVEN THINK ABOUT USING IT) that was used in my current house with concrete soak wells. There is some info from some of the councils which can be easily found by looking up "soak wells in WA" on Google.

    Suppliers generally advised 1 x 600mm X 600mm soak well per downpipe. I prefer the more scientific approach (as recommended by the councils) which is 1 cubic metre of soak well per 65-80 square metres of catchment or 12.5 litres of soak well per square metre of catchment. I try to position them at least 1.5m away from the house or other structures.

    All the other advice from Col and Robert is spot-on except I disagree with using plastic. Now just to add to the engineer bit, I'm a Mining Engineer so I'm used to digging holes in the ground - although not in sand! I have heard of plenty of plastic soak wells collapsing and for the slight cost saving I won't touch them. If you shop around concrete is not much more expensive.

    Couple of other points:
    I have a big block with vehicle access all round so I use heavy duty (or traffic) concrete lids in any position they are likely to have vehicles run over them.
    Also, I backfill around the soak well with blue metal - which increases their capacity and helps stop sand washing back in to them.

    Probably more than you wanted to know - but I have been burnt once so now I do them properly.

    Good luck
    Geoff

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    A Member of the Holy Trinity journeyman Mick's Avatar
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    Just wondering what the reasoning is behind the use of soak wells rather than discharging to the gutters which eventually feed into stormwater drains/creeks/rivers/ocean. Urban development tends to stuff up the environment pretty big time but I think that having stormwater take as natural a path as possible would be better for the environment. I release that this may not have been in the forefront of people's minds when these laws were written. I'm also guessing that perhaps over there there aren't too may natural watercourses and that when it rains (which isn't that often by the sounds of things) water just tends to lie where it falls before soaking into the ground. But surely there must be some areas that have soil types that are not so well drained. If you are situated right next to a natural watercourse are you still not allowed to discharge stormwater into it, even though that's where the water would end up if your house roof was not there to catch it? And wouldn't it make more sense to have a single large rubble drain fed by all the downpipes (not thinking for one moment that laws always have to make sense).

    Puzzled:confused: :confused:
    Mick

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    Member Robert WA's Avatar
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    Mick.

    You have asked a question that derives from logic and common sense. That is entirely the wrong way to approach matters of government in WA.

    The answer to the question is, probably, that it was the way things were 150 years ago and one must not make hasty changes.

    Having said that, why would anyone live anywhere else than in WA?

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    Mick,

    I would have thought that a soakwell would be a more natural path given the reasons you stated yourself.

    If the house were not there, the water would soak directly into the ground. Surely the next best approximation with a house would be to distribute the water about the house dumping into soak wells spread about it?

    Using stormwater pipes, ultimately feeding directly into creeks is definately not natural. I take witness to the storms in Melbourne before Christmas where usual calm creeks were turned into raging torrents, rising some 6+ metres simply due to the direct feed of storm water into these creeks. The evidence of these flood waters is still present along parts of the Merri Creek bicycle path around Bell Street area.

    But Perth is so sandy that yes it is hard to believe there is any natural water courses as water literally just disappears from the surface directly down!

    These soak wells are simply a sandy bottom which the water soaks into, not a massive bore directly into the water table, which is another thing over on Perth where the water is lifted up through bores for gardens - now that causes problems as the water table becomes depleted...
    Ray

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    Mick

    Reckon also, as with most things, it probably comes down largely to a cost thing.

    As mentioned Perth tends to be sandy and has little in the way of natural watercourses etc. Local councils already have to take care of the stormwater runoff from roads etc for which they generally build ugly big surface soaks. So, when it comes to private land the easiest and cheapest thing is - "all stormwater must be contained within that land". How easy and cheap is that!

    Oh, don't worry about the fact that they created a high density housing area zoned R60 where up to 75% of the block can be covered by buildings. I reckon it is almost physically impossible to dispose of 100% of your stormwater in less than 25% of the land area during some of the heavy storms we get. Net result - someone gets wet! :mad:

    Geoff

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    A Member of the Holy Trinity journeyman Mick's Avatar
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    Ray,
    Actually round here discharging to a watercourse is more natural but then it's a matter of soil types and rainfall. I'm right near the river and on the only bit of non clay soil for miles around (alluvial silt) but up here almost everywhere is clay. Even after months of rain you can dig down a few inches and it's bone dry. So when you get 150mm of rainfall in two hours it just finds the most direct path to the nearest watercourse. During a recent deluge (over 1M in a week) I had a stream of water over a metre wide and about 200mm deep running down the middle of my yard. So it looks like our respective local legislators are perhaps not that silly and are tailoring laws to suit conditions.

    Mick

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    Senior Member MrFixIt's Avatar
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    Default Re: soak well installation

    Originally posted by PaulS
    Hi as you can see i am in Perth. Didn't know what a soak well was until I moved here.

    One of my downpipes needs a soak well installed. (I think) Is it as simple as just digging a hole and placing the soak well in the hole and connecting the down pipe to it?

    More or less javascript:smilie('')

    Anyone got any tips?

    Yes dig the hole at least 200mm larger in diameter than the soakwell. Place the soakwell in the middle of the hole and fill the surrounding 100mm space with bluemetal. This improves the efficiency of the soakwell and helps prevent any sand from being "washed in" by the water leeching out. Place at least 50mm of bluemetal in the bottom of the soakwell again for efficiency, it helps soak the water over a larger area instead of it just forming a dip in the path of the water flow.

    What is better plastic of Conrete?

    I prefer concrete - partly just a psychological thing - though a necessity if the area is to be driven over.

    How do you work out the size needed? (this must depend on rainfall, roof catchment size, & ???)

    There probably is a formula but in general you can't really go too big. I'd start with a 900mm unit myself, though your circumstances may justify more and smaller units.


    thanks
    paul



    Regards

    Peter

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    Go West!! PaulS's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your help
    Now comes the hard work or digging the hole, lucky its just sand! Although there are sewer pipes (and other services, phone, electricity... now that i think about it) going past where it must go which may complicate things a little.
    "Looking west with the land behind me as the sun tracks down to the sea, I have my bearings" Tim Winton

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    Iíve installed many a soak well in Perth sand, I always use concrete as they are much easier to dig in.

    Establish the spot were you want it, clear any lawn etc away put the soak well on the sand and dig the sand out of the inside of the soak well and it will gradually sink in.

    Means you dig about half the quantity of the sand out I reckon.

    The blue metal has merit but for the extra effort required i'm not sure it's worth it. the side holes on concrete soaks point at an angle down this is (in theory) to stop the sand washing in.

    Cheers


    Dave
    Last edited by davo453; 30th Mar 2004 at 04:57 PM.

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    Davo,
    i would never have thought to do it that way, but anything to do a bit less digging has to be good.

    Paul
    "Looking west with the land behind me as the sun tracks down to the sea, I have my bearings" Tim Winton

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    Default Soak wells

    From information gathered by speaking to people who live in bushfire prone areas in NSW it is now law that when building new houses that they must have an underground storage pit of at least 20000 litres.No rainwater can be discharged into gutters as well. apart from this they must have stainless steel insect screening on windows there must be a cleared area of at least sixty metres around the house etc etc
    Could this be the way of the future ?
    What a good idea, you would not be reliant on draining dams, as at present ,when you want to water your garden,wash your car,etc

  19. #19
    Senior Member MrFixIt's Avatar
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    Originally posted by PaulS
    Davo,
    i would never have thought to do it that way, but anything to do a bit less digging has to be good.

    Paul
    Hi

    Keep in mind though, that it is a little awkward digging inside the soakwell. Your movements are somewhat restricted when you are about halfway down.

    Regards

    Peter

  20. #20
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    Peter,
    Having restricted movement might be a good thing, it might be a good arguement to get my wife to dig the hole..

    Paul
    "Looking west with the land behind me as the sun tracks down to the sea, I have my bearings" Tim Winton

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    Paul

    Let me know if you have any success - I have tried many times but SWMBO just won't be in it!

    Geoff

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    yes does get a little restricted in the hole, equip the missus with a post hole shovel thatís the tool for the job Iíve found.

    Cheers


    Dave
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    BAM
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    Default Roof, Gutter & Downpipe Calculator

    I came across this page with an extremely handy calculator applet for downpipes thanks to Ken Sutherland of Construction Hydraulic.

    http://www.conhyd.com/DPcalc.html

    Would anyone know where to download the AS 3500.3.2 "Stormwater Drainage - Acceptable Solutions" for free?

    (So far only found https://www.standards.com.au/catalog...=stds000020843 which charges for the PDF download).

  24. #24
    Pancakeus Incredibulus vsquizz's Avatar
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    Paul,

    While your in the digging mode it always pays, especially when you buy an established house, to dig up one or two of the soakwells that are near trees or bushes. About the only thing that can go wrong with them is they get choked with roots. All you do is dig up the lid and lift it. Use a steel rod to locate. Watch the gas, water, phone lines.

    BTW when I use plastic I dig the hole with about a 50 mm gap around the outside and backfill this (gap) with bluemetal or clean gravel. Tends to stop the roots actually choking the soakwell itself, as well as the infilling discussed. Be accurate with your hole or the blue metal will cost more than the soakwell

    BTW2 Paul DIG NOW after the rain, its much easier while the sand is damp. (use this argument with SWMBO)
    Squizzy

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    Pancakeus Incredibulus vsquizz's Avatar
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    Oh and for Mick

    Here's my front yard - see plenty sand mate, drains good and soakwells are cheap. Also good for mixing up some mud - free yellow sand on site.

    My house is lower than the road so no storm drains available unless I go about 110 metres through two other houses, and its a no no. In the photo (you can't see it) but there is a soakwell on the corner of the house.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 300704-039.jpg  
    Squizzy

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    squizz,
    Having put that post a few months ago, do you think I have done anything yet?

    No I haven't! You know what they say, i am still in the planning process.

    One of these days i will get around to doing it. But i fear that now we are in August, and in a couple of months there will be no more rain, it might be a job that gets rescheduled if you know what i mean. And anyway the timber is coming up, so we must get our priorities right.

    Paul
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    Pancakeus Incredibulus vsquizz's Avatar
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    Paul, You can't rush into these things Mate. Well done but you really need to do a bit more planning. Its taken me 3 years to plan the front yard and I've only got stuck into that because if its all dug up I don't have to mow it.

    Cheers
    Squizzy

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    Does anyone know what to do when a soakwell is permanently overflowing even when there is only little rain? We have that problem at our rental place and the tenants aren't impressed as there is always(after rain) a little lake in front of the main entry.

    That house is in Mindarie WA and it seems the soil is not draining the water away fast enough. Sometimes the little lake stays there for another two days after the rain stoped. I am not an expert but the soil looks like a lime stone sand mixture.

    Our tenants are moving out soon and then I'm planing to dig the soakwell up to see if there is anything wrong with it. If not then the problem must be the soil and I would like to know what to do before the next tenants moving in.

    There are only a couple roses near by, so I don't think root are the problem.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    jsandso

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    jsando, if its not roots then it will be one of two things:

    1. A blockage in the drain pipe which runs from the bottom of the downpipe to the soakwell, or

    2. The soakwell has collaspsed or is full of sand.

    I'm afraid its a matter of digging the soakwell up and having a look. Being in Mindarie I assuming its not that old so it could be a plastic soakwell and these will collaspse if any considerable weight is put on them.

    Cheers
    Squizzy

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    I agree with Squizzy dig the b**tard up. I've dug a few in the Mindarie area and can attest to the soil being lime stony. This reduces the drainage but doesn’t usually cause such an extreme overflow problem.

    It really is worth a look though as it could have caved in, or as in one similar case the naughty builder hadn't actually put one in at all, just a pipe going into the sand. I guess the ground was too hard and it was beer time late on a Friday or something.

    If the soak well is as it should be and the pipe isn't blocked you may need to dig another soak well beside it and connect the two.

    Cheers

    Dave

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    Thanks guys,

    looks like I have to dig the soakwell up to find out whats causing the problem.

    I would not be surprised not to find a soakwell at all, as the builder also "forgot" to connect a waste pipe to the sewerage and the waste water was just draining away into the ground.:mad:

    I'll let you know.

    Thanks again for your time and help.

    jsandso

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    jsandso,

    Just another quick tip (now that this topic's back up the top again). If your connections between downpipe and soakwell are complete, make a notch in the topside of the lowest bend, just above ground level. This stops water backing up and doing either one of two things - blowing the downpipe out of the soakwell connection, or blowing back up to the gutter and flooding your eaves. Learnt this one the hard way after making the whole connection air-tight, and watching the whole thing fill up to the gutter level. :eek: That notch at the bottom allows the overflow to be dispersed at a lower level, while having it at the top of the pipe means that the water coming down still goes into the soakwell.

    Lessons learnt at school were a lot cheaper than the ones I make around my house
    Craig

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    Senior Member MrFixIt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsandso
    looks like I have to dig the soakwell up to find out whats causing the problem.
    If you do dig it up, then I recommend you put a layer of coarse bluemetal at the bottom of the hole and completely around the outside about 75-100mm in thickness. The bluemetal makes a tremendous difference to the dispersion of water OUT of the soakwell. It allows ALL of the surrounding sand (or whatever) to absorb the water instead of the water soaking only into the areas immediately next to the soakwell holes.

    Using this method (advised many years ago by my bricklayer dad) I have NEVER had ANY of my soakwells overflow
    Kind Regards

    Peter

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    Default Soakwells

    I haven't read all the replies but didn't see that anyone had written that you need to be at least 1500mm from the house slab and fence line??....I had to install 6 soakwells at a new house i built in Perth and had to run a line 7metres to a soak well due to lack of space...check with council.....the best soakwells I found were old plastic 44 gallon drums very strong and deeper than the standard bunnings ones.....I got my mates around and put on a BBQ and got them all done in 2-3 hours....cost me alot in beer though.....I never had any problems with sinking or collapsing...I watered in the sand which helped compact it after they were installed...Good luck

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    Thanks to everyone for your help, but unfortunately even after installing a second soakwell, next to the existing one I got a phone call from my tenants today that there is again a big lake in the entry area. Apparently the water was even flowing into the garage.

    The soakwells are all installed correctly with gravel around and at the bottom of them. But I can tell you that I do not want to install another one myself. It toke me almost 5 hours to dig that hole. I had to use hammer and chisel to crash the limestone rocks. I think the condition of the soil in this area is just not suitable for soakwells. Especially with so much rain we had the last couple of days.<O</O

    I rang a drainage guy this afternoon and he said that I have to add as many soakwells as it takes to solve that problem, thatís all he can suggest. I asked him if one of this drainage pipes from Bunnings or so could help to redirect the water to the other side of the lawn area, but he said this is all crap and the only thing is adding soakwells.<O</O

    I just don't think this going to work on this water repellent soil.<O</O

    Does anyone have any ideas how to fix this problem?<O</O

    jsandso<O</O

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    Senior Member MrFixIt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsandso
    The soakwells are all installed correctly with gravel around and at the bottom of them. But I can tell you that I do not want to install another one myself. It toke me almost 5 hours to dig that hole. I had to use hammer and chisel to crash the limestone rocks. I think the condition of the soil in this area is just not suitable for soakwells. Especially with so much rain we had the last couple of days.<O</O

    [color=black]I rang a drainage guy this afternoon and he said that I have to add as many soakwells as it takes to solve that problem, that’s all he can suggest. I asked him if one of this drainage pipes from Bunnings or so could help to redirect the water to the other side of the lawn area, but he said this is all crap and the only thing is adding soakwells.

    There really is not much you can do, other than what you are doing already.

    There could be a *lttle* to be gained by perhaps a larger soakwell, however this becomes a more difficult task in the area in which you require soakwells.

    It seems, from what you describe, that the problem is not so much the soakwell or the quantity of soakwells (in a specific location) but the surrounding ground material.

    Obviously, as you can already appreciate, the water is NOT going to drain quickly through limestone. Your soakwell area is described as having sufficient limestone to make it a challenge to install the soakwells.

    The ground under and around the soakwell is going to make the whole process difficult.

    In *nromal* circumstances the house designers have to comply with regulations and have x number of downpipes for x length of gutter. A 1mtr x 1mtr soakwell (properly installed) at each of these downpipes (in my experience) in sandy soils will cater easily for rain runoff.

    If you have a particularly awkward roof design that has a high runoff into a single or limited outflow, then yes you may need more or larger soakwells.

    OF COURSE you can use stormwater pipes to move the soakwell to a more suitable location (or add more soakwells). "Drainage" pipes are something else - they are perforated to allow water to soak through and are not meant for this application.

    Make sure though that if you DO extend the downpipe to a "remote" soakwell, that the extension pipe has a "fall" ie ensure that the water WILL naturally flow toward the soakwell.

    You cannot keep adding soakwells to an area that does not provide suffficient drainage. You will need to obtain a more suitable area or perhaps consider redirecting the current "overflow problem" to a spoon drain to let the water flow over the ground area and ultimately drain "naturally".
    Kind Regards

    Peter

  37. #37
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    hi

    just looking into this stormwater/soakwell thing as we are about to do an extension and came across this page while searching - the regulations appear to be some sort of state secret to be kept from the general public at all costs

    have discovered so far that in perth, one downpipe is reqd to approx 37 sq m of roof, and that one cu m of soakwell is reqd for evry 80 s qm of roof. in other words .5 cu m per downpipe or 1 cu m for two downpipes.

    by the way, those plastic 600mm things have a capacity of .16 cu m, which serves about 13 sqm of roof or about half the roof area to one downpipe. ie they sound a complete waste of time.

    what i cant find is the distance soakwells must be from house or boundary, something which reno8ter refers to above. if it is 1500mm, which seems reasonable, that would rule out any soakwells dowmn the side of a house with a setback of 3.6m or less, which is most sides of houses. this would mean joining all the downpipes down that side of the house together via a stormwater pipe and tarnsferring the water to the back of the block, by which time one enormous (1800mm) soakwell would be reqd concentrating the water in one place instead of spreading it around.

    it also means you would have to find an area 4.8m across untroubled by buildings, boundaries, pools or trees, something that is not that easy to do even on a quarter acre block.

    so please, can anybody tell me what the rules are for perth for soakwell distances from stuff, or tell me where to look it up?

    thanks

  38. #38
    Pancakeus Incredibulus vsquizz's Avatar
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    G,day, 2 metres (in general) is how far away they should be from a footing. Hard and fast goes out the window due to a factor know as "Council Building Regulations". These seem to vary somewhat from place to place .

    The 600mm things are practically useless as you suggest. 12 to 14m2 per 600mm useless thing is what most new houses have. We generally try and talk the homeowner into putting in 1200dia x 1200h soakwells or even 1500 deep if there is no limestone sub-strata. Trafficable lids allow them to be placed under paving, driveways etc. I just finished putting a 1800 x 1800 (2 x 900 deep stacked) in a place in Fremantle. This was more than sufficient for the council on about 300m2 of roof. It was a sloping block so the owner could run all his downpipes into a 125mm drain and down to the soakwell at the front.

    Just remember the bigger the soakwell the better but size and weight can be a problem for installation. We use a bobcat and 5 1/2 tonne excavator. The plastic piles of junk are dangerous if you ever want to drive into your yard or operate landscaping machinery.

    Contact your council for the good oil cause I give up on what formula they are using this week:confused: .

    Cheers
    Squizzy

    "It is better to be ignorant and ask a stupid question than to be plain Stupid and not ask at all" {screamed by maths teacher in Year 8}

  39. #39
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    Hiya,

    Would it be naive to suggest a rainwater tank? I guess it has to have an overflow anyway, though. Just a thought!helga

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    What Squizzy said.

    This was what I managed to find out when I looked into it. About 2 meters from footings/slab and same from retaining walls.

    Geoff

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    ok thanks guys

    2m sounds an inconvenient distance - certainly couldnt fit them down the side of the house. think i will do as squizzy suggests - go and see the council on tuesday and ask them.

    rainwater tanks - have thought about them along with most other things , but aside from the gravity problem they would need to be half empty all the time to provide the capacity to absorb more, which kinda defeats the object.

    I am building a deck down the bottom of the garden and i have thought of pouring it into the void under that - 10cm void under 20 sqm of deck equals 2 cu m - equivalent to a pretty big soakwell. is that a stupid idea or ahead of my time?

  42. #42
    Pancakeus Incredibulus vsquizz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by christmas bonus
    ok thanks guys

    2m sounds an inconvenient distance - certainly couldnt fit them down the side of the house. think i will do as squizzy suggests - go and see the council on tuesday and ask them.

    rainwater tanks - have thought about them along with most other things , but aside from the gravity problem they would need to be half empty all the time to provide the capacity to absorb more, which kinda defeats the object.

    I am building a deck down the bottom of the garden and i have thought of pouring it into the void under that - 10cm void under 20 sqm of deck equals 2 cu m - equivalent to a pretty big soakwell. is that a stupid idea or ahead of my time?
    Can't comment on the under deck without seeing it, but assume you would have to have concrete or steel posts, dig out, fill with aggregate...works for me, same thing as a soakwell as long as it can't erode..just needs a bund around it.

    Doesn't matter how big your rain water tank is you still have to have the drainage within your boundary. It must not be capable of running to another property or the road.

    Awhile back we where building a wall at a new house and the builder put in the soakwells less than 1 metre from the footing...Council ordered them moved. This is why almost all contracts now say "drainage by owner" because it wont actually work with the design the landgrabbing penny pinching council bribing scumbag developers put on the plan. As long as they get their money they don't give a toss if the whole thing is disfunctional by not allowing room for drainage.:mad: ......better now....

    Cheers
    Squizzy

    "It is better to be ignorant and ask a stupid question than to be plain Stupid and not ask at all" {screamed by maths teacher in Year 8}

  43. #43
    Pretend my avatar moves! bitingmidge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vsquizz
    because it wont actually work with the design the landgrabbing penny pinching council bribing scumbag developers put on the plan.
    :mad: :mad: :mad:
    (Not really mad, but don't tell Squizz - I want him to stew on this thread for a day or two!)

    As a landgrabbing penny pinching council bribing scumbag developer, (or someone who makes his living working for them at any rate), nothing gets my goat more than people who buy small parcels of land in well planned community subdivisions, then proceed to buy the largest standard-plan house they can.

    These idiots (and I use that term in a caring and sharing sort of way), rather than spend a few dollars on a larger block of land, or on some clever design which may involve things like appropriate scale and siting, just dump a plan on a block of land, cutting off bits that don't fit and then blame every one else for their lack of foresight.

    So, if you buy a small block of land, please develop it appropriately, with clever planning you can do anything.

    Back to you Squizzy!!
    Cheers,

    P (Who raised his kids on a 400m2 lot in a 4 bedroom house with family room, office, two car garage and pool, but still had appropriately scaled spaces)

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    to develop this deck thing further; there is a deck area (currently under construction) which i have personally dug out so that the ground (ie sand) is 100mm below the bearers, and 200mm below the joists. Because it was dug out the ground is slightly higher all round forming a natural 'wall'.

    Instead of posts i am using galvanised stirrups bolted to the bearers at the top and set in a concrete pad in the ground. effectively it is a steel post.

    I therefore have a 100mm clear gap under the whole of the decking forming a natural soakwell. The smallest usable area of the deck is around 20sqm, so if the 100mm was ever full that would give a capacity of 2cu m, which is adequate for that side of the house. Since the design parameters are for a once in 20 year storm, that means the bearers are going to get wet once every 20 years, which i think they can live with.

    Why would i need to fill it with aggregate though? what would that do apart from halve the capacity?

    If it overflows the 'soakwell' it will overflow into a garden bed to the lower side. that garden bed is going to have in it a trench filled with aggregate and pipe to distribute reused grey water. The capacity of the trench at 200mm by 200mm by 20m long is another .8 cu m or so.

  45. #45
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    I've never heard of a Soak well before, so I looked this up. Just one question, is there holes on the bottom of that mother to let the water out?


    http://users.bigpond.net.au/degasperis/soakwell.html

  46. #46
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    Hi christmas bonus

    Sorry about the long reply, trying to cover all aspects for you

    so please, can anybody tell me what the rules are for Perth for soakwell distances from stuff, or tell me where to look it up?
    I don't know if there are regulations for soakwells installed in Perth (WA). If there are I expect it would vary from council to council

    I have put in quite a few soakwells over the years. I have never inquired about regulations, I just thought it was more or less common sense. There are various circumstances that control the *obvious* location eg tree, driveway's, HOUSE , fences etc, etc.

    None of the soakwells I have installed have ever overflowed or caused problems with the surrounding environment. I have *repaired* several that have been put in by *supposed* professionals. In MOST cases these repairs have required the emptying of sand that has flowed INTO the soakwell.

    Unless otherwise restricted, I always use (as a minimum) a 900mm x 900mm CONCRETE soakwell, with a concrete lid of course. This way I can be sure it will NOT collapse or deform and I can even drive over it!

    My soakwell installations *ALWAYS* include a 100mm base of 20-25mm aggregate and a 100mm "wall" of the same aggregate surrounds the soakwell TOP to BOTTOM. The use of aggregate improves the drainage by a huge factor. If you place the s/w directly into sand the water can only soak out through the immediately surrounding sand. The aggregate allows the water to "pour" out of the soakwell and spread right through the full surrounding area of sand. The sand can now no longer flow into the soakwell as the aggregate prevents this.

    I have usually placed my soakwells approximately 1m away from the house. This has never been measured, more or less been a "about here looks good". This may well have been 1.5m. I don't recall ever installing a s/w 2m away from the house. This is (to me) inconvenient. One of the untold benefits of a soakwell is the water made available to plants next to the house and generally under the eves. The sometimes lack of water such plants may sustain can be offset by the water from the s/w.

    Installing a s/w the way I suggest - with the aggregate - will prevent potential erosion of the sand near the house - besides, the footings SHOULD be self supporting over such small distance. Hmmm? the cheap way the build houses these days, maybe it is a worry !

    Anyway 3.6m is a huge distance (IMHO) I would NOT have any problem installing one or more 900mm s/w in that area / space If you are not sure, you could choose 2 x 600mm (concrete of course) s/w.

    FWIW in the property I am currently renovating, I had a dingo (small bobcat type vehicle) with a 1m auger "drill" two s/w holes in the centre of approx 2.5m house to fence setback. In the (sometimes) torrential rain we have had in winter there was absolutely NO sign of the s/w overflowing and the (then) fresh covering sand (over the s/w) has NOT budged! The other s/w placed in the back garden approx 1.5m from the house has been driven over many times with my Range Rover and a full trailer load of bricks. It is still working as expected.

    Obviously you can't necessarily dig away too close to the house if the sand in which you are digging is completely dry an keeps falling in! When digging the hole, it is wothwhile obtaining and using a couple of scaffolding planks about 3m long and use these to get in and out of the hole, this helps prevent you collapsing the surounding sand - you have enough to dig out anyway : D

    Good luck
    Kind Regards

    Peter

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    hi everyone, thanks for your replies and feedback.

    fwiw i have been to ask the council and the short answer is they dont care where they are or what they look like. According to the bloke there you can put them right next to your footings if you want. Unbelievably the BCA doesnt cover drainage at all, so therefore the council doesnt care. you dont even have to refer to the drainage at all on your building drawings.

    This means for a refreshing change you have to fall back on common sense as peter suggests. for me this will be using the same as for any other service pipes - draw a line from the bottom of the footing outwards at a ratio of 2 out for every one down, and dont put anything under that line. this would mean a 900mm soakwell with 300mm cover above would need to be approx 1.7m away from the building, although you could probably get away with a 1:1 ratio

    me, i'm just going with the deck idea

  48. #48
    Enemy of mediocrity corbs's Avatar
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    I thought the insurance companies required at least 1.5m from footings of house?? I have concrete in high traffic areas and plastic in others, all work fine if you prepare it right.

    corbs
    I'd rather be a has been than a never was.

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    Hi Guys,

    Sorry to bump a year old thread but I've got a soakwell question...

    We've got four whacking great concrete tanks buried in our backyard, two are the septic system and two are stormwater soakwells. All 4 sit next to each other (2x2) and are about 1.5 - 2m across the tops but I've no idea what's under em (the builders/site workers put them in when they built the place.)

    Anyway, I was thinking, since I've already got the house rain water being collected in the two soakwells is it possible to get them lined or something to actually collect the rainwater for watering the garden? Or would it be cheaper just to site a new tank next to them and divert the plumbing from the house? Flame me for thinking it, but with the cheap cost of scheme water, should I bother at all?

    I should mention we're in the hills just outside Perth if that makes a difference.

    Thanks

    Les

  50. #50
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    Default Soakwells Perth

    Hi guys. I've been browsing around on soakwells and reached this forum. My family has been in the building trade for more than 30 years now and we have kept to building only. However, we built a couple of homes with perth builders and realised that they charge an arm and a leg for soakwells!
    We knew it costs only a fraction of the price they were charging us, so we have decided to provide a soakwell installation service in perth as builders seem to be ripping everyone off.

    You are welcome to visit www.soakwells.com . Give us a ring and we can provide professional advice regarding soakwell installations in Perth.

    Last edited by jade; 20th Jun 2007 at 06:28 PM. Reason: forgot my title sorry

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