Soakwell Repairs: How To Repair Your Soakwell Like a PRO

So you’ve noticed something isn’t quite right with your soakwell and it’s time to take some action?  Well not to worry, I’m here to help with a step-by-step guide on how to repair your soakwell.

An old collapsed soakwell that needs repairing
A photo of two old plastic soakwells that had collapsed and needed repairing in Perth, Western Australia

Expose your soakwell

To be able to see what the issue is, you first need to expose your soakwell.  From here you can then inspect the soakwell lid and once removed, you can then inspect the inside of the soakwell.

Once you’ve identified where your soakwell is, to expose your soakwell you’ll need to dig down to the soakwell which is usually buried anywhere from 300-500mm below ground.  Here are some steps below to help with this:

  1. Before you start digging, grab a tarpaulin and put this next to the area you plan to dig;
  2. Remove any pavers or other ground cover and then start digging down towards the soakwell.  Note, place the sand and anything else removed (such as pavers, grass etc) on the tarpaulin as this keeps everything organised and will make it easy when it comes time to backfill;
  3. Keep digging until you hit the soakwell lid.  This is likely to be either concrete, PVC or plastic.  If the lid has collapsed back into the soakwell you may not hit anything when you dig, however, keep digging until you either find the lid or start entering the inner area of the soakwell;
  4. Once you’ve found the lid and cleared all the sand around it, spray it with a hose to clear all the sand so you can see the state of the lid;

What’s next… how does the soakwell lid look?

From here you’ll have a couple of different scenarios, the lid will either be cracked or has broken and collapsed back into the soakwell.  Refer to the steps below depending on what has occurred;

1. The lid has cracked and collapsed back into the soakwell

If this has occurred, you’ll need to reach in and remove the segments of the lid and replace it with a new one.  Depending on the type of soakwell will determine the type of lid you need.

For example, if it’s a concrete soakwell you’ll need a circular concrete lid to match or if it’s a PVC Soakwell you’ll need the matching lid.  Best place to find such lids will be at Bunnings or similar hardware stores.

However, you may not always be able to find a match hence if this is the case I often use the circular concrete lids as these are the most versatile soakwell lids around.

Note, before you replace the lid you’ll need to remove any surplus sand or debris that has entered the soakwell.  This is important to ensure the soakwell returns to operating at its full capacity.

2. Or, the soakwell lid looks fine…what should I do?

If the soakwell lid looks fine then there must be another way that the sand above is sinking down into the soakwell.  This usually means that either the soakwell itself has collapsed, cracked or has a hole as such.  Or, that perhaps there are holes around where the PVC drainage pipe enters the soakwell.

Either way, from here you will need to remove the soakwell lid to see what is going on.  Once you’ve removed the lid you can then inspect the soakwell itself to see if it’s collapsed and needs replacing or whether sand is getting in other ways such as where the PVC drainage pipe enters the soakwell.

If the soakwell has collapsed and needs replacing then refer to our soakwell installation page which provides a step-by-step guide to installing a new soakwell.

See also: How to install a new soakwell

Or, if the soakwell is fine and there are gaps around where the PVC pipe enters the soakwell then you’ll need to resolve this.  If possible, the best way to do this is to dig down around the back of where the PV pipe enters the soakwell.  

From here I usually then try to remove the pipe, cut a piece of geofabric material to cover the hole, then re-cut and insert the pipe ensuring a snug fit.

If you can’t remove the pipe then another option is to clean and dry around the pipe and then fill the holes around the pipe.  Depending on the size I use foam filler or silicone-based sealant.

Time to backfill

Once you’ve done your repairs it’s time to backfill.  Using your shovel push the sand back into the hole and compact it down as you go.

Note, if you have pavers or some other type of ground cover then you want to take your time compacting to ensure there is no air in the sand and that the pavers don’t sink once re-installed.  To do this you can use a manual compacting tool such as a steel tamper or even wetting the sand with the hose does the trick.

Final thoughts

I hope you found the above article and all the best with the soakwell repair!  Remember, if you do need to replace your soakwell then head over to our soakwell installation page for instructions on how to do so.

Oh, and before I forget – I plan to upload a video showing the steps of a soakwell repair so stay tuned and subscribe to my youtube channel so you get notified:)

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