Having an extension built taught me a lot about how my house was initially constructed. I never really knew what went on under the floors or behind the walls, and had no idea where all the waste went from my kitchen, three toilets, bathroom and shower. Anyway, during the work I saw exactly where the waste was going, now know where all my soil pipes are, which ones connect to each other, where they are under the house, where they all flow out to (see the pic on the right) and also where the rainwater drainage passes.
But, one question that had not occurred to me is, who is responsible for these drains? I pay a water company for drainage, do they unblock serious blockages? Following the news about Canvey residents being blamed for blocked drains and the subsequent flooding, it appears it is the landowner’s responsibly. Eager to learn more, I contacted Fraser Ruthven from London Drainage Facilities about household blockages. This is what I learned (he gave lots of tips on avoiding blockages too).
Blockages Are a Common Problem
Gone are the days when everybody had a neighbour with some drainage rods (where did all the rods go to?), so it is important to work hard to avoid problems. It’s highly likely that all households will be faced with drain problems at some point. This could range from a simple build-up of grime and dirt, to something more complex like a collapsed drain or soak away. Whatever the cause, the effects can be unpleasant, from the unsavoury smells and overflowing pipes, to toilets that won’t flush, and even sodden gardens that won’t dry out. Let’s take a look at what could be blocking your drain, and how to deal with the problems.
Common Causes Of Blocked Drains
On a base level, many of the blockages found in drains are waste material, the dirt, grime, and other stuff we want to get rid of, that is building up in the wrong place and causing problems. This could be clumps of hair, or grease and fatty substances, both of which are preventable. Sometimes there are even problems with people using too much toilet paper, or even trying to flush sanitary items or nappies down the loo. The weather can also play its part with garden materials falling into gutters and pipes and building up, tree roots can also cause a problem. Any of these blockages outdoors could cause a water build-up and flooding or frozen pipes.
You could also have a situation where foreign objects get caught between drainpipes and the pipe network that flows underneath, which may not create issues in the first instance, but could become blocked over time.
Who Is Responsible?
Due to changes in the law, homeowners are now responsible for their own drains, and if a drain in your property meets a neighbouring one, then you are only responsible for your part of the network inside your property boundaries. You should contact water or sewage companies if the problem is likely to be in shared ‘private’ sewers or drains outside of your property’s boundaries. If you’re unsure as to who is responsible you could try contacting your local water company or Department of Environmental Health.
Benefits Of A CCTV Survey
Not every blockage is easy to spot and resolve yourself, especially if it’s deeper into your pipe networks or underground in your garden. CCTV Surveys can help spot general issues, where a drain hasn’t been cleaned or regularly serviced, or more extensive problems such as collapsed drains. Specialists can use the latest technology to explore toilet pans, 45 degree bends, trapped gullies, and can use crawler units on large diameter pipes.
Extensive problems will generate full written reports and video footage, site plans, and photos of the defects, along with predicted repairs and the costs. With full information on your drainage system and condition, you’ll have all the details you need to achieve a cost-effective solution to your drainage problem – and the report is also written using insurance approved software.
Finding out the exact cause of the problem blockage is vital to ensure the correct work is undertaken, the problem doesn’t recur, and for insurance purposes as well. You could be told that the problems you have and the suggested solutions are not covered by insurance, and would cost a lot of money to fix, but that may not always be the case. Experts could identify a blocked or broken drain as the cause of issues such as rising damp, and that would normally mean valuable savings on your insurance, which would cover this type of issue.
To be on the safe side, it’s always worth double checking who is responsible for the drains you have that need attention, what might be covered by your insurance policy, and whether a CCTV survey will help you pinpoint the problem and the best course of action.
There are plenty of simple things you can do to help prevent drain problems and blockages as well, from using hair traps in the bath, to watching what substances you pour down the sink. Clean out your gutters, and remove any leaves, or sprouting weeds, as well and you might not have to ask what’s blocking your drain very often.