Blocked Drain Responsibility Explained

Our homes are connected to systems of drains and sewers, which function to carry away wastewater. If these pipes become blocked, we need to take steps to fix the issue and prevent ongoing problems. On encountering a blockage, what do you need to do and who is responsible for blocked drains? 

Drains on your property 

Drains within the boundary of your property are considered private drains. If a drain on your property becomes blocked, then it’s your responsibility to unblock it. You can attempt to unblock the drain yourself, or you can call a professional drainage company to do this for you. Taking out insurance is also an option to pay for fixing a private drain. 

Lateral drains and sewers  

Lateral drains are located outside your property, generally underneath the road or pavement. Lateral drains are the pipes which function to carry wastewater away from your home and into a sewer. These are connected to your private drains, yet they are not considered your responsibility. Lateral drains are publicly owned. 

 Sewers function to collect the waste and water from the drains of several different properties. Most sewers are publicly owned; however, there are still some privately owned sewers. If you have a private sewer, you could be liable to fix it, and you will need to contact your local sewerage company to find out. 

When a drain or sewer is outside the boundaries of your property, it is the responsibility of the water company to fix the problem, at no cost to you. If you believe that a blockage has occurred in a lateral drain or sewer, you should call your water company. 

Shared drains

 If you have a drain that is shared with a neighbour, your local water company will be responsible for this drain. You will only be accountable for a private drain on your property that is not shared. For those who live in a block of flats, it is the management company who are liable for any repairs within the property boundary. The water company are again responsible for fixing the lateral drains that service the flats. 

Tenant or Landlord

Generally speaking, if you rent your property, then the landlord will be responsible for all of the maintenance and repairs, including the drains. Minor blockages in sinks or toilets can usually be fixed by the tenants themselves. With the use of plungers or drain cleaners, it should be straightforward to deal with these small incidents of blockage. 

Maintaining your drain

You must adequately maintain any drains that you own; blockages, cracks, or misconnected pipes can damage your drain and the surrounding areas of your home. Dirty water can end up in our rivers if any pipes are incorrectly attached or faulty. The environmental health department can instruct you to carry out maintenance on private drains should they see a problem, but you should try to keep on top of these issues yourself. 

When you are maintaining a private drain, you should look out for signs of minor issues. It’s preferable to spot any problems early before they get worse. You may notice, for instance, deterioration such as leaks, cracks, or eroding pipes. If you have a blockage, you may notice foul smells or that wastewater drains away slowly. 

Private sewers

 If your sewer is private and you own the property, then it is your responsibility to repair any blockages and to make the associated payments. If the private sewer is serving several properties, then all owners will be obligated to pay for the repairs. If you are unsure whether your sewer is public or private, you can check with your local sewerage company to get this information. 

Connect to a public sewer

According to the Water Industry Act 1991, the owner of a private sewer is entitled to have their sewer or drains connected to a public sewer. The owner or occupier of a premises in general, can also apply to connect to a public sewer. If you wish to apply, you can do this via an application form with your local water supplier. Here is the application form for the supplier Thames Water. 

Requesting a company to adopt your sewer

In 2010, the government stated that the majority of private sewers and lateral drains would soon have full ownership by sewerage companies. According to Thames Water, up to 10 million homeowners were previously responsible for private sewers, yet many did not realise this until there was an issue which they had to fix. As a repercussion of this, many private sewers were left in bad condition. These reasons informed the decision to transfer the ownership of private sewers; from individuals to sewerage companies. 

Any lateral drains or private sewers that were connected to a public sewer before 1st July 2011, were transferred in ownership on 1st October 2011. If you still own a lateral drain or sewer, that remained unaffected by this legislation, you can request that your local sewerage company adopt it from you. 

Off-mains drainage

When your property is in a rural location, you will likely have off- mains drainage. This type of drainage is a self-contained system connected to your property, or perhaps shared with your neighbours. There are three types of off-mains drainage; one is a cesspit, which is a holding tank that must be emptied approximately every eight weeks. Another is a septic tank; solid waste is kept in a tank and the liquid waste goes to a drainage field. Thirdly, sewage treatment plans involve compressed air that’s blown into a tank to break down waste. If you have a problem with any of these drainage systems you are responsible for the payments and repairs. 

Further information on blocked drain responsibility 

For further information on water and drainage services, you can look to Ofwat’s website. Ofwat is a water services regulation authority, responsible for the sewerage industry and the water sector. You can also take a look at the Water Industry Act if you would like to read more about water legislation, including the provision of sewerage services. 

A Brief History of London’s Drain Systems

London’s drainage system as we see it today is incredibly different from what it once was. A key part of the water infrastructure that serves the vast majority of Greater London and is operated by Thames Water, the sewage system was once the cause of disease and destruction as human waste was unloaded directly into the river.

Before it was redesigned by respected architect Joseph Balzagette, in the early 19th Century it resulted in 1000s of people across the capital contracting diseases such as cholera as the River Thames acted as an open sewer. An event also known as the Great Stink, the hot weather exacerbated the smell of human waste throughout the city, making it an unbearable place to live – no matter what class you were of.

The contamination of the water alongside proposals made in the early 1700s were some of the reasons as to why the need for it to be redesigned became so prevalent. It was, however, delayed until the influential Metropolitan Board of Works was created in 1856 due to the costs associated with the construction. The costs and proposals to modernise the drainage system, weren’t, however, agreed by parliament until after the horrific Great Stink of 1858.

As gravity resulted in the sewage flowing towards the east, located such as Deptford, Abbey Mills and Chelsea required an additional installation. Pumping stations were created to help provide sufficient flow and to raise water levels.

The Impact of Joseph Bazalgette

As mentioned above, Joseph Bazalegette was an architect who helped to redesign the London drainage system. But he was also the chief engineer in the Metropolitan Board of Works in the mid to late 19th Century and had an incredibly significant impact on the design and effect of the drainage system. Directly improving its appearance, as well as resulting in an improvement in the health of London’s residents, his actions are an important part of London’s history.

Joseph Bazalgette was elected as chief engineer, supervising public works in an extraordinary way across the city. By 1866, London’s drainage system was transformed to include a series of connected sewer networks which was devised by Bazalgette himself. Diverting the water from the underground rivers and sewers to low-level sewers built behind the embankments, before the waste ended up in the Thames Estuary, it was an incredible and drastic change that was much overdue.

In 1870, the Victoria and Albert Embankments were opened. These were designed to replace the Thames shore which was once only tidal mud with the reclaimed and supportive ground. Protecting the low-level sewers, underground railway and service subway, it was a welcome addition that kickstarted an array of other embankments being built – such as the Chelsea Embankment which was completed four years later.

London’s Drain System Today

We no longer have to worry as much about drainage as we once did. The chance of an event such as the Great Stink is, most likely, a thing of the past which won’t happen again. Throughout the 20th Century, major improvements to the drainage system continued to occur which in turn reduced the pollution that began to occur in the North Sea and the Thames Estuary.

Proposals for projects such as the Thames Tideway Scheme is underway to increase the capacity of London’s sewage system. As the population grows, as does the need for improvements to the structure. And this development is just one of the steps needed to keep up with the demand for an efficient and fully-functional sewerage system in the capital.

Now something that we take for granted, it is fascinating to discover the history of the drainage system and how it has transformed over the years thanks to innovative minds such as Joseph Bazalgette.

Blocked Drains London 

Even though blocked drains might not seem as big of a worry in the present day, it is something that still occurs. At Quick Clear Drainage we work on fixing any blocked drain issues that occur throughout the city. Experts in drainage London, we have years of experience with London drains and understand the need to effectively fix the issue as quickly as possible.

As soon as you notice a drainage issue, whether it is within your business or home, get in contact with us and we will be on hand to help. If you have a blocked toilet or sink, we are your first port of call every time. Using our expertise and state-of-the-art technology, we offer a high-quality service that’s affordable and efficient. A trusted company that puts our customers first, we have an array of glowing reviews on Google.

Want to find out more about the drainage services we offer? Give us a call today on 0203 633 3897 or by email on info@quickcleardrainage.co.uk.

Photo by Frank Albrecht on Unsplash.

5 Signs You May Have A Collapsed Drain

As a property owner, you want your drains to work all year without fail. The good news is that most do, taking waste and sewage from your home and depositing them at the treatment works. Unfortunately, however, drains don’t always work and, in some circumstances, can collapse, leading to drainage issues and backing up.

A collapsed drain is a potentially severe issue. Drains collapse either because of a lack of maintenance, or when the ground shifts. Both of these are liable to crack pipes and cause waste to flow into the surrounding ground. Collapsed drains not only create an inconvenience but are also a health hazard. Cracks make it easy for rodents and other sewer-dwelling creatures to enter your home. 

How can you tell if you have a collapsed drain? Let’s take a look. 

You Can Smell Sewage

Ordinarily, you should not be able to smell sewage. A combination of sealed piping and regular draining prevents smells from the sewage system from backing up into your home. Unfortunately, when you have a collapsed drain, there’s nothing to contain the sewage, and it begins to leach out into the surrounding ground. No matter where the breach is located, it’s a problem, but it’s particularly bad when the drain is leaking near your foundations or close to your home. 

If you smell sewage, then it’s unlikely the problem will go away. You need professionals to fix the issue as soon as possible. 

There Are Rodents And Other Unwanted Visitors In Your Property

Rodents love living in sewers because they are a great way to escape the threat of predation while also offering shelter against the elements. It’s not uncommon for sewer-dwelling creatures to raise entire litters of young in the sewers before venturing out into the wide-open world to find food. 

When you have a collapsed drain, however, it means that your defences against rodents are compromised. There’s nothing preventing rodents from climbing through cracks, out of drains, and up pipes into your home. If you suddenly find that you’re inundated with sewer-dwelling creatures, then it could be a collapsed drain. Rodent infestations require urgent attention.

Your Sinks, Baths And Toilets Drain Slowly

Often a collapsed drain leads to a blockage. The material around the pipe falls into the channel, preventing wastewater from flowing through and out into the rest of the sewage network. 

If you notice slow draining in all the sinks and toilets in your home, then you likely have a collapsed drain. Experiment with domestic drain unblocker products, but if the problem persists or you notice a smell, then you may require professional assistance. 

Professional blocked drains experts will first perform a CCTV survey using a camera on the end of a long pole to see whether there is damage or blockage in your drains. Professionals will then create a plan of action to repair the obstruction and order replacement parts. 

You Notice Persistent Damp Or Mold

Collapsed drains can prevent water from draining from your property. Instead of travelling through pipes and out into the sewage network, blocked drains, cause wastewater to back up and leach out into the surrounding ground. 

Sometimes, the collapsed area is near to your foundations. When sewage leaks out, it permeates the masonry and slowly works its way up until it becomes visible in the walls in your home. 

Damp is indicative of an issue, but it doesn’t create health problems by itself. Mould, however, does and can worsen asthma symptoms and lead to allergies. Where damp starts, mold usually follows, so if you have a collapsed drain, it’s in your best interest to deal with the issue sooner rather than later. 

Your Toilets And Sinks Keep Backing Up

When you flush a toilet or empty a sink, it releases a sudden rush of wastewater into the system. Under normal circumstances, your sewer pipes can handle all of this liquid passing through in one go. But when you have a collapsed drain, you may notice “backing up.” 

Toilets, for instance, may take a while to return to their normal water level after flushing, and sinks or baths may drain slowly. Check first that neither the pipes leading from the bath/sink or toilet are blocked and use regular domestic pipe unblocker. If that doesn’t resolve the problem, then, again, you may need the help of professionals. With a professional by your side, you can deal with the source of the problem and restore functional drainage in your home. 

Do you think that you may have a collapsed drain? Contact Quick Clear Drainage for CCTV Drain Surveys London to investigate whether you have collapsed drains in need of repair.

How To Prevent Blocked Drains

Is there anything more frustrating than having a blocked drain? You can’t use the toilet for fear that it is going to overflow. You may even find that you can’t use water in any parts of your home, depending on the nature of the blockage. It can be very annoying, to say the least. But what makes matters worse is learning that the blockage could have been avoided. This is the case more often than you would realise. Mostly, blockages tend to occur because we act in ways we shouldn’t in terms of what we put down our toilets or sinks. Therefore, with a few little changes, you can go a long way to ensuring that your drains do not end up blocked. With that being said, let’s take a look at some important tips to follow to prevent blocked drains…

Some tips for the kitchen

Let’s begin by taking a look at some of the different things you can do with regards to your use of your kitchen sink in order to stop a blocked drain from occurring. When it relates to the kitchen, blockages usually occur because food has gotten down the sink.

This can be especially damaging if it is cooking oil, grease, or fat. This is because these liquids will solidify when they cool down, and this causes a pretty big blockage, which can be hard to remove by yourself. This is why you need to make sure that you never pour grease, fat, or cooking oil down the sink.

You should also make sure that you scrape any leftovers from your plate into the bin before you wash it in the sink. Another useful tip is to use a strainer in your sink plughole, emptying the contents into the bin. This will act as a barrier, ensuring food does not make it passed the plughole and into your drains.

Blockages in your own drains, as a result of clogging your pipes with fatty oils, grease, and leftover food, can cause a world of grief for your home. But there are also some more severe consequences. In the UK, “Fatbergs” have been an issue within London sewer systems since 2010, due to the rise in usage of “disposable” wet wipes.


BBC Earth Lab “Disgusting ‘Fatberg’ Found In London Sewer”

Fatbergs occur due to a combination of oils, fat and wet wipes, all combining into one large solid piece of matter. With that in mind, blockage prevention can be heavily influenced by what we flush down our toilets.

Some tips for the bathroom

Of course, aside from the kitchen, most of the mistakes happen in the bathroom when it comes to blocked drains. Did you know that one of the biggest causes of blocked drains in London and the UK, in general, is people trying to flush nappies down the toilet? You may think that this is something you can do because of the materials that modern nappies are made from. However, they have not been designed to be flushed down the toilet. This is one of the quickest ways to end up with a blockage because the nappy will end up stuck in the pipe, as it does not degrade in water.

Another big drain blocker is hair! If you have long or thick hair, this point is for you! It can be very difficult to avoid hair getting into the sink and shower plugholes. After all, you can’t help if strands of hair come out while you are washing! However, a good method for dealing with this is to get a trap or guard so that you can catch the hair before it is washed down the pipes.

Aside from nappies and hair, common blockages occur because of wipes and feminine products. With wipes, you need to throw them in the bin. They are not designed for toilets. Moreover, feminine products can range from cotton buds to sanitary pads, and these have not been designed to be flushed down the toilet either.

Whether it is food or a bathroom product, don’t have the attitude that now and again won’t make a difference. Little build-ups can easily result in big blockages.

Call Quick Clear Drainage London For Blocked Drains Emergencies!

If you do find that your drains are blocked, it is important to deal with the problem as soon as possible so that you can enjoy your home and the bill does not get bigger and bigger. After all, if you leave the blockage it may get worse, and this could mean that you have a more expensive plumbing service on your hands. Plus, who can really afford to leave a blockage as it is in any case? We all need water and to use the toilet! So, if you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic. Quick Clear Drainage London is here to provide an emergency blocked drain unblocking service. It does not matter what time it is or what day of the week it is, we have got you covered. Simply give us a call on 0203 633 3897 to book an emergency appointment if you have a blocked drain London.