How to deal with a blocked drain or sewer

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How to deal with a blocked drain or sewer

When dealing with a blocked drain you will need to assess whether the blockage is in the private drain or the public sewer.

Outside your home:

A private drain is the pipe that leads from your home.  This is solely your responsibility. You will need to instruct a contractor to clear the blockage.  If the blockage cannot be found or concerns are raised about the condition of your drainage system, a CCTV survey can be undertaken.  First, check with your neighbours and see if they are suffering the same issue.  If they are, the blockage could be in the sewer, if not, it may just be in your private drain.  If you believe that the blockage is in your private section of drain, you can carefully lift the inspection chamber (if possible) to check whether there is any backed-up sewage.

A public sewer is where the pipe from your home joins with a drain from another property. This is the responsibility of your local water supplier.  If the problem is in the sewer, you and your neighbour should share the cost of the contractor’s fees. If negotiations with your neighbour hit a stalemate, contact your local council’s Environmental Officer, he/she may be able to help you reach an agreement with your neighbour.

If in doubt, contact your local Environmental Health Officer by contacting your local council.  Your Environmental Health Officer could offer to come to your property or offer you advice over the phone.  If they come to your property, they should be able to assess the problem and advise you accordingly.  Following their visit, they should be able to tell you whether it is your responsibility to clear the blockage or whether your neighbours are jointly liable for the cost.  Find your local Environmental Health Officer in Scotland here.

The Environmental Health Officer can issue a notice on everyone affected by the blockage but this would be costly as your local council will add an administration fee.  They also have the power to make arrangements for a contractor to clear the sewer and bill all properties concerned.

How do I prevent my drain from getting blocked?

Inside your home:

  • Do not put food waste in your sinks (scrape cutlery/crockery completely before washing).
  • Pour cooking oil/grease into a cup (never pour into the sink), let it solidify and dispose of in the bin.
  • Never place anything small that could cause an obstruction in the sink (hair clips, jewellery, cotton wool etc).
  • Always place nappies, face wipes, tampons and sanitary towels in the bin (not down the toilet).
  • Don’t place too much toilet roll down the toilet at one time.

Products are available to use inside the home when dealing with a blockage:

Toilet (click to view)

With over 2,500 reviews and just shy of a 5-star rating, this plunger is designed for toilets.  With its unusual shape, this plunger has a narrow end that you point down into the basin before you start pumping for 100% effectiveness.  It’ is purpose-built to unclog your toilet, not like the traditional rubber cup on a stick.  Easy to clean and store.  After use, add a little bleach to your toilet, then plunge the clean water for a few seconds.   To store, just remove the handle and it will fit in any small cupboard.  This plunger has a much greater force (8x) than any cup plunger ever produced.  Check the feedback out for yourself, it’s cleared children’s toys, wet wipes, mammoth ‘man-made’ blockages and much, much more.  It also comes with a fantastic money-back guarantee.  Well worth the plunge….

Bath/Sinks/Drains (click to view)

Mr Muscle Kitchen & Bathroom Drain Gel is the powerful solution to clear slow running sinks, plugholes and pipes in your bathroom and kitchen.  It’s a combination of two powerful liquids that activate on contact to unleash a powerful cleaning foam that will remove gunge and hair from the entire width of the pipe, leaving your waste pipe clean and fresh.  It will not damage septic tanks or pipes of any type. As with all cleaning products, it is important to read the instructions carefully before use. Avoid gold plated fittings. Do not use in sinks with waste disposal units or in toilets.  If in doubt about whether it is suitable for use on your surface, refer to manufacturer’s instructions.

Outside your home:

Sweep the drain and the area around the drain regularly and keep it free from leaves and debris.

If the blockage causes a flood in your property or escape of water, click here for guidance on how to deal with your insurance company here.

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