Who is responsible for fixing my drains?
Householders and businesses often share the common misconception that councils and Water Utility Companies are responsible for maintaining all drains but, unfortunately, this is not the case.
If your drains connect directly to the public sewer then you are responsible for the maintenance of that drain up to the point of connection. This, at present, means that in addition to the drains on your property, your responsibility extends to the section of drain between your property boundary and the public sewer – which may lie in the middle of the road.
If you connect into a shared drain with other properties, before entering the public sewer, this shared drain is called a private sewer. In general, for houses which were built before October 1937, the responsibility for this private sewer falls on the Local Utility Company (United Utilities).
If your house was built after October 1937 this private sewer is the joint responsibility of all the properties connecting into it and any maintenance and repair costs should be shared equally.
Unfortunately, many private sewers have not been built to the same standards as public sewers and problems may occur more frequently.
There is some good news on the horizon for householders, at least as far as drainage is concerned. From April 2011 new legislation will mean that the Utility Companies will assume responsibility for the section of drain between your property boundary and the main sewer. They will also assume responsibility for private sewers which, if you happen blessed with disputatious neighbours, will come as a great relief.
Does insurance cover my drains?
It obviously depends on your policy but, in general terms, drains will not be covered by your bricks and mortar insurance unless the repairs required are as a result of root intrusion, subsidence or vehicular damage. Insurance companies are becoming increasingly more reluctant to pay for drain repair work, and will routinely send out a loss adjuster for all but the smallest claims.
As a respected contractor we enjoy a good relationship with all the major insurance companies and we have an excellent success rate when presenting claims to them.
This is due to the high level of expertise and professionalism with which we construct our reports, and the reputation which we enjoy within the industry.
What is a drainage survey?
Often, when there is an underlying problem in a drain, the simplest and most cost effective way to identify it is to put a CCTV camera through the drain to determine the exact nature of the problem and establish the cheapest way to remedy it. CCTV quickly identifies most problems, including displaced joints, cracks, leeks, collapses, settlements, infiltration, root intrusion, etc.
Using this method it is often possible to pre-empt the necessity for major excavation work, allowing, for example, an opportunity to reline a damaged or fractured drain or discover the location of inlets and branch lines.
Our vans are equipped with the latest high-definition digital CCTV survey units which provide a full record of your survey onto a DVD. This can be accompanied by a full report and a schematic of your drains.
Why do I need a pre-purchase drain survey?
Mortgage providers are increasingly asking for a Pre-Purchase Drainage Survey. This makes sense as major drainage problems can often cost thousands of pounds to remedy.
Very often the building surveyor will ask for a drainage survey as a result of noting cracks or movement in the surrounding ground, or signs of dilapidation in gullies and manholes.
However, even if the mortgage company does not require it, we would always advise a prospective purchaser to commission their own survey.
As mentioned above, if the drains are in need of repair the cost may run into thousands of pounds. If defects are discovered during the course of the survey an estimate will be provided to advise you of the cost of remedial works. This cost can very often be negotiated off the purchase price of the property, or you can insist that the vendor undertakes the work prior to completion. In this respect, the low cost of the survey is repaid many times over.
Even when the drains are in good condition and no work is required, the cost of the survey is adequately repaid by the peace of mind you will enjoy, knowing that no nasty surprises are waiting to be discovered underground.
Why does my shower or bath empty slowly?
Very often the plughole of the bath or shower will become blocked by hair and soap scum. Sometimes the central portion of the plug hole will lift out to permit cleaning, if not the hair can often be teased out with the judicious use of a piece of wire or tweezers. Sometimes, because of restricted room beneath the bath or shower, there is not a great deal of fall on the outlet pipe – leading to a reduced flow of water.
This is further exacerbated by deposits of hair and soap scum which the slow flow encourages to build up on the pipe walls. It may be possible to clean this pipework with a proprietary drain cleaner, if not it will be necessary to remove the waste pipe and thoroughly clean it.
What is the best way to keep my drains clean?
Drains, whether they are in the bath, shower or kitchen sink, require regular cleaning to prevent blockage and eliminate odours. This also applies to the drains and gullies outside the house.
Unless drains are cleaned regularly, a build-up of grease, fats, foodstuffs and soap scum can result in smells or blockage.
The first line of defence is prevention; this means wiping out greasy pots and pans with kitchen roll before washing. Likewise, all scraps of food left on the plate should be carefully scraped off before washing. In the bathroom, a cheap hair trap which sits on top of the bath or shower plughole should be purchased and fitted. Outside the home, care should be taken to keep all gully lids clean and free from leaves and debris.
Drains should be regularly washed down with boiling water which will help to disperse sludge and greasy deposits from the pipe and dislodge micro-bacterial deposits which can lead to unpleasant odours. An occasional application of thick bleach is also beneficial and in extreme cases a proprietary drain cleaner can be used.
Want to talk to somone who understands drainage systems?
Then call us now for a friendly, no-obligation and jargon-free chat about your drainage requirements.