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How Do You Know Where Your Main Drains are Blocked?


A sewage or waste water drain is found in every property and it’s the responsibility of the owner to maintain it. It is an important part of a building’s plumbing system, but can get blocked and cause havoc any time of the day.

Private drains, so referred to mainly because there maintenance lies entirely with the property owner, have a way of warning when there is blockage.

However, you need to be on the look out for you to spot the problem in its initial stages.
Common Signs
· Slow Drainage

For starters, the toilet is mostly affected incase of blockage. Gullies outside overflow and after flushing the toilet, waste takes time to go and sometimes does not flow away. The water creates a pool after you have showered or remains in our bathtub for hours after you have released it. A normal sink or toilet or sink should drain fast without creating bubbles and back washes.

Check if your neighbours are affected because a problematic sewer will affect everyone, not just you. But, if your neighbours are fine, it means your main drains are blocked.

Foul Smell

A bad smell is one of the obvious signs of a blocked drain. Accumulated waste produces the foul smell in your kitchen, bathroom, bathtub and toilet because the stuck food particles, hair, debris and other wastes start to decompose.


The worst sign of a blocked toilet is overflow. No homeowner will feel excited when someone in the toilet shouts out that it is overflowing after flushing. The drain blockage prevents water from flowing away and the toilet is flushed, it back flows.

Strange Noises

It is common to hear strange noises when water is draining from a shower or sink. It may sound harmless, but its one of the early signs of a blocked drain. The noises are caused by disruption of water flow due obstruction. So the noise heard is from water hitting whatever lies on its way.

The Drains are Blocked, What Next?

As a property owner, you are responsible for private drain maintenance. So if there is a blockage, you have to act first. It will be easier if your insurance scheme covers for the expenses. Clearing the blockage is not easy unless you know how, so you need to call a plumber to do it.

If however you have confirmed it is a blocked or defective sewer outside your property boundary (lateral drains), you may contact the United Utilities who were given the responsibility of clearance of blockages and drain repair as from 1 October 2011. Call them through 0845 746 2200 or report it to them online.

United Utilities or the Local Authority will not be responsible for some pipes and equipments as stated below:

· Water supply pipes that are within your property boundary
· Existing surface water sewers that do not drain to a public sewer
· Sewage treatment works and pipes connected to them that are privately owned.

· Septic tanks and cesspits that are privately owned.

Contact your landlord or Housing Association in case of a rented accommodation that has a drainage problem. Officers of the Council may also come in to investigating any matter or problem that relates to a delayed drainage issue in a property and refer the case to appropriate agencies or take action where necessary.

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