Tag Archives: Drain (plumbing)

The transfer of private sewers and lateral drains

As of 1 October 2011 the ten water and sewerage companies in England and Wales automatically became responsible for privately owned sewers and lateral drains located outside property owners’ boundaries. These pipes were previously the responsibility of the owners of the properties they are connected to. 

The idea behind this government initiative is to relieve property owners of responsibility for repair and maintenance from property owners, who can face unexpected and potentially expensive bills or complex ownership issues when problems occur with these pipes. 

However, it’s important to remember that property owners still retain the ownership and therefore the responsibility of the drain serving their property that is located within their boundary. 

What is a private sewer?

A sewer is a pipe that carries waste water from more than one property. Sewers often run along several properties or towards the road. Most are owned and cared for by the local water company. 

Some groups of properties are connected to private sewers. Before 1 October 2011 these sewers were the responsibility of the owners or occupiers of the properties connected to them. The water and sewerage companies are now responsible for maintaining these. 

What is a lateral drain?

A drain is a pipe that carries waste water away from a single property. Drains belong to the owner of the property they are connected to. A drain is the property owner’s responsibility until it connects to either someone else’s drain or a sewer. Nearly every property is connected to its own private drains. The property owner is responsible for their repair and maintenance. However, some properties – such as apartment blocks – have shared drains. Owners of these properties are jointly responsible for their drains. 

A lateral drain is the part of a drain which lies outside the property boundary. In some cases these can be located under someone else’s land or a road. Before 1 October 2011 lateral drains were the responsibility of the individual property owner they serve. 

On 1 October 2011 private sewers and lateral drains were automatically transferred to the water and sewerage companies. The local water and sewerage company is now responsible for the maintenance and repairs to these pipes.


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More drain unblocking tips

Continuing our series on common drainage problems we offer some tips on how to avoid blocked sinks.

You are most likely to call a drainage technician because you have blocked drains or traps.  Blockages can cause bad smells and in the worst cases flooding.  There are a few things that you can do to avoid them. 

The kitchen sink is the most heavily used sink in the house, so it is the most likely to get blocked.   

•           Watch what you empty into the sink.  Don’t throw food waste, fats or cooking oils down the drain.  Fats solidify in warm water and get deposited on the pipes.  Layers of fat will build up over time and block the pipe.

•           Wipe out greasy pans with kitchen towel before you wash them.

•           Take food waste out of the sink rather than poking it down the plughole.  Use an empty milk carton or similar to store used fat in until you can throw it in the bin.

•           Remove hairs that get caught in the bath plughole each time you bathe.  Leaving hair to build up will clog the drain.  You can get strainers which fit in the plug hole that will catch and collect loose hair.  Clear soapy residue from plugholes by pouring disinfectant down them every once in a while.

•           Only use the recommended amounts of detergent in washing machines and dishwashers.  A build up of soapy residue over time will cause a blockage.

•           Don’t flush bulky disposable items like nappies, sanitary towels or bags of animal waste down the toilet.

•           Check your drains.  Lift covers and inspect for blockages regularly and make sure drain grids are free of leaves, moss and residue from the washing machine or other material that could cause a blockage.

•           Make sure that all the drains and gullies are covered and replace damaged covers to prevent blockages.

•           Keep an eye on guttering and down pipes (which take water from the gutters to the drains) and make sure that they are not blocked with leaves and debris. 

If the kitchen sink is blocked or slow to empty there is probably a build up of grease or debris in the trap and waste pipe.

To clear the blockage, rub petroleum jelly around the plughole to protect the chrome and sink from damage, then use caustic soda, an enzyme or chemical cleaner according to its manufacturer’s instructions.  Hook any debris (such as hair or kitchen paper) clinging to the plug hole grid with a hook made from a piece of wire. 

If the sink is completely blocked, and water will not run away at all, place a sink plunger over the plug hole, block the overflow then firmly pump the plunger up and down for a few minutes to clear the blockage.  If this doesn’t clear the blockage, place a bucket under the sink, remove and clean the trap. If none of this works then it is time to call Drain Doctor for specialist assistance.

Visit www.draindoctor.co.uk or call 0800 70 71 72 for your nearest technician.


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