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A Beginners Guide To Repairing Drains & Sewers

When your drains or sewers need repairing, you might be left scratching your head and wondering who is responsible. It’s important that you’re clear on whose responsibility it is before having any work carried out, which is why this month at 1st Call Drain Clearance & Technical Services, we’re going to walk you through the topic.

This guide is intended for beginners on the subject; those with more experience in water mains and network mapping will likely be able to establish these facts on their own.


What is the difference between a drain and a sewer?

Let’s start by defining the difference between a drain and a sewer, because they’re not exactly the same and this can make things confusing when talking about the responsibilities of different parties.

A drain is a length of pipe that allows water and waste to be carried from a building. Sometimes known as a lateral drain if shared with a neighbour, this pipe takes wastewater away from your property and connects to a sewer outside of your property boundary. This is commonly something you don’t see, as they usually connect under roads and pavements.

Sewers are where all the wastewater from your property and surrounding properties connect to be channelled away. The upkeep and proper running of the sewers beneath the roads and pavements are the responsibility of your local water company, unless the sewer is still privately owned. 

In some scenarios, you may not be connected to a general sewer system. In this situation, you’ll have a cesspool or septic tank on your property.


What are a homeowner’s responsibilities?

As a homeowner, the drains within your property boundary are your responsibility. That means you have to arrange repairs or replacements if things go wrong. It’s up to you who you choose to carry out the work, but some people may have drain repairs covered in their insurance policy — always check with the provider of your building insurance to find out if your drains are covered.

If it’s a lateral drain that is shared with another property, this becomes the responsibility of your local water company. In extreme cases, the environmental health department can order you to have work carried out on your drains if they believe it is causing a larger problem, such as blockages.


What are the water company’s responsibilities?

Because the sewers are part of a public network to remove waste water away from properties, they’re often taken care of by local water companies. This wasn’t always the case, and there are still some private and unadopted sewers — we’ll get to those shortly.

You can contact your local water company if you believe there is a problem with sewers nearby, and likewise, they may need to contact you about access to your property if they believe there is an issue pertaining to your system specifically. 


What happens if you have a private or unadopted sewer?

Private or unadopted sewers are rare but not unheard of. They’re more likely for sites such as blocks of flats or caravan parks where the system is shared by multiple properties. This means that any parties sharing that sewer system also share responsibility for any maintenance or repair work required. You can be ordered to have any necessary work carried out by your local environmental health department, so it pays to work with your neighbours if your sewer falls into this category.

If all parties agree, the private or unadopted sewer can be taken over by the local water company, but they will need to be happy that the drains are up to standard and that their taking over of it will benefit the system overall.


Expert drain and sewer repairs from 1st Call Drain Clearance & Technical Services

If your drainage system is blocked or causing issues on your property, give our expert team at 1st Call Drain Clearance & Technical Services a call. As a dedicated drainage company, we offer drain repairs and sewer repairs for homeowners and commercial businesses alike, helping you to keep your property running smoothly and your day on track.

Wherever you are in Central London and Brentford, we’re here to help if the issue is within your boundaries. Simply get in touch today to book an appointment or if you need further guidance on part of the network is your responsibility.

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