Help and Contact
Our customer guide to sewer flooding
This guide is to support customers who have experienced a sewer flood.
This guide provides information about; your drain ownership and what support customers can expect from Severn Trent.
Types of flooding
Sewer flooding can affect a number of areas
When wastewater has entered your property under the floor and/or attached/integral garages if there is an adjoining door to the main building.
When wastewater has entered your garden (within your property boundary) but not entered your property and/or an attached
garage with no adjoining door to inside the property.
Public area flooding
When wastewater has flooded onto a public area which could include highways, footpaths and open spaces.
Such as farmland, car parks etc.
What to do if you experience a sewer flood
Call us on 0800 783 4444
If your home is flooded and you think it’s because of the public sewerage network, contact us.
We’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our friendly customer operations team will help you work out what’s caused the flood over the phone and what to do about it. If they can’t quite get to the bottom of it, they’ll arrange for someone to visit your property and take a look.
It might take us longer to reach you in situations of severe weather. Don’t worry - we’ll keep you updated of our timescales. When you call, please let us know if you have any individual needs or requirements.
We will endeavour to support you in the best way we can. During these times, if safe to do so, taking photos or videos of the flooding would help us assist our understanding and aids any further investigations that may be required.
Contact your insurer
After you’ve called us, it’s best to immediately get in touch with your insurer to let them know what’s happened.
Any loss or damage that has been caused by a flood should be covered by your home insurance. It’s a good idea to check your insurance regularly, because it’s up to you to check you’re properly covered.
If you have already taken some pictures or videos of the flooding damage, make sure you save them as these can help you with your claim.
Your home insurer should be able to:
- Arrange a professional clean up
- Replace anything that’s damaged
- Arrange alternative accommodation
Remember, if you don’t tell your insurer about something like sewer flooding, it could invalidate your Policy in the future.
If your gas meter or any gas appliance was submerged in the flood, don’t turn on the gas or light any appliances until you’ve spoken to your gas supplier.
If any of your electrics (the meter, fuse box, any appliances or sockets) have been submerged, don’t turn any of them on until you’ve spoken to your electricity supplier. Your home insurance may also be able to help with this.
We will send out an engineer
We will work hard to get an engineer to your property as quickly as possible to capture evidence of the flooding.
Our engineer, where possible, will advise of next steps
After our engineer has visited your home, one of our flood experts will carry out a detailed review of your situation.
They will be seeking to establish the exact cause/s of the flooding.
They will also be looking at what options there may be to help prevent any reoccurrence.
Our flood expert will get in touch to update you on the findings of our review and explain what happens next and chat through the options.
We know it’s not nice to experience a sewer flood so we will go some way to support you with the costs of experiencing a flooding.
For more information on this please see the Guaranteed Standards Scheme section in this guide or read our Code of Practice.
Which drains are yours
Sewers are designed to take away sewage from your home for treatment and in some areas, rainfall from things like roofs.
As the population grows and people pave over their driveways, more of our green spaces are covered over.
This means that we’ve lost some of the natural drainage we had before.
This, combined with a changing climate and heavier bursts of rain, means our sewers are working harder than ever.
When they get too full, or there is a blockage, the sewers can sometimes flood.
Causes of sewer blockages
75% of all our sewer blockages are caused by wrong things being put down the sink or loo.
When this happens, it builds up over time, stopping the normal flow of wastewater, which might flood your home or garden. That’s something none of us want to happen.
Sewer flooding caused by heavy rain
Most sewer flooding is caused by the wrong things being put down the sink or loo causing a blockage. However, flooding can also be caused by prolonged periods of intense heavy rainfall which can overwhelm the sewers, and in some cases they’re unable to carry the extra water away quickly enough.
Often flooding caused by heavy rain can be difficult to solve as there may be several contributing factors such as flooded rivers and water courses, or highway drainage. These are the responsibility of other agencies who we’ll work in partnership with to help alleviate the flooding.
Our aim will be to prioritise our customers who are worst affected by severe flooding and look for ways to help protect their homes in the future.
When Severn Trent is responsible for my sewer flood
We work really hard to encourage people not to misuse our sewers, and we ask everyone to only flush the 3Ps (pee, paper and poo). However, we know that sometimes other items make their way into the sewer and cause blockages and flooding.
Our sewers are an open network so we can’t control what gets put into them. This is different to the closed clean water network.
If the sewer flooding comes from our sewer pipes then we are usually responsible for clearing this up. This doesn’t mean we are liable for causing the flooding.
If your home insurance company believe we are liable for the sewer flood, they will contact us.
As a matter of course we ask that any query comes from your insurer as they’re best placed to make these enquiries.
Sometimes we aren’t always able to fix the problem first time. If the job is more complex than initially believed, or we need do further investigation - we may need to revisit your property at a later date.
Instances where we would be required to revisit would be if we needed to:
- Carry out a sewer cleanse
- Carry out a root cut
- Carry out a sewer repair
If you have any questions about the above, the engineer at your property will be able to help you.
How Severn Trent can support me when there is sewer flooding at my property
We know that a sewer flooding is not a nice experience. We will try to support you as best we can e.g. disinfecting external affected hard surface areas.
For more information about our products and services please see the Sewer Flooding Products and Services.
Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS)
We work hard to look after any drains and sewers that form part of our network (the public sewerage network). If you have a sewer flooding at your property, we will come out and investigate.
If we confirm the flooding has been caused by the public sewerage network, we will resolve this issue and carry out a basic external clean-up of the surrounding area.
Where a flood has been caused by something out of our control, we aren’t liable for any loss or damage to your personal belongings. For example, if the flood was caused by a one-off blockage in our sewer pipes and we cleared it quickly, we have acted reasonably so won’t be liable.
Where a flood has been caused by our public sewers or our drains, the Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) can help. The GSS is a statutory scheme used by the whole water industry for customers where our customer service standards aren’t meeting the level required by the industry.
So, if there’s been a flood inside or outside your home that was caused by the public sewers, you might be entitled to a GSS payment. We will let you know in writing if you are eligible for a payment. We’ll make the GSS payment application for you and you will normally be paid within 20 days.
If 20 days have passed and you still haven’t been paid, you’ll also receive a late payment. Please note, any GSS payments do not mean that Severn Trent is liable for other claims. GSS payments are entirely separate from other claims.
We often can’t tell you at the time of the event whether you are eligible for a GSS payment. Our teams will look into this after the event and contact you in writing if you are due one of our GSS payments. Here’s a quick explanation of the few occasions when you won’t be entitled to a payment. This is when:
- The incident isn’t classed as flooding and instead is classed as an escape of sewage which is a small flooding contained in an isolated area.
- If we attend your home and there is no evidence of flooding e.g. the flooding has been cleaned up.
- The flood has been caused by extreme weather, that is above a 1 in 30-year storm.
- The blockage that caused the flood is found to be private.
- The flood was caused by a customer putting the wrong things down the drain, like fats, oils, wipes, among other things.
- The flood was caused by bursting riverbanks that have prevented the sewers from flowing as they should.
- The incident is caused by a river flooding.
- The incident is caused by surface water flooding from a source which Severn Trent has no responsibility
Remember, any GSS payment you receive is separate from, and in addition to, any other claims you make to your insurance provider.
For more information on our GSS process and payment structure, please visit our Code of Practice.
How Severn Trent can support me in the future
We understand that sometimes we find ourselves in difficult situations. During this time the last thing you want to think about is a sewer flooding therefore we’re here to support you.
Please let us know about any changes in yours or your families circumstances so we can support you as best as possible.
Who else can help
You should contact your insurance company if you experience flooding and damage to your property. They should be able to help replace any damaged belongings.
The highway authority are responsible if the flooding is coming from a highway drain or a gully in the road (the ones with holes you can drop keys down). You’ll need to contact Highways England for busier and larger routes, such as motorways and dual carriageways and your local County Council for flooding on smaller roads.
The Environment Agency manage the flood risk from main rivers. For information and advice on what to do before, during and after a flood, you can go to environment-agency.gov.uk.
The Lead Local Flood Authority
The Lead Local Flood Authorities manage local flood risks including surface water, groundwater and rivers or streams that are not main rivers and classified as an ordinary watercourse.
National Flood Forum
The National Flood Forum is a national charity dedicated to supporting and representing communities and individuals at risk of flooding. You can visit nationalfloodforum.org.uk for more information and resources.
Flood Re provide help for households that are at greatest risk of flooding. They help to make flood cover more widely available and affordable as part of home insurance. You can visit www.floodre.co.uk/ for more information.
Private drainage companies
These companies provide advice on dealing withissues on private sewers and drains.
Sewer Flooding Products and Services
|Free call out service to any sewer flooding job||
We operate a free call out service where our engineers will attend your property to investigate any cases of sewer flooding.
Our customer service team will be able to give you timescales of when our engineers will attend your property.
We recommend speaking with your home insurers as soon as you can.
If the blockage is found to be private, we can offer a blockage clearance chargeable service.
|Standard sewage clean up cover included – external only||
To support you we will complete a standard external sewage clean up at your property, if possible, where an external clean-up can be achieved without damaging and/or removing lawns, landscaped gardens, gravel and garden furniture.
This clean up includes removal of water by suction, removal of most solids and fibrous material and the disinfection of affected external hard surface areas.
If there is a risk to damaging, removing or altering your property we will recommend an alternative course of action for you to take.
|Advice and after care support to help get your home back to normal||To help get your home back to normal, as quickly as possible, we will provide you with some information around what you should and shouldn’t do in the first few weeks after your sewer flooding.|
|Removal and replacement of goods inside the house
We won’t remove/ replace carpets, flooring or items of furniture inyour property.
Please contact your insurance company.
|Removal and replacement of goods outside the house
We also won’t replace or remove gravel or items from the garden e.g. sheds/ plants/ grass etc.
|Cause any further damage to your property
||We cannot wash down/ jet surfaces where we could potentially further damage your property.
Protecting my home from sewer flooding
We do not recommend attempting to try to clear a drain/sewer blockage yourself. Contact Severn Trent as our teams have the correct equipment to deal with sewer blockages and flooding.
If flood water is likely to enter your property use sandbags or boards if available to protect doors and airbricks.
Try to move furniture and valuables upstairs or place them somewhere safe, if safe and able to do so.
What actions should I take after a sewer flooding at my home?
- As a result of internal sewer flooding, you will need to revert to your household insurance for any clean up.
- Where possible our team will pump out the water, removing solids and sewer litter if this can be achieved without damaging fixtures and fittings or causing damage or contamination to other parts of the property.
- We may be able to provide a refund on your sewerage charge. However, we cannot:
- Dry out your property.
- Remove or replace damaged items.
- Replace any structural damage.
- Provide alternative accommodation.
- Pay compensation for loss or damage to your contents or property.
- Immediately contact your insurance company for advice particularly if items such as carpets or soft furnishings have been damaged, need further cleansing or to be replaced.
- Take pictures of all damaged items, your insurance company may need these to process your claim.
- Keep windows open wherever possible to remove any disinfectant odours.
- Avoid any additional heating in affected areas during the first 48 hours as higher room temperatures may prolong the life of the bacteria.
- If you need to enter affected rooms in the 48 hours following the initial clean up, you are advised to adopt normal basic hygiene precautions. Therefore, avoid touching your mouth and wash your hands afterwards.
- We will carry out a standard cleanup in your garden and outside your house. Any excess liquid will be removed along with any solids and debris.
- As sunlight and drying out kills viruses and bacteria and, the lack of sunlight and damp conditions will prolong the life of the bacteria.
Get in touch with us if you have any questions
If you have further questions about the above guide, please contact us using web messenger, social media or get in touch by calling us on 0800 783 4444 and someone will be able to support you with your query.