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What to do if you have a blocked drain

The causes of blocked pipes and drains, and how to clear them.

Blocked pipes can stop used water draining away, which can be unpleasant to deal with and something you’ll want to get sorted quickly.

We can help clear blockages in our public sewer network

However, sometime blockages occur on your own private sewer pipes or drains, so you may need to hire a plumber or an independent drainage company to unblock it for you.

Signs you have a blockage

If you think you might have a blocked pipe or drain, there are some key signs to look out for.

If you have a blockage, you’ll notice: 

  • Your toilet taking more time to flush than normal
  • Bad smells coming from your drains
  • Water draining away or emptying slowly from the sink or bath
  • Waste or sewage coming back up in the toilet or sink

 

The causes of blocked pipes and drains

There are a few different reasons why blockages occur, but they're most often caused by items such as wet wipes and sanitary products that are flushed down the toilet, or by leftover cooking fats and oils poured down the kitchen sink.

These items stick together and over time they build up and block pipes and drains.

Our drains and sewers are only designed to carry human waste, wastewater and loo roll from your toilets and the used water from your sinks, baths and showers. 

You should put anything else, including wet wipes or sanitary products, in the bin.

Responsibility for clearing blockages

The responsibility for sewer pipes is split between us – the water company – and the homeowner.

If there’s a blockage in our sewers or pipework, we’ll clear it. If the blockage is in pipework in your property, you will be responsible for clearing and repairing it. 

 

Knowing if the blockage is in your drains or our sewers

There a couple of quick ways you can find out if the blockage is in your private pipework or not.

Check if your neighbours also have drainage problems

If your neighbours are having similar problems, that will likely indicate that the blockage is in our sewers or pipes. 

If your neighbours don’t have similar issues, it’s more likely that the blockage is in the drain pipes on your property.

Check if multiple rooms are affected

If you have more than one bathroom, check to see if there’s a difference between whether one toilet flushes better than the other, or if one sink drains more slowly.

If there’s a difference in flush or flow, it might indicate the blockage is in the pipes on your property internally.

 

Report sewer blockages to us

If there’s a blockage in our sewer network that’s affecting your property and possibly your neighbours, report the problem to us so we can get it fixed as soon as possible.

You can report a blockage by messaging us on WhatsApp or SMS, or you can call us on 0800 783 4444. We’re here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It’s important to understand who’s responsible for maintaining and repairing sewer pipes and drains, especially if something goes wrong.

Clearing blockages on your sewer pipes

A blocked drain, toilet or a clogged sink can be a hassle to sort and cause some unpleasant problems, so it’s important you get it cleared as soon as possible. 

Hire a plumber

If the blockage is on your internal pipework, you can hire a plumber to investigate and clear the blockage.

Hire an independent drainage company 

If the blockage is on external pipes or drains but within the boundary of your property you can hire an independent drainage company to investigate and clear it for you. 

Ask us to help

If you are unsure where the blockage is, you can ask us to investigate a blockage.

If we find that the blockage is in your private pipework, our engineers will discuss this with you as we may be able to clear it for £114.  

There is no obligation to use our service and you can choose to go with an independent drainage company. If you do choose to go with an independent drainage company our engineers will leave site. Unfortunately we cannot re-arrange to come back later to clear a blockage on your private pipes. 

If you would like to use our service, please let the engineer know.  One of our team will call you within 5 working days of the work being carried out to take payment from you. You can pay in full using either a debit or credit card. If you are unable to pay the balance in full, don’t worry, our team will help you to spread the cost by setting up a monthly Direct Debit payment plan for you.

The blockage clearance service is not always guaranteed.Sometimes if the engineer starts the blockage clearance and then discovers a more complex situation, such as a sewer collapse or roots in the pipes, they may not be able to fully resolve the issue and instead will advise you to contact a private contractor. 

If this is the case, you won’t be charged, and no payment will be requested. 

How to avoid blockages happening in the future

There are steps you can take to help avoid blockages caused by kitchen and bathroom waste.

Never get rid of paint or medicine by pouring them down the drain or flushing them down the loo.

Items like paint or medicine should always be disposed of safely using a hazardous waste disposal service. You can find a hazardous waste disposal service through your local council. 

Top tips to help avoid nasty blockages.

What to do if you experience sewer flooding

Making sure you're connected correctly.

Understanding who's responsible for which sewers.

Report any issues to our team. We're available 24/7.