Well-designed drainage and sewerage systems that have been installed and tested correctly should last for many years without needing any attention. Eventually, however, these networks will require maintenance or repair works – especially if they haven’t been regularly cleaned, or they have been prone to blockages over the years.
If something goes wrong with your drains, it’s always handy to know whether you, as the property owner, will need to fix the damage, or whether it’s up to your local water authority to arrange the remedial works and foot the bill.
In this article, we’re going to talk you through who’s responsible for what – and what you need to do if and when an issue arises.
As a homeowner, what am I responsible for?
Back in the olden days, the rules surrounding drain ownership were pretty murky. Homeowners didn’t just have to fork out to fix the drains on their own land – in most cases, they also had to look after their lateral drains, aka the pipes that carry wastewater away to the main sewer.
Fast forward to now, and the law makes much more sense. Thanks to the Private Sewers Transfer Regulations, which came into force in the UK in October 2011, you only need to maintain the drains and drain covers that fall within your boundary lines and are actually connected to your property.
You are not responsible for any pipework that connects your drains with a neighbouring drainage system, links with the main sewer line, or leaves your property boundary. It’s as simple as that.
If there are problems with these parts of your drainage network – whether caused by obstructions, root ingress, poor maintenance or general wear and tear – it’s not up to you to carry out the repairs, nor pay for them.
A note on sewerage systems and other public facilities
All mainline sewers are looked after by the area’s water supplier. However, if the sewer that services your property hasn’t yet been adopted by a sewerage provider, then it’s up to you to look after it. It’s one of the disadvantages of being off grid, we’re afraid.
Local water companies and/or sewer authorities are also in charge of maintaining, repairing and replacing manhole and drain covers that appear on our streets, pavements and parks, and in other public areas.
How do I find out if the works are the responsibility of my neighbour or the water supplier?
If you’re convinced that the offending drain falls outside of your property, but you’re not sure who needs to step up to the plate to get it sorted, the best thing to do is call our expert drainage contractors. One of our engineers will visit your property to carry out an onsite CCTV drainage survey, which will not only help them identify the problem, but also allow them to find out exactly where it is within the network, and therefore whose remit it falls under.
Handily, we can also carry out mainline sewer inspections on your water company’s behalf, if they need us to.
What do I do next?
Quite understandably, you will want to get any lingering drainage issues dealt with ASAP. This can be tricky if you’re not the one in the driving seat, though. If you have told your neighbour about a blocked drain on their property, and they are dragging their heels when it comes to fixing it, you can contact your local council office and ask them to serve an enforcement notice. It’s a last resort, but it works!
If your sewer or lateral drain is the issue, you will need to contact Anglian Water, the company which is responsible for supplying water and water recycling services to all homes in Essex (and much of the East of England). They will assess the site themselves and take charge of the situation from there.
Turns out the work is my responsibility. What do I do now?
Call us, of course! Ask Us Drains offers a full range of domestic drainage services. You can rely on us to get the job done in the most effective and cost-efficient way possible. Having a large Essex-based team on hand means we can even be with you in plumbing and drainage emergencies – and because we’re approved by the National Association of Drainage Contractors (NADC), you know our work is going to be of the highest standards.
If your home insurance covers drain-related problems, there’s every chance your chosen insurance provider will be able to reimburse you for any repair or maintenance works. Be sure to check the small print on your agreement.
What if my local environmental health department asks me to carry out drain improvements?
It’s quite rare, but sometimes your local authority will be in touch to request you make changes to your existing drainage system. This usually only happens if:
- The council think the drain that’s servicing your property is too small
- There’s a blockage in your private drain that’s affecting other properties, or;
- They believe your drain needs to be fixed or replaced for safety reasons.