There have been a lot of grey areas over the years when it comes to drains, which has long been incredibly confusing for property owners. As a general rule when it comes to who is responsible for drains, the easiest way to look at it is – if a drain runs inside the boundaries of your property, you are usually responsible for it. However, that doesn’t tell the complete story, and the confusion often lies in the various types of pipes so it may be helpful to have a look at this in more detail.

Are drains and sewers the same?

These are often confused, but a drain is a pipe that takes waste and water away from a property, usually to connect to a series of pipes just off the property. These public pipes include sewers, which collect water and waste from the drains of lots of different properties, in order to take them off to sewage plants.

Not every property will have access to these sewers though, instead having a stand-alone septic tank, treatment plant or cesspool. As these are separate to the public sewage system, they are usually privately owned, so the owner of the property takes full responsibility for them.

There is a third type of drain, the lateral drain. These are lengths of pipe that carry wastewater towards the sewers, away from the property. They usually run away from your property boundary, under a pavement or road, but they may also run under your property depending on your situation – for example if you share a sewer with neighbours.

Who is responsible for drains?

In October 2011, changes were made in determining who is responsible for drains in the Transfer of Private Sewers Regulations 2011. This transferred a lot of responsibility on to the property owners, both for their own drains and lateral drains. This has, though, made understanding who is responsible for drains much more straightforward.

Under the new rules, the main thing to consider is: are the drains inside your property boundaries, and are they connected to your property? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, it is likely that you are responsible for the drain.

You relinquish responsibility for a drain pipe at the point that it connects with an outside network of pipes, for example the main sewer line or a neighbour’s, or when it passes outside of your property boundary.

What should you do if your drains are blocked or damaged?

Even with the new streamlined regulations to determine who is responsible for drains, if you find that you are having a problem it is still a stressful time and it is not always clear what should be done, and who should do it.

For example, a blockage may be causing you an issue within your home, but identifying exactly where the blockage is, and therefore who is responsible for fixing it, is rarely straightforward.

If you suspect the problem is with the sewers, and away from your property boundaries, then it is a good idea to get in touch with your water company who will inspect and repair as necessary.

However, if you suspect that the problem is within the boundaries of your property, you need to take action. The best idea, initially, is to speak to a company that can conduct a full survey to discover exactly where the problem is, the extent of it, and how best to fix it.

How can Ideal Response help you?

Our CCTV drain surveys are perfect for you if you are trying to locate a problem with your drains. Using our industry leading technology, we can reach extremely long lengths, without the need for costly and time consuming excavation.

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We can provide you with a full survey, detailing exactly where any issues (such as blockages or cracks in the pipework) are present, and we can even highlight problems before they happen. We can show you a live feed using our sophisticated CCTV equipment, and also provide you with a digital file for help in planning any work that is required, or providing evidence to insurance companies.

We can be with you within two hours of your call, and our highly trained staff in a friendly and professional manner to produce a survey that will not only provide you with information about your drains, but also a list of recommended next steps, if we feel that further work is needed. Get in touch with us today.

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