Oct 01 2013

Blocked Drains – Everything You Need to Know

plug_holeA blocked drain can be, quite simply, a nightmare to resolve. Who’s responsibility is it? Who pays for it? Who arranges for it to be unblocked? What if one of my neighbours blocked it?  First of all, drains and sewers fall into one of a number of categories:

  • Drain: A single pipeline, which conveys foul sewerage and/or surface water runoff from a single property. A drain is still a drain even if it goes past the boundary of your property until it joins a sewer.
  • Sewer: A pipeline, which normally conveys foul sewage and/or surface water runoff from more than one property. Sewers may either be public or private.
  • Public Sewer: A sewer, which has been adopted as a public sewer or was in use before the 1st October 1937 and is therefore the responsibility of the Statutory Undertaker.
  • Private Sewer: A sewer, which is not a public sewer. A private sewer is normally the responsibility of the owner/s of the property, which it serves. It may still be a private sewer under the public highway until it joins the public sewer.
  • Statutory Undertaker: the organisation responsible to maintenance of the drain or sewer, which is probably Thames Water.
To establish whether it’s a public or private sewer, you need to find out when your property was built:
  • If the property is built before 1st October 1937, and so long as there are two or more properties connected to the length of drain/sewer affected, it is the responsibility of the Statutory Undertaker – your wastewater company –  to clear.
  • For properties built after 1st October 1937, all drains/sewers are the responsibility of the owner/occupiers and any other properties connected to it, unless it is the main sewer.

If, having read the above, you’re happy it’s down to Thames Water to clear – and for the South Harrow area, it probably is – you can call them 24 hours a day on 0845 9200 800.  From experience, they’ll probably respond within a couple of hours.

To avoid confusion, in South Harrow, it’s Veolia Water who supply water, and Thames Water who handle the wastewater.  However, Veolia collect the wastewater element of the charge on behalf of Veolia.

Remember, if none of your rain water is diverted into the sewer, you may be eligible for a refund, rebate or reduction on the sewerage element of your bill.
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