Drainage Specialists - what you need to know
Drainage specialists tackle a lot of reactive work. They tend to be brought in whenever there’s a problem to sort out. They repair drains and deal with other sewerage issues like blockages. As well as the tell-tale signs of water not draining away in a sink or toilet bowl, there can be signs of a blockage outside your home too. Cracks in a path near a tree can be a sign that the tree roots are interrupting the sewer line. A specialist can bore the sewer line open, get rid of the roots, treat them to stop them from growing again and then replace or reline the pipe.
What a drainage specialist can help with
- Repairing drains and dealing with sewerage problems.
- Emptying septic tanks.
- Installing septic tanks or soakaways.
Some houses don’t have a pipe carrying waste away from their property. Instead, they have septic tanks to collect waste. If you have one of these, you’ll need to get a drainage specialist to empty it for you otherwise you’re flouting the environment agency’s rules. By law, only people who have permits to dispose of waste can take it away.
The qualifications your drainage specialist needs
While not strictly a qualification, a drainage specialist will need to have a contract with sewerage treatment works to dispose of waste. The environment agency requires a company to have an environment permit to dispose of waste like this. Septic tank waste will be taken by a tanker to sewerage treatment works where it’s passed to the works inlet. If a sewer’s blocked, it’ll be emptied into a tanker while any repairs are made and the tanker will then pass decanted spirits back into the sewerage network.
How to unblock a drain
Most pipe blockages are caused by hair in the shower or bath. You can solve this by pulling up the stopper in the plughole and removing any hair that’s wound itself around the rod. Sometimes, you’ll need to unscrew the nut which holds the sink and rod together to do this.
If your kitchen sink’s blocked, you can try pouring half a cup of baking soda down the drain and then follow it up with half a cup of white vinegar but most of the time, DIY remedies like this won’t do much good unless it’s cooking fat that’s causing the problem. Before calling out a plumber, you can also try running water into the sink and letting it block up a little before placing a plunger over the plughole. After that, cover the overflow with a damp cloth and pump until the water drains away. For bigger drainage problems, including issues that are affecting the outside of your house, it’s worth calling in a drainage specialist to have a look.
How do you maintain a septic tank?
Septic tanks need to be emptied regularly. If you have a family of four, you should empty the tank once a year and if there are two of you living in a house, it’ll need to be emptied every two years.
Planning permission for drainage jobs
Unless you live in a listed building, you won’t need to apply for planning permission for repairs, maintenance and minor jobs but you should check with your local planning authority that any work beyond this is covered by your permitted development rights.
You should also clarify ownership and responsibility of any drain or sewer before starting any maintenance or repair work. They might be shared with neighbours or owned by a sewerage undertaker. Normally, drainage inside your property’s boundaries is your responsibility while a sewerage company is responsible for drains outside of property boundaries along with sewers. There are still a few private sewers around so if your property is served by one of these, the responsibility for maintaining it might fall with you.
Building regulations for drainage jobs
Building regulations may come into play for drainage if you’re building an extension or making alterations, including making your roof larger. If you’re building a patio or driveway, a tradesperson will need to think about the sizing of the soakaway and how surface water will drain away.
Drainage will also need to be considered if you’re connecting pipes in kitchen and bathroom sinks to make sure they’re not at risk of blocking up and they can be easily got to if that does happen. Any pipework will also need to be ventilated to stop air from travelling up from the drains and being released into your house. Generally, it’ll be your builder, conservatory installer or driveway specialist that needs to comply with the building regulations rather than a drainage specialist.
Insurance for drainage work
There’s no legal obligation for drainage specialists to be insured but it’s recommended that a drainage specialist purchases public liability insurance so they’re covered in the case of an injury or accidental damage to a property.
Questions you should ask a drainage specialist
- How long have they been trading?
- Do they have public liability insurance and what does this cover?
- Have they got a permit to dispose of waste/a contract with a company that has a permit?
- Will it be themselves carrying out the work? If not, what experience does the person have and are they covered by insurance?
- How long does the warranty for the work last?
See the latest questions that homeowners have been asking drainage specialists.
Find out how to keep your home’s pipework in order and read more about unblocking a sink. If the toilet’s blocked, you can try attempting a DIY fix but if in doubt or the problem still persists, bring in a drainage specialist as a first port of call.