External flooding

Sewer flooding is distressing. We work hard to reduce the risk of sewer flooding – but prevention isn’t always possible. Find out what to do if a sewer has flooded outside your property.

Who to contact

  • it's important to contact your insurer immediately to tell them about any damage the flooding has caused inside your property. If you don’t, it may affect any insurance claims you need to make
  • call our 24-hour emergency number 0330 303 0368
  • let us know if any nearby properties have been affected, so we can help them too

What we will do
  • when possible, we’ll attend your property within six hours of you reporting the incident (in storms and flooding we may take longer to reach you)
  • we’ll call to let you know we’re on our way – so please make sure you provide us with your mobile number
  • when we see you, we’ll give you help and advice on what to do next
  • we’ll also ask questions about the flooding to help us understand the cause

If the flooding is caused by a problem on our sewerage network, we will:

  • carry out an initial external clean-up where possible within 24 hours. This includes removing excess liquid, cleaning debris, applying household disinfectant – this will remove all traces of bacteria within 24 to 48 hours
  • clear gardens of water and debris (bacteria are best killed by natural exposure to the sunlight’s ultra violet radiation)
  • clean and disinfect hard surfaces such as paths and drives.
Insurance claims

We will help with clean-up operations after flooding caused by our operations, unless insurance companies have agreed to make arrangements:

  • Contact your household insurance company immediately.
  • We have no strict liability for sewage flooding events that are beyond our control.
  • Claims for loss or damage must be directed to your own insurers who will provide advice on what action to take to ensure the terms and conditions of your policy are met.
What you can do
  • keep children and pets away from the flooded areas
  • throw away any affected fruit and vegetables growing in your garden
  • if it's safe to do so, take photos of the flooded area – as the levels may have subsided by the time we get there
  • pictures will help us work out why flooding has happened, and may help determine whether you’re entitled to a payment under our Guaranteed Standards of Service.

Help to stop this happening again

Sewers sometimes flood during or after heavy rain if they can't cope with the amount of water.

But often, flooding happens because of how we use our sewers and what we put down them. You can help avoid flooding – don't flush items such as:

  • wet wipes
  • nappies
  • sanitary towels
  • cotton buds
  • tampons and applicators
  • condoms
  • kitchen roll

Fat, oil and grease can also cause blockages if they’re poured down plugholes because they harden when they cool down. Find out how to keep pipes clear.


If you're worried about your land being contaminated

As most contaminants will be on or near the surface, they’ll be exposed to the sun’s ultra-violet rays which are very effective at killing bacteria. Independent laboratory tests show bacteria should soon reduce to normal levels, in the following conditions:

  • during warm, dry summer weather – after nine days
  • during damper, cooler spring/autumn conditions – after 20 days
  • during cold, wet weather – after 25 days

 Why might you need to investigate further?

Guaranteed standards of service payment

If you've experienced external flooding caused by a failure of our drainage system, you may claim an amount equivalent to half your annual sewerage charges, from a minimum of £75 to a maximum of £500.

To claim, complete an application form within three months of the incident – download the External Flooding claim form or call us on 0330 303 0368 to be sent one by post.

These payments are not compensation or an admission of liability.

We can’t make these payments if:

  • the flooding was caused by your actions
  • the flooding was caused by exceptional rainfall
  • our investigation confirms that the flooding was caused by a third party issue, such as surface water running off land, an overflowed river, a problem with a private or highway drain.

Conditions may apply. Follow the link for a list of all exceptions and further information:

 Guaranteed Standards of Services

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