I have a blocked drain

Here’s everything you need to know about how to deal with a blocked drain.

How do I know if I have a blocked drain?

Typical signs of a blocked drain in your home include gurgling noises or water levels rising. These symptoms can come from anywhere where water leaves the house, such as a toilet, sink, washing machine or dishwasher.


Who owns what?

How you deal with your blocked drain will depend on whether it’s caused by a problem in the public sewer or in your own household system.

To find out which it is, follow the checklist below.

What to do if you have a blocked drain: a checklist
  1. Check if your neighbour is having the same problem.
    • If your neighbour is having the same problem, then call us straightaway on 0330 303 0368 (calls charged at a local rate). Tell us how old your property is, if you can.
  2. If your neighbour isn’t having the same problem, it might still be our responsibility.
    • Call us and we’ll let you know.
  3. In either case (our responsibility or your own) please do the following:
    • Keep yourself, children and pets out of the contaminated area.
    • Wash and treat the shoes you’ve been wearing with a mild disinfectant.
    • Wash your hands if you think they might have been infected.
    • It’s unlikely, but if you do feel ill, contact your doctor.


What we’ll do, if it’s our problem
  1. When you call, we’ll ask you specific questions to try to work out if the problem is in a public pipe or your own system.
  2. If we can’t work out where exactly the problem is, we’ll visit your property to investigate.
  3. If the problem is caused by our sewage system, we’ll do the following things:
    • A basic wash down of the area
    • Clear the blockage outside the property and ensure everything is flowing properly and you can flush the toilet
    • Disinfect the area. This should remove any bacteria within 24-48 hours
    • Clear your garden of any water or debris. We won’t use disinfectant in the garden as bacteria dies in natural sunlight. But we’ll clean and disinfect hard surfaces such as paths and drives.
  4. If, once we get to your home, it turns out the problem is on your property, you’ll need to sign a consent form giving us permission to do the work before we start.
    • We won’t charge you if it’s the first time we’ve been called to your property. If it’s not the first time, and the block’s in the same place as it was the previous time, we might have to charge you. We’ll explain it all before the visit.
    • If the problem will take longer than half an hour for us to solve, you’ll need to get your own contractor.

What to do if your house or garden is flooded with sewage water.


What you need to do, if it’s your responsibility

1. You’ll need to hire a drains specialist. You may need to speak to your household insurers too. Get several quotes before hiring anyone. Here’s a list of business directories that might help:

2. If your hired specialist tells you the problem is in a shared section of the sewer, please don’t pay them to do the work as private contractors are not allowed to work on public sewers. Instead, call us on 0330 303 0368 and we’ll do the work.


Protect your home from blocked drains

Here’s a list of things you can do around your home to keep your drains moving freely and avoid blocks:

  • Never pour fat down the sink. It should go into a container and then into the bin. More than half of all sewer flooding is caused by the build-up of fat, oil and grease in pipes.
  • Never pour motor oil, paint and other waste either down the sink or directly into rainwater drains. A lot of rainwater drains flow into rivers and coastal waters and will harm wildlife and the environment.
  • Only flush the three Ps (pee, poo and loo paper) down the toilet. Wipes, sanitary products, nappies and cotton pads or buds go in the bin – or they’ll block your drains.
  • Sometimes appliances such as washing machines and even toilets can get connected to the wrong pipes. That means untreated water is flowing directly into rivers and coastal water harming wildlife and the environment. Visit connectright.org.uk for advice on checking your connections.