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If you are experiencing drainage problems but unsure what or where the problem is, it may be a good idea to employ a drainage company to come and check the area. Usually they will investigate drains or sewers below manhole covers, by using coloured dyes which can identify the specific sections of the drainage network that pose a problem.

They may also plug the lower end of the drain and run water through it to check whether it hold water and thus identify potential leaks, and also blockages if the water doesn’t drain away quickly when unplugged.

In other cases they have the ability to send a camera down the drain network which can help to identify blockages or collapsed pipes. This method is often used if manual access is difficult or dangerous, but is extremely useful in inspecting the drains or sewers if the source of the problem is unclear.

The responsibility of drains usually lies with the property owner up to the point where the drains meet with public sewers. You can contact your local water company who can confirm whether the problem pipework belongs to them, in which case they will clear it and in some cases you may be able to arrange for them to deal with parts of the drains that are your responsibility. It is also a good idea to check your insurance policy as you may be covered for problems with drains.

Another possibility is that you may be experiencing drainage problems that derive from neighbouring properties. Speak to your neighbours but if it is unclear where the source is coming from, then you can contact your local environmental health who can arrange for someone to investigate it further and sometimes carry out the repairs, but the cost may be recovered from the home owner who carries responsibility.

If the problem is due to tree roots, then cutting tools can be used to cut through them before the piping is realigned to prevent it happening again. If a drain is broken or cracked and causing a leak, excavation can usually be avoided using various methods. If it is necessary to excavate the land in order to reline any of the pipes, then you must notify the local authority of intention to repair or alter the course of a drain.

If your property has a septic tank or soakaway, it is important to have them de-sludged annually or as and when need, in order to prevent potential problems. If there is no inspection chamber for the drainage network on your land, or it has been filled in, then it may be necessary to dig down and break into the piping which can cause various problems and prove costly. But whatever the situation may be, a quick response to dealing with problem drains is important in order to prevent the possibility of more serious problems occurring, such as structural subsidence due to movement in the ground beneath your property.

by Cormac Henderson

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