Drainage issues

Blocked drains, advice on septic tanks, private treatment plants, soakaways and private sewage pumping stations.

How do I know if my drains are blocked and what should I do?

Blocked drains are usually noticeable by the fact that the toilet will no longer flush away, or the manhole covers outside are overflowing. There may also be a bad smell coming from the drains. You may not realise straightaway that your drains are blocked, or it may just be your neighbours that are experiencing these problems.

The responsibility for unblocking a private drain usually lies with the owner of the property served by it, until it reaches the property boundary or sewer. A sewer is pipework that drains more than one property, and Yorkshire Water are responsible for most of these in our area.

You can find useful advice on how drainage pipework connects to your property and who is responsible, on the Yorkshire Water website.

To report a blocked sewer please contact Yorkshire Water on Tel: 0345 1 24 24 24.

If you need to unblock your private drain, you may need to employ a drainage contractor. These can be found in your local telephone directory, or by an internet search, and we suggest you get more than one quote.

Please note: for blocked road gullies, please contact the council’s highways maintenance section.

Why do drains become blocked?

Why do drains become blocked?

Drains and sewers may become blocked for a variety of reasons. As they are continually in use, it is very easy for them to become blocked, either due to a build up of solid waste or a structural failure. If you notice that the water is not draining away properly after you have had a bath or when you empty a sink it is important that you take immediate action as it might mean that the drain already has a partial blockage. It is for this reason that they should be regularly checked and maintained.

However there are a few things that you should remember which should assist in avoiding common drainage problems.

Do not dispose of:

  • baby wipes, polish wipes, toilet wipes or cleaning wipes down the toilet, these should be thrown straight in the bin. They are tough and do not break down easily, becoming snagged on damaged drainpipes or detritus within the pipe. These are one of the most problematic items that we come across when dealing with blocked drains.

  • oil, fat or oily and fatty foods via the drainage system. If such waste is disposed of in this manner the fats and oils rapidly cool in the pipe which can then cause blockages or partial blockages. Even if oils and fats are disposed of in small amounts in this manner they can build up and have the same affect as large amounts. Such blockages can be very difficult to remove and are one of the most common causes of blocked drains.

  • nappies down the toilet, as these are also a major cause of blocked drains. They are large and tend to swell extensively and can be very difficult to unblock.

  • sanitary towels or condoms down the toilets as they do not break down very well and are known to cause blockages.

  • Cotton Buds down the toilet as they can easily become blocked in drainpipes, they do not break down and they trap larger items eventually causing a blockage.

  • rice, pasta, pearl barley or any other foods which swell when exposed to water. They can block both drains and traps (U-bends). If they get stuck in traps they can (along with most foods) go septic which can cause an unpleasant odour which may emanate from sinks and drains.

All of the above items should be disposed of in your normal household waste.

Where can I get advice on septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants?

Advice on operating a septic tank or small sewage treatment plant, including when you need to apply for a permit and where it is allowed to discharge, is available on the GOV.UK - septic tanks and treatment plants website.

Where can I find more information about land drainage and flooding?

Read more about internal drainage boards and local waterways, as well as issues to do with flooding.

How do I report pollution of a watercourse?

Read more about reporting pollution of a watercourse, such as a ditch, pond or river.

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