Debris like twigs and leaves can gradually build up over time and cause serious problems for your drainage system. Dead birds, mice and rats can also block your pipes and be difficult to remove, especially if the area can only be accessed by a ladder. In this situation, it is best to contact a reputable drainage company rather than attempt to resolve the problem yourself, because of the risk of injury.
Blocked kitchen sinks – every cook’s worst nightmare
Another very common drainage problem is a blocked sink, which is caused when excess food builds up in the pipe beneath the sink. Buy a plumbing device that is the correct size for your sink, or if the problem is more serious, contact your plumber for a professional repair. To prevent this problem from reoccurring, make sure you clear all food off your crockery and cooking utensils when you use your sink.
An easy way to do this is to wash each item over a colander or sieve before removing all the leftover food into the bin.
In most UK winters, thousands of homeowners have to contend with burst pipes, caused when water freezes, expands, and cracks the surface of a pipe. This results in leaking when temperatures rise above freezing point, and can be expensive to repair.
Burst pipes – a problem that requires urgent action
During a bout of severe winter weather in the last four days of November 2010, fire crews had to attend to 163 floods in London caused by burst pipes. As they are considered an emergency, you must turn off your water supply immediately and try to thaw any remaining ice with hot water. To prevent any further pipe bursts in very cold weather, you must insulate your pipes and keep your heating on low to prevent ice from building up.
If you’re away from your home during a period of very cold weather, it might be worth contacting a friend, relative or neighbour to periodically inspect it to check for frozen pipes.
Without doubt, the most unpleasant and tedious drainage problem is a blocked toilet, which is not only a major source of inconvenience but can also result in foul odours, especially in warm weather. Common causes of blocked toilets (excusing the most obvious!) include excessive loo roll and non-biodegradable materials, ie items that do not naturally break down over time.
Other common debris that can be transported via toilets include food and hair, which can slow down the drainage process before blocking the network altogether.
Is your neighbour responsible?
Don’t always assume that a blocked toilet is your fault. Many semi-detached and terraced houses have shared pipes, which means a blocked toilet next door can also result in a blockage in your home. In this scenario, it is best to discuss the problem with your neighbour and see if their insurer will pay for any plumbing costs, should you require them. You can also unblock the toilet yourself with a plumbing device, although this may not be effective if the blockage is particularly serious.
Remember – almost everyone experiences drainage problems in their homes
Virtually all homeowners will encounter blocked drains at some point, regardless of whether or not it is their fault. Fortunately, by following some simple, consistent techniques, you can keep your drainage issues to a minimum and keep your pipes operating as normal.
Fraser Ruthven is the Marketing Associate for London Drainage Facilities, established in 2006 and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week LDF have built up an outstanding reputation for their exceptional level of service.