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External drain unblockingĀ 

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 Si dH 04 Aug 2022

Bit of a random question which I wondered if anyone had experience with.

We have an external drain that has got blocked, I think by lime dust after the adjacent wall was recently ground out and repointed. I have tried industrial drain unblocker, which is sulphuric acid based, but it didn't work very well - I think because the acid just reacted with the water in the drain before reaching the blockage site. I haven't tried drain unblocker designed for inside pipes yet as I believe it's designed for removal of fatty residues etc which probably wouldn't help with lime dust/sludge. Does anyone have any ideas before I call someone to go in physically?

Many thanks 

Post edited at 08:44
 alan moore 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Si dH:

Get a man out. £60 last time we did it. 

 abr1966 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Si dH:

If you Google your water supplier there should be a description of their responsibilities relating to drains. Last time I had issues United Utilities sorted it out but that was something to do with it being a common sewer and also to do with the house being pre 1936 build (might be a year or two either side of this)....but definitely worth checking.

 Mark Edwards 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Si dH:

Amazon has a 3 meter drain auger for £4.57 which might be worth a go and then there are drain rods (an attachment for chimney sweeping set) if you have room to get them into the pipe.

 Rick Graham 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Mark Edwards:

Bin bag over arm and clear out the gully trap first. 

In reply to Si dH:

Screwfix will do drain rods for about £50.  It's a fairly crude (and disgusting)  but works. Push rod into drain to shunt the blockage along, attach another rod, repeat.  You can pay someone not that much to do pretty much the same thing.

 montyjohn 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Si dH:

Is it a public sewer or not?

If serving more than one property and built before 2011 or serving you but not on your land then it's a public sewer/lateral.

If it only serves you and is on your land then it's a private lateral drain.

If public, just call the water company.

If private I would buy a set of cheap flexible rods and have at it. You've got them for next time them. Is it accessible from a nearby manhole or grating?

 Hardonicus 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Si dH:

Just get some drain rods, assuming you have a suitable access point. You can also get a brush attachment for them which will allow you to sweep your chimney(s) and save yourself a fortune.

Post edited at 10:25
 Rick Graham 04 Aug 2022
In reply to montyjohn:

> Is it a public sewer or not?

> If serving more than one property and built before 2011 or serving you but not on your land then it's a public sewer/lateral.

> If it only serves you and is on your land then it's a private lateral drain.

> If public, just call the water company.

> If private I would buy a set of cheap flexible rods and have at it. You've got them for next time them. Is it accessible from a nearby manhole or grating?

All true, but from the description in the OP its most likely its his gully trap that is blocked and so not the utility company  problem ( unless the lime wash out has progressed to  and set in a public section).

Regarding own use rods, don't try unless you know how to use them correctly. Rule 1 , always twist the rods clockwise after every push or pull. Otherwise you may end up with loose sections stuck underground.

All in all, its probably safest to get the drains professionally cleaned , jetted and checked by camera. Clearing out the initial blockage may leave problems further down pipe that will cause future  blockages. 

 fmck 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Si dH:

I had something similar happen. I scooped out as much liquid as I could. I then stuck my arm down into the trap and found a layer of weak grout had set on the surface.

In reply to Si dH:

Sounds like it needs rodding. If that doesn't work, get someone out to jet it. Jetting is basically shoving a high pressure jet washer down the drain to break up the blockage. The nozzle usually has a single jet firing forwards, and several firing backwards propelling it along the drain into the blockage. 

 nniff 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Si dH:

A set of rods is always worth having - not least of all because drains have the same sensor as photocopiers/printers, which tells them when is the most inconvenient time to fail (like our drains at 5pm on Christmas eve)

Find out where the blockage is - your land - probably your problem.  Shared drain - probably someone else's problem.  

If you can't shift it mechanically with rods, you'll need to call someone out.  In my experience, the drain cleaner stuff only works for the small bore stuff inside the house.

For context, before shared drains became a utility company problem, we had a blocked drain in the road and we were the first house uphill from the blockage.  Not great - ended up having to get the road dug up.  Because there were more than 10 houses affected, the insurers wouldn't get involved and left it to the local authority to fix as a public health issue.  That was going to take six months, so we did it ourselves and got the money back in the end. 

Our insurance company was spending £500 every 5-7 days on pumping out the drains so that they didn't flood the garden, but the cost of that was less than digging the road up.  Nothing quite like lifting a manhole cover twice a day to check the levels (we had 5 feet to play with), but you do get used to the smell....

In reply to fmck:

> I had something similar happen. I scooped out as much liquid as I could. I then stuck my arm down into the trap and found a layer of weak grout had set on the surface.

If it is a blocked gully then this. You might even get lucky and find a catch pot that can be pulled out. Otherwise get your hand into the trap and get scooping, and don't think about the slimy decomposing corpses of mice you might put your hand on.

After that's done see if you can get a hosepipe in and flush the pipe through. If that doesn't work, see if there's an inspection cover or rodding eye in the vicinity, then I'd get some drain rods rather than get someone in, they'll pay for themselves if you use the successfully once. See the advice upthread about not getting them stuck or unscrewing them in use.

OP Si dH 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Si dH:

Thanks all.

I'm more inclined to pay someone than to have a go at unblocking it physically myself - I suspect the blockage isn't reachable without a rod and I'd probably do a poor job. So I guess I'd better get searching for someone.

The drain is shared with our neighbour and the cover lies across the boundary between our properties (the catchment is the space between our houses). It's older than 2011.

In reply to Si dH:

> The drain is shared with our neighbour and the cover lies across the boundary between our properties (the catchment is the space between our houses). It's older than 2011.

Based on this, there's a strong chance it's your water companies responsibility to unblock it.  They can't charge for this (but may do if there are some specific circumstances that mean it's not their problem).

I probably wouldn't tell them about the repointing work if you do call them out

 montyjohn 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Si dH:

> The drain is shared with our neighbour and the cover lies across the boundary between our properties (the catchment is the space between our houses). It's older than 2011.

If the pipe that's blocked is shared then you don't own it. The repair should be free.

 jonny taylor 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Si dH:

> The drain is shared with our neighbour and the cover lies across the boundary between our properties (the catchment is the space between our houses). It's older than 2011.

Sounds like water company, as others have said. Incidentally I rang our water company in the genuine belief that the issue we were having originated beyond our property. They came out and cleared it, said the blockage was actually on our property, but said they wouldn't charge us this time.

Post edited at 13:43
In reply to jonny taylor:

> > The drain is shared with our neighbour and the cover lies across the boundary between our properties (the catchment is the space between our houses). It's older than 2011.

> Sounds like water company, as others have said. Incidentally I rang our water company in the genuine belief that the issue we were having originated beyond our property. They came out and cleared it, said the blockage was actually on our property, but said they wouldn't charge us this time.

Possibly. Alternatively the cover is where the OPs drain and the neighbours drain combine into the public sewer, and the blockage is upstream of that in the OPs drain, which is his responsibility. Personally I'd get the cover off (assuming it's not a cast iron cover needing a set of keys to lift it) and have a prod about and stick a hosepipe with the nozzle set to a jet up it and see what happens, but thats just me.

 montyjohn 04 Aug 2022
In reply to Ridge:

> and have a prod about and stick a hosepipe with the nozzle set to a jet up it and see what happens, but thats just me.

Being born in Yorkshire, if it can be done for free I'll damn well do it for free.

In reply to Si dH:

Does the drain definitely go to the sewer and not a soakaway?

In reply to Hardonicus:

> Just get some drain rods, assuming you have a suitable access point. You can also get a brush attachment for them which will allow you to sweep your chimney(s) and save yourself a fortune.


Even better still, someone you know is bound to have a set you can borrow.

 Fraser 05 Aug 2022
In reply to Si dH:

I had a very slow draining kitchen sink recently and got one of these "drain snakes" from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Topec-Professional-Remover-Bathtub-Bathroom/dp/B08QRJ11SH/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=drain+snake&qid=1659723047&sr=8-6

It's slow to use but did the job in the end. Alternatively, you could use a drain cleaner attachment for a Karcher (or similar) power washer which I've used for an outside drain:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/K%C3%A4rcher-Pipe-Drain-Cleaning-Kit/dp/B0002YYL36/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=karcher+drain+cleaning+kit&qid=1659723209&sr=8-4


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