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Who exactly is responsible for drain issues?

A blocked drain is one of the more unpleasant situations that a homeowner has to deal with. It can also be more problematic when it’s your neighbour that’s responsible for the blockage.

Who is responsible for tackling a blocked drain is determined by where in the sewer or drain the blockage is. You will then have to find out if the problem relates to either a private drain or a public sewer. A drain is the pipe that exits your property. When another drain from a different property is joined to your drain then the two drains together are classed as a sewer. Things can also get complicated regarding whose responsibility it is to deal with a blockage, as sewers may be public or private. Which is which is not always easy to establish, and enquiries should be made when this is the case. If you rent your property, then any drain issues are the responsibility of your landlord.

A Public Sewer


A sewerage undertaker will normally be your local water authority, and a public sewer will be their responsibility. Consequently, they are responsible for any maintenance work that’s carried out, as well as for cleaning, and for dealing with any blockages. They will also be expected to have plans of all the sewers that they look after.

A Private Drain

When a blocked drain is all your responsibility is when your property is the only one utilising a pipe. This then means that it is a private drain. If a private drain becomes blocked a private contractor will need to be contacted by you to unblock it.

A Private Sewer

When a pipe is shared between you and your neighbours this constitutes a private sewer. If this becomes blocked it’s expected that the cost of clearing the blockage is split equally between the relevant property owners. In the case of a dispute, local Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) should be contacted.

Help From EHOs

EHOs can serve a notice to have a private sewer cleared within 48 hours. If the sewer remains blocked due to an ongoing dispute, then a private contractor can be called in to sort out the blockage. As a result, all the property owners who share the pipe will be billed for any work that’s carried out.

If you are uncertain about what type of drain or sewer is relevant to you, simply contact an EHO in your area. They can visit your property and identify the problem, and offer you advice as to what your next move should be. They can also tell you whether clearing the blockage is solely down to you, or involves your neighbours also.

How to Unblock A Drain

If a drain isn’t too badly blocked you should be able to unblock it yourself. Once you’ve recognised that a drain is blocked ensure that no more water goes into it. Remember to wear protective clothing, including gloves, before you attempt to unblock the drain.

Ideally, you should use a rod that has a plunger on the end to clear the blockage. It’s quite typical that unblocking a drain could take several minutes to achieve. After the drain has been cleared give it a good flushing and this will wash away any remaining smaller pieces of debris.


For expert assistance with all drainage issues, Jet Rod are the perfect people for you. Our high quality service caters for both domestic and commercial clients, so get in touch with us today to see how we can help you.


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