What to do about a blocked drain or sewer?
The pipe that exits your house is called a drain. If this drain then joins another property, the pipe becomes a sewer from that joint onwards.
Responsibilities for unblocking or repairing problem sections of foul sewerage depend upon whether the sewer is private or public.
Public sewers are those that have been adopted by the sewerage undertaker, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW). If you have a problem that relates to a public sewer you should contact DCWW on 0800 085 3968 and they should deal with it.
If you are a Housing Association tenant, and you have drainage problems then you should contact your landlord.
Sewers built before 1st October 1937 are known as ‘Section 24 sewers’ and are the exception to the rule. They fit the general description of private sewers but they are actually public and therefore managed by DCWW.
A private sewer is a sewer that has not been adopted by the sewerage undertaker. It is therefore the responsibility of the persons who share the sewer up to the point of defect or blockage to clear the blockage or repair the damage. The fact that a sewer is located under a public road does NOT mean that it is a public sewer. Conversely, some public sewers can be found within the grounds of a private dwelling.
Drains from two properties may join together and form a private sewer, and then run some distance before connecting with the public sewer. If a defect or blockage occurs in the private sewer system, the owners of the two properties would be responsible for rectifying the problem. Note that the boundary of the property does not indicate the end of your responsibility.
The role of the local authority
The Public Health Team staff can determine the extent of the problem, the number of properties involved and the action required to resolve the problem. This usually results in either informal or formal action being taken.
Public Health Team staff will endeavour to inform users of the appropriate action to take. Such as use rods to clear pipes personally or with the help of a neighbour contact a drainage contractor.
A Notice under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 would require you together with the other affected persons to remove obstructions from the private sewer within 48 hours. The Notice or covering letter will indicate all other parties involved. If the Notice is not complied with, the work will be completed by the Council in default and the cost for the work plus any administrative fees will be charged.
A notice under section 59 of the Building Act 1984 would require you together with the affected persons to repair damaged parts of a private sewer. The Notice or covering letter will indicate all other parties involved. If the Notice is not complied with, the work will be completed by the Council and the cost for the works plus any administrative fees will be charged.
Last Modified: 11/10/2021
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