FAQs and Information

Here you can find answers to frequently asked questions about our services.

Try our question bank to get an answer to your query. If you can't find what you are looking for please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Blocked sinks and toilets are really unpleasant. They are usually caused by blocked sewers in or near your home.

You'll need to check who's responsible for what to understand who'll need to be contacted.

There are two types of sewers - private and public.

Private drains and sewers belong to you, the customer. We offer a fixed fee service whereby we will spend up to four hours investigating and clearing a blockage. If the blockage then re-occurs within 14 days we will clear it again for free, unless there is evidence of misuse. Alternatively, you can call a plumber or an independent drain clearing company to help you with this.

Public sewers belong to us, please contact us to let us know if you believe you have a problem with the public sewer serving your property.

There are also public highway drains and gullies, you'll need to contact your local authority to help with this.

Please see our clean drains are good for business page for information on how you can protect your business.

If your business property has been flooded internally, you'll need to contact your insurance company as soon as possible (failure to notify insurers will jeopardise any future claims). Depending on your level of insurance, your insurance company will arrange clean up, disinfectant and replacement of any damaged property.

If you've experienced sewage flooding on your property, and you think it's because one of our sewer pipes is blocked contact us to let us know.

We're sorry if you have been unfortunate enough to suffer sewage flooding due to a problem on our sewer, you may be entitled to a payment under our guaranteed service standards scheme.

A smell of sewage could be an early indication of a problem in the sewers or drains. To report sewage smell, outside your property or in a public place, please contact us.

If the smell is inside your property, particularly if it is coming from your downstairs sink, it is likely to be your private drainage and may indicate a blockage. We offer a fixed fee service whereby we will spend up to four hours investigating and clearing a blockage. If the blockage then re-occurs within 14 days we will clear it again for free, unless there is evidence of misuse.

Responsibilities for sewers and drains changed in October 2011

In October 2011 the transfer took place and all sewers, and sewer apparatus, outside of your property boundaries and any sewers shared with another property transferred to the ownership to your water company. If the manhole is inside you property boundary and is not shared with another property the manhole will be your responsibility.

To report a problem with a manhole on our public sewer please contact us.

For more information see our responsibilities for sewer pipes page.

A sewerage manhole, or inspection chamber, is there to allow maintenance on the underground public sewer or drain. A manhole is usually 2ft in wide, can be round or triangular, and is made of heavy duty metal.

A lateral drain will run across properties that share a sewer. It is the section of pipe that crosses the boundary of the property it's serving, and runs across property boundaries that are on a shared sewer.

For more information see your responsibility for sewer pipes page.

A drain is the pipe that takes foul or surface water away from a property. The drain that runs from the connection to your property up to the point it crosses the property boundary is called the sewerage pipe. A drain becomes a sewer when more than one property uses the same section of pipe.

For more information and to see a diagram of the property and pipe boundaries, visit your responsibility for sewer pipes page.

If you see a cover that's noisy, broken and/or could be dangerous, please contact us to let us know so we can get it fixed. The cover could be for electrical, gas, TV, internet or council supplies, so we'll need as much information as you can to make sure it's fixed as quickly as possible. If you can, let us know the size, where it is, and if there are any markings on it, that will help us identify it.

A road gully is a small chamber covered by a metal grating found in the gutter of a roadway. They are used to collect surface water from the road and are the responsibility of your local councils Highways Authority.

You can find the contact number for your local council here.

To connect a single property (for your home or business), you will need to complete an application form and send it to us before you can start working on it. All of the details of how to apply are on the Developers section.

A sewage pumping station is used to move sewage from one place to another (either to a sewage works or a receiving gravity sewer) when gravity can't be relied on. They can be found in rural areas where they may convey the sewage from a village to another location, and also in urban areas where low lying land may prevent the flow via gravity. Pumping stations are sometimes built to replace smaller sewage works as they cost less to operate and maintain, and require a smaller footprint.

We're currently working to make sure we know where all of the pumping stations are, as some were built quite a while ago, and making sure the ownership is correct for them. So if you have one on your property or near by, let us know so we can check it out.

A cesspit, also know as cesspool, is a tank which takes the sewage draining from a property. The tank is used only to store the sewage until it is collected. It should be watertight and must be emptied frequently. They're normally located within the property boundary.

Cesspit/Cesspools usually serve one property and are owned and maintained by the owner of the property. If the cesspit serves more than one property then it will usually be jointly maintained by the owners of the properties which it serves. You can find cesspit maintenance and emptying services in your local telephone directory.

Storage tanks are used to store sewage in the event of a storm. Some return the sewage to the sewer by gravity after the storm has passed, others (similar to pumping stations) will pump the stored sewage back in the sewer.

A septic tank is a small sewage treatment system used for properties where there's no connection to main sewer pipes available. Sewage drains into the septic tank from one or more properties and is treated by bacteria in the tank. Septic tanks usually have an outlet to an effluent drain or soak-away.

Septic tanks usually serve one property and are owned and are maintained by the owner of the property. If the septic tank serves more than one property then it will usually be jointly maintained by the owners of the properties which it serves. If you need maintenance to be done on your septic tank you can find companies in your local telephony directory.

The Environment Agency provide a free Flood Warning Information Service where you can check if you are currently at risk from river, coastal or groundwater flooding.

Please use our Report a Problem form to let us know so that we can investigate and get the problem fixed for you.

Sewer flooding happens for a number of reasons and we can’t always prevent it. It's most likely to occur during storms, when large volumes of rainwater enter the sewers. Sewer flooding can also occur when our pipes become blocked. Contact us immediately to report incidents of sewer flooding or if your property has suffered sewer flooding.

Is the flooding our responsibility?

It’s important that we know whether the flooding is from a sewer (our responsibility) or another source so we can give you the very best possible help and advice.

Public sewer flooding

It is likely to be our responsibility if:

  • Your property and others are experiencing sewer flooding.
  • There’s foul debris, like toilet paper or sanitary products, in the water. See our top tips to help to prevent a blockage.
  • The flooding is coming from a public sewer.  

If you have suffered flooding from a public sewer you may be entitled to a payment under our Guaranteed Service Standards scheme .

Private sewer flooding

It's likely to be your responsibility if:

  • Your property is the only one experiencing sewer flooding.
  • You don't share drainage with any other property.
  • There's no other flooding locally.
  • The flooding is coming from your private drain or sewer.

Public highway flooding

If the problem arises from a highway drain or gully and there is no foul debris in the flooding, it is likely to be the responsibility of the Local Authority. In these cases you should contact your Local Authority.

River flooding

River flooding occurs from a main river and there is no foul debris in the flood water, then you should contact the Environment Agency. Visit the Environment Agency's website for useful information about river flooding and general information about flood warnings.

Surface water flooding

Lead Local Flood Authorities were established in 2010 and are responsible for managing flood risk from surface water. ground water and smaller local watercourses (not main rivers). To report surface water flooding, ground water flooding or flooding from local watercourse you should contact your Lead Local Flood Authority (Unitary Authorities and County Councils), or your Local Authority (e.g District Councils). 

Land drainage

Fields can get waterlogged by heavy rain or through inadequate drainage. The responsibility normally lies with the landowner and you should contact the landowner to establish who is responsible.

Insurance Claims

If your home or property is flooded internally, you should contact your household insurers as soon as possible to arrange clean up, disinfectant and replacement of any damaged property. After sewer flooding we will do our best to find out why it happened and see if there is anything that can, within reason, be done to stop it happening again and we'll let you know the outcome of any investigations.

There is some really helpful information on the Environment Agency website about how to plan and deal with sewer flooding.

Severe weather and heavy rain can cause flooding, especially in the low-lying areas. It's very unpleasant and difficult to deal with - so we have produced some advice on what you can do.

What could happen during flooding?

  • In your home, drains could stop flowing and sewage could back up into your sinks, toilets, baths etc.
  • Outside you may see sewer flooding coming through public drains, sewers, and possibly even from man holes.

What do you need to do if you’re in a flood risk area?

  • Gather essentials so that you can quickly evacuate, for example - torches, food, first aid kits and any medication needed.
  • If you are able to prepare your property, move valuables to higher shelves or up stairs and turn off your water, gas and electricity main supplies where it is safe to do so.
  • Stay out of the floodwater; it can be very hazardous to health. Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands if you do come in to contact with it. Also, running water can be deceptively fast and strong, so it’s best to avoid walking or driving through any flood water.
  • Evacuate when told, and follow advice from the emergency services.

Where can you get the latest updates for your area?

Where can you go for help?

What you should do after flooding?

  • Contact your insurance company to let them know.
  • Do not turn on any electrical or gas supplies without making sure they have dried out first.
  • Be careful of any broken glass or other debris that may have been caused by the flooding
  • You may need to boil your water before using it.

Trade effluent is anything which is not domestic sewage (toilet, bath or hand washing waste) or uncontaminated surface water and roof drainage (rainwater). Wastewater discharges from hotels, pubs, restaurants, takeaways and caravan parks are not classed as trade effluent.

Fore more information please see our Trade Effluent page.

Take prompt action to prevent or minimize any discharge to your site drains and the sewerage network.

Ensure that you have an incident procedure in place, and that all staff are familiar with it.

Site drainage plans and materials Safety Data sheets should be readily available.

Any material spilled should be prevented from entering drains if at all possible, but if any of it does get into the site drainage system, please contact us immediately with details of the substances involved, location of the spillage and likely quantities discharged.

The rain that falls on your roofs, yards and other parts of your property drains away to the public sewers. This is called surface water. We include the cost of removing this surface water in the sewerage charges on your bill. For some customers, surface water or groundwater may not drain into the public sewer. If you are in this category you may be able to claim for a reduction in your sewerage charges.

Please contact us if you believe that your property does not benefit from these services.