Domestic & Household
Accidental Damage to Drains
We all know that the drains are around somewhere, because when we flush the toilet, everything disappears. We might even know how deep the drains are, because 20 years ago we looked down the manhole on the drive!
Nevertheless, there is a myriad of reasons why drains are damaged accidentally.
Some typical reasons are:
• Fencing posts driven through the pipe
• Directional boring by utility companies ploughing through the pipe
• Building of extensions and the like over a drain run
• Vehicles constantly parked over a shallow drain run
• Householders (or contractors) allowing concrete washings to go down the drain
• Over enthusiastic rodding of a blocked drain
• Planting of trees and shrubs over a drain run
In reality, minor damage to drainage pipework may very well not cause blockages, or lead to any other problems.
Many defects found by CCTV inspections will have been in place for years, and will not need “emergency repairs”!
If you suspect that damage has occurred, get in touch with a reputable drainage inspection company such as ourselves and ask them to put a camera though the pipes.
Fact of life: drains sometimes block up. Probably the first you will know about it is when sewage seeps out from under a manhole lid, or a gully backs up and water runs away overground. Panic not! If you are that way inclined, beg, borrow or hire some drain rods and have a go yourself.If you are not that way inclined, find that “reputable drainage company”, (see Accidental Damage to Your Drains), and ask them to attend to the problem. They will either use rods, or more likely a high pressure water jetting machine. If what you have is a simple blockage, the jetter will make short work of the blockage, and the engineer should be able to tell you what caused the blockage.
Other than structural damage to the pipes, blockages usually occur when something gets into the pipes which should not be there. Over the years we have found ALL sorts of things down there: – toy cars, combs, cutlery, clothing, a wallet, (complete with credit cards and £200 of soggy cash), and even a shoe! One of our favourites are the deodorisers which clip over the toilet rim. They make an excellent hook for catching solids!
If a blockage occurs repeatedly, chances are there is a problem down there, and an inspection by CCTV will be required. (See Detailed Site Surveys). This inspection should identify the reason for the blockages, and either the engineer or his office will be able to give you a fixed price quote, (not an estimate), to carry out the repairs.
The repairs will fall into either of these categories: –
• Excavation and replacement of the pipes.
• Lining of the existing pipes.
• A patch liner over a specific defect.
• Or at worst, rerouting of the drains.
Whatever is suggested, we recommend that you contact your insurance company, and ask them, AM I COVERED FOR THIS PROBLEM? The chances are you will be, but that you will be asked to supply at least a couple of quotes. Please ring us for a quote.
Lining and Replacement of Drains
So, you have found that you have got a drain problem, and with all the wishing in the world it’s not going to go away! The report has gone to the insurance company, and they have said go ahead and get the repairs done. What happens next?
Well, if we are going to carry out the repairs, whatever recommendations we made will be the ones which cause you as little disturbance as possible. Before the work starts, we will talk through all the implications of what is going to happen, when it’s going to happen, and how you can help us make the job as painless as possible, (i.e.: don’t flush your loo when we have just removed the drain! It has been known!).
If it is possible to fix the problem by lining a drain, that’s what we will do. Lining is quick, it saves digging up your drive or garden, and when the job’s done there are no trench lines to catch your eye every time you look at the surface. A small access excavation may have to be made, but that is peanuts compared to a big deep trench running across you property!
Unfortunately, not all repairs can be made by lining. Grit your teeth, and watch the trenches go in! But rest assured, we don’t dig any more than we need to, and once the new pipework is laid, the excavations are backfilled and the surface reinstated to the highest standards. We can’t say you would never know we’ve been there, but we will do our best to make it look that way!
We will also give you a 10-year, transferable guarantee of materials and workmanship. That’s what you get with a brand new house! We also won’t leave you overnight without connecting up the new drains, or putting a temporary system in place.
Subsidence Damage to Drains
If the subsoil in which the foundations of the building are set in contracts, it could allow the footings to very slightly move. This can be brought about by the drying out of the ground due to drought, or by nearby trees drawing moisture out of the soil.
The first you will know about this is cracking along the mortar joints of the brickwork in a local area. If this occurs, then the same underground movement could very well put enough stress on the drainage pipework to allow it to crack, or to displace one or more joints. Tree root growth around the pipes could also literally push the pipes aside.
Once a pipe is cracked, or the jointing compound at a displaced joint is damaged, water will gradually escape and wash away the finings surrounding the pipe. This in turn compounds the problem, and allows even more movement. In the meantime, any nearby tree root growth will gravitate into this wet area, and eventually grow through the crack or joint, ultimately blocking the drain at this point.
This of course puts pressure on the pipe joints upstream of the blockage, and any slight defect will allow seepage into the ground, thus starting the same problem in another area…
Our advice is, if you notice new cracking of the brickwork joints, tell your insurance company, and ask them to send a Buildings Surveyor to check it out.
Detailed Surveys and Investigations
After arranging a convenient time to visit you property, we will survey the drainage by passing a CCTV camera through the pipework. This gives us a true picture of the condition of the pipes, and identifies any defects within. It also allows us to trace the route of the pipes from the surface, and subsequently plot this route onto a drawing.
If the drain contains any grease or silt, (which is normal), we may have to clean the pipework by high pressure water jetting, so that there is no build up of debris in front of the camera lens.
The survey is recorded onto DVD, and a typed engineer’s report is compiled. This report also includes any repair recommendations (with costings) which may be necessary. Your insurance company will be familiar with this type of format, and all major insurers accept our reports.
For an average semi, where manhole access is available, this operation should take less than 2 hours.
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