Selling a house with a drainage problem


People have been trying to efficiently get rid of water from their households since 800BC when Romans started building open drains to get rid of stormwater, later mixed with debris and faeces.

Since then the drainage system was constantly evolving. Nearly 3000 years later we can have clean water connected and dirty water is taken away from our houses and we don’t even think about it. Until we have a clog or a leak. A drainage problem can be a real and smelly headache but let us help you with it.

plumbing pipes

What can cause a blocked drain?

In the kitchen:

When you notice that the sink is slow draining that is a sign that there is a blockage somewhere in your pipes. The most common cause of kitchen blockage is grease; when poured into the plug holes over time will act as a plug. The second common reason you may not think of is – ground coffee. Best to just put them in compost or a bin. That followed by food chunks can cause some drainage problems.

In the bathroom:

When your shower is suddenly turning into a bath it’s a sign of blocked drains. Most likely caused by an excess of hair and soap scum.

If your toilet is blocked usually a good plunger will shift any blockages. Remember about 3P rule. The only three things that can safely go down the toilet is pee, poo and paper.


Outside draining pipes can clog easily especially if they’re connected to the gutters that are not routinely cleaned. Leaves, twigs, moss and feathers and easily block the pipe. That problem is quite easy to avoid as properly maintained can remain blockage free for a long time.

plumber cartoon
sink hole

How to spot a blockage?

It’s a relatively simple task to spot a blockage in your household. The 3 things you need to look out for are bad smells, slow draining water and a gurgling sound of trapped air in the pipe.


DIY solutions

If the blockage is not severe you’ll be able to get rid of it yourself. Don’t get fooled by the vinegar and bicarb method. It looks spectacular when it reacts but vinegar (acid) and bicarb (base) neutralise each other and all you’re left with is salty water and CO2. Try mixing bicarb and salt instead, pour it down the drain and leave overnight. Then pour some boiling water down wait a few minutes and pour more hot water. That cycle may be needed to be repeated a few times.

In the bathroom using a plug draining tool – cheap, plastic tape with little hooks – that should catch most of the hair. If not a special hair dissolving solution from the supermarket should do

water tap
sink water black and white
hand washing

Who is responsible for the lateral drain?

Lateral drains are the pipes that take the waste away from your property directly to the public sewer.

The property owner is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the lateral drains that are located within the perimeter of the property. Meaning if the affected drain is under the ground that belongs to you it is your job to fix it.

If the drainage problem e.g broken pipe is under the pavement outside the fence of your property, the responsibility belongs to the local authority /water company.

Lateral drainage problems

Depending on when the property was built and how well was it maintained you may encounter different drainage issues.

Tree root system

One of the common drainage problems is the tree roots invasion. Trees as we know have enormous strength and power when searching for nutrients, which drains are full of. If they can break a road or pavement, a pipe is not a problem, especially at the weakest connecting point.

Contact a drainage professional, they will assess the lateral drain problems and repair the blocked drain by removing roots and patching any damage – usually done by a high-pressure water jet.

Cracked/collapsed /open jointed

If there is a bad smell in your garden or the grass is greener in one place it can be one of the signs of a leak. If the waste water is leaking for a long period it can cause structural damage and in the worst-case scenario can cause a sinkhole. If you know what your pipes are made out of it can help to figure out what’s wrong as certain types of material can cause a certain cause certain types of problems to occur.

Pitch fibre pipes

Popular in the UK between 1950-1970, so if your house was built in that time there is a chance that your drainage system is made out of pitch fibre. The material is not in use anymore due to its breakability. There were many cases that the pipes collapsed under the weight of the ground as they were made out of a cellulose-based compound.

Salt-glazed clay pipes

Typically used in Victorian houses. The material itself is very sturdy but over time it can deteriorate and lead to cracks. Salt-glazed clay pipes are still available, due to the way they are manufactured, they’re expensive. Fortunately, a professional plumber or drain specialist will know how to fix the problem. Commonly a patch of lining is used to repair the pipe. And nowadays the repair doesn’t always require digging up the ground.


waste pipe rust

Do you have a septic tank?

If you live in a rural area it is likely that your draining water goes to the septic tank. Remember that it is not recommended for the rainwater to go into a septic tank as it changes the environment for bacteria growth. That bacteria is necessary to break down the solids at the bottom of the tank and helps to prevent clogging. We have covered  the septic tank issues here

How to prevent future issues?

Prevention is better than cure, so it’s important to look after your drainage system at your property to avoid potentially costly repair. The best solution is not to put things that do not belong in the drainage system. Whether it’s shower or bath, loo or kitchen sink. It’s also worth pouring hot water down the sink every now and again to dissolve and push down any fat residue.

To prevent outside drainage issues – keep your gutter clean and well maintained.

If you thinking about buying a property it is worth ordering a drainage survey. It’s done by a small CCTV camera inserted into the system and it scans the pipes for potential problems and checks if there’s a good flow. A professional inspection will give you peace of mind and help to make a decision if the property is right for you.

What about selling?

If you decided to sell your property and a buyers’ survey shows any signs of drainage problem they most likely try to negotiate the price as drainage repair can be costly. If the damage is severe and you need to move fast contact us! Speed Property Buyers specialise in buying problematic properties. We buy any house after all. Our friendly team will explain everything and guide you through the process. We will provide you with a cash offer within 24 hours!

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