Drains and sewers

Blocked drain or sewer, what to do?

Thames Water is responsible for private sewers. In general, this means Thames Water is now responsible for maintaining, repairing and clearing blockages to sewers and drains.

Contact Thames Water on 0800 980 8800, who will come out clear the blockage, if it is their responsibility, free of charge. If the blockage is not the responsibility of Thames Water, they will advise at the time.

Thames Water is not responsible for:

  • waste pipes above ground;
  • drains between the property and the boundary of the land, that serve only one property
  • sewers or drains that serve multiple dwellings (eg flats);

If there is a blocked gully in the road, please report it to Surrey County Council online.

Tenants

Contact Thames Water on 0800 980 8800 and inform your landlord as soon as possible. Your landlord may be responsible for clearing the blockage. If your landlord, is responsible for clearing the blockage, and fails to do so then you can ask Spelthorne Council's Environmental Health Department to intervene.

Owner occupiers

Contact Thames Water on 0800 980 8800. If the blockage is on a section of pipe work, that is not the responsibility of Thames Water, then the owner of the property must clear the drain. Thames Water may be able to unblock it, but there is normally a charge. Alternatively, you can arrange a private contractor to carry out the work. We would advise you to get a quote beforehand. If you instruct a private contractor to undertake any work, you will not be able to claim any costs from Thames Water.

Blockage inside a property

This is a private matter for which the occupier/owner are responsible. If the blockage is in pipe work shared between two or more flats in a property, then these will usually be joint responsibility. In a private block of flats it is normally the managing company's responsibility to maintain the drains and sewers within their ground.

If there is a dispute about responsibility of unblocking or repairing private drains or sewers, the Council can serve a legal notice on the owners or occupiers of the affected properties requiring them to unblock or repair the drain or sewer. If the notice is not complied with, the Council can arrange for a private contractor to carry out the work. The Council will then recover the total cost of the works.

Neighbour's property

 If you suspect the sewer or drain in your neighbour's property is blocked, you may want to let them know. Advise them to contact Thames Water on 0800 980 8800. If your neighbour is responsible and they are not taking any action to remove the blockage, then you can ask Environmental Health to intervene.

The Council will always treat complainants' details confidentially. A member of Council staff will investigate and determine if the responsibility rests with the owner or Thames Water.

If necessary, the Council will serve a legal notice on the property owner or occupier requiring them to unblock the drain or sewer. If the notice is not complied with, the Council can arrange with a private contractor to carry out the work, in which case costs of the work plus an administration charge will be recoverable from the property owner or occupier.

Structural defects

Blockages can be caused by defects in underground pipes underground.

If the defect is in a private sewer serving more than one property, then the defect should be reported to Thames Water on 0800 980 8800.

Maintenance

Drains and sewers are generally designed to be self-cleaning, but like all other parts of a building, they should be maintained correctly:-

Do

  • examine the system periodically to find out if any repairs are needed, particularly to manholes
  • check for water overflowing from the gully or manhole covers
  • clear any blockages or partial blockages

Do not

  • damage the drains and do not obstruct the manhole access when carrying out major building work, such as building an extension,
  • put nappies and other items down the toilet
  • pour cooking fat or oil into the sink or drains, it will solidify and cause blockages