Blocked drains

Drains are pipes, which carry waste and surface water from one or more houses. When one drain meets another, it becomes a sewer. These are not the gullies or grids that can be found in the road to take water off the highway.

How do I know if it is my drain that is blocked?

If your drain is blocked you will usually know because your waste will stop going away when you flush the toilet, or gullies outside will overflow. There will also probably be a smell.

Who is responsible?

The owner of the property is responsible for internal plumbing and the section of pipe that serves only their property AND lies within the boundary of their property. Since 1 October 2011 responsibility for the clearance of blockages and repairs to drains outside of your property boundary and to most shared drains is the responsibility of Thames Water.

Blocked road gullies are the responsibility of Herts County Council.

How do I report a blocked drain?  

  • If it is a council property, you should contact the Customer Service Centre on 01438 242242. Outside of office hours in an emergency contact the council’s duty officer on 01438 314963.
  • If it is a burst pipe in the road, contact Affinity Water.
  • If it is a private owned property and the blockage is on the drain serving your property only then you are responsible for getting it cleared.
  • Blocked gullies in the road: contact Hertfordshire County Council on 0300 1234047.
  • In all other cases you should initially contact Thames Water who will be able to advise you whether it is their responsibility. In some cases, they may refer you back to the council if their records show that the problem is with a privately owned drain.

My neighbour’s drain is blocked, what can I do?

The council has powers to serve legal notices on responsible parties requiring them to repair or clear damaged or blocked drains. The council may undertake the work to clear blockages after 48 hours if the person served with the notice does not do so.  


Useful links

Thames Water

Stevenage Borough Council is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Contact details

Environmental Health & Licensing
Stevenage Borough Council
Daneshill House

01438 242908 / 242916