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. Private drains/sewers are the responsibility of the owner-occupier and any other properties connected to it. The Council can arrange for clearance of a blocked drain.
Who is responsible?
The law relating to drainage is very complex. Basically, it is the responsibility of an owner-occupier to maintain and clear their own drain up to a point where it joins the public sewer. In the case of a private sewer, the responsibility is shared jointly by all the owners who derive benefit from it.
The public sewer is the responsibility of Thames Water.
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 Three Valleys Water on 0800 376 5325.
- 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.
- If you know that the drainage is shared with other properties but is not a public sewer, you should contact the Environmental Health section on 01438 242908.
- In all other cases you should initially contact Thames Water on 08459 200 800 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 or sewer.
What do I do if the drain/sewer is damaged or has collapsed?
Initially, you should contact the numbers given above, in section ‘How do I report a blocked drain’.
If a private sewer is defective and the house owners who properties drain into it cannot agree to have it repaired, the Environmental Health section can take enforcement action to ensure that it is done.