How Do I Know if My Drain Is Shared?
Drains are one of the most important components of your household’s infrastructure, but only when they’re blocked or broken do we really appreciate their value.
Serious breakages and blockages are, in most cases, extremely rare. But if you do experience drainage problems, it’s crucial to know whether you have a shared drain or are solely responsible for it.
In this article, our experts explain how you can find out if you have a shared drain and, if so, who’s responsible for repairs and maintenance.
How Do I Know if I Have a Shared Drain?
Your home is connected to the sewers by a network of drains and pipes which allow waste to be ejected from your bathroom, toilet and shower before being discharged into the local sewer system.
If your property is connected to a private sewer or other waste disposal system, such as a sewage treatment plant or septic tank, the homeowner will be solely responsible for any private drains. If you’re renting, it’s the landlord’s job to maintain and repair any private drainage solutions that are in place to dispose of household waste, be they private drains connected to public sewers or self-contained off-mains drainage systems.
In most scenarios, a home will be connected to the public sewer systems, rather than to a private system. This is where drains are most commonly shared. The best way to find out if your property is connected to the public sewer system is through a drain survey. Professionals can look at the system in place, contact the local council and water suppliers, and inspect sewer maps to establish which drains are shared and which drains are your responsibility.
In some cases, a shared drain can also exist in a private capacity. This happens when the shared drain hasn’t been taken over by the local council or water authority, often because it’s on private, shared property. This can happen with terraced houses or blocks of flats. Again, a drain survey can help you to establish whether you’re connected to private shared drains or public shared drains.
Why Might You Have a Shared Drain?
Shared drains exist for a number of reasons and are particularly common in built-up urban areas where there’s lots of housing connected to local sewer systems. Private drains often connect to public shared drains, creating a dense network of pipes and drains in a small area.
For example, shared drains often run along the entire length of a street. Each house on the street has its own pipes and drains, which directly connect the property to the central shared drain. Waste is discharged from your home and makes its way to the shared drain. From here, it’s eventually ejected into public sewers, before making its way to a public sewage treatment plant to be broken down.
Shared drains essentially exist to allow for a higher drainage capacity and to allow for economical shared sewer facilities, which is particularly important in ever-expanding towns and cities.
Who’s Responsible for a Shared Drain?
Public shared drains, such as a pipe connecting a row of houses on the street, are often the responsibility of the local water authority. They commonly own these shared drains, so if a problem arises in the shared pipes, such as blockages or breakages, it’s the water authority’s job to fix it.
In scenarios where there is a privately owned shared drain, such as in a block of apartments, everyone in the block connected to the private drain is equally responsible for it should things go wrong.
If the blockage is in the public part of a shared drain, the water authorities will come in and remove it. They’ll also maintain and repair any drains that fall into their area of responsibility.
However, if a blockage occurs in a private drain before the drain has connected to the public one, the responsibility falls on the homeowner. Things get much more complicated if it’s a shared, private drain.
In theory, all of the homeowners who make use of the shared drain are equally responsible. If there’s a blockage, everyone should pitch in and pay for repairs. In reality, this can cause arguments and issues with neighbours, particularly if it’s unclear if the blockage occurred in the shared area of the private drain or in a drain that had yet to connect with the shared drain.
If an agreement can’t be arranged between neighbours, the council can enforce notice and charge everyone equally for the repair and maintenance. If you’re part of a shared private drain network, it’s important to know where you stand and what you’re responsible for should problems arise.
The Importance of Drain Surveys
Because of the complicated and dense network of pipes and drains, both public and private, which connect households to sewer systems, it’s important to know which parts of a drain are your responsibility, which are the shared responsibility of other homeowners, and which are under the jurisdiction of the local water authority.
A drain survey can help to map out your local drainage area. If there’s a blockage, you’ll be able to immediately identify who has responsibility for clearing it once you’ve located exactly where in the network the blockage is.
Drain surveys can be carried out before you purchase a new home, giving you a clear picture of what you’re responsible for. Drain surveys can also help to solve disputes with neighbours, should any blockages arise in the future.
Need More Help? Contact OMDI for More Information on Shared Drains
Our expert team at OMDI has years’ experience designing, installing and maintaining drainage solutions, alongside many more off-mains drainage and treatment services.
Our friendly and professional staff are happy to help if you’re looking to enquire more about a drain survey of your property to establish whether you have any shared drains, amongst other issues. Contact OMDI today for more information on shared drains and for a free quote on any work required.