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Big sewage problem

10 replies 1.2K views
faerielightfaerielight Forumite
1.8K posts
I've been Money Tipped!
I’ve had blocked drains and sewage issues ever since I bought my flat. Turns out there is a hump 3 1/2 mat underneath my flat which means it needs to travel uphill but obviously can’t. . Sewage co need to dig it up.. I am so stressed as to how horrific it is going to be. I’m ill and I have elderly cats, we don’t want this! Anyone here had to go through this? I hopefully can claim on my insurance, but it’s the noise, dust, invasion and worry about sanitation that I really can’t cope with. I’ve had to get the pipes flushed out weekly and it is so expensive.
Many thanks to all who contribute on MSE :)

Replies

  • edited 18 May 2019 at 8:12AM
    DoozergirlDoozergirl Forumite
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    edited 18 May 2019 at 8:12AM
    Sewage company? You mean the local water company or a private firm?

    Is it purely your pipe or shared?
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
  • -taff-taff Forumite
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    If yu've had to have the pipes flushed weekly, then doing the job will mean you won't have to again...So either don't have it and continue spending money, or put up with a week or so of work.
  • DigForVictoryDigForVictory Forumite
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    Tenth Anniversary 10,000 Posts Photogenic I've been Money Tipped!
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    First of all, work with the sewage company as to how big the problem is, how long they need and how much the bill will be. A range is worrying but since you don't want to pay it, this is just information.

    Next the insurance - this is covered? And is not your fault as you bought the place nor knowing they could chase the debt from someone else?

    Once you know the size of the job & the likely bill, you can get the insurance to suggest how much they might pay for your inconvenience. This is admittedly the bit where the "I wish this could happen" kicks in & reality kicks back but this is more or less an ideal future scenario.

    Once you have that, agree dates, book a holiday and let the company get on with it. Followed by another company to come in & do a deep clean while you're not there. Return and settle back. Look to being away, cats in care & you likewise properly looked after while it's done.
    Very best of luck.
  • faerielightfaerielight Forumite
    1.8K posts
    I've been Money Tipped!
    I mean a private company, I presume it’s my responsibility, not the water company . I’m waiting for a quote from the drain company. I don’t know if the policy covers drains, I paid my neighbor my share directly to her last year,but didn’t get a copy, so I will call the insurance co on mon.. it will be good once it is done, just wary of the process.
    Many thanks to all who contribute on MSE :)
  • Section106Section106 Forumite
    88 posts
    I mean a private company, I presume it’s my responsibility, not the water company . I’m waiting for a quote from the drain company. I don’t know if the policy covers drains, I paid my neighbor my share directly to her last year,but didn’t get a copy, so I will call the insurance co on mon.. it will be good once it is done, just wary of the process.
    I'm concerned there is a very real danger you might be getting ripped off here. Do you have someone you could rely on to help you get better advice about the problem and what needs to be done to fix it?

    Firstly, you say there is a "hump 3 1/2 mat underneath my flat". Do you mean 3.5 metres? And do you mean 3.5 metres deep (unlikely, but possible), or 3.5 metres measured in distance from the outside?

    What you describe - a pipe which runs 'uphill' - is known as a "negative fall" or "negative gradient". It is unlikely the pipe was originally laid like this, although it might have been if the builders were particularly bad.

    Usually a slight 'negative fall' is not a major problem. In normal use a domestic drain shouldn't block on a regular basis just because there is a slight 'negative fall'. That suggests to me that either you are putting things into the drains which shouldn't be going into them (like fat, or flushing inappropriate items down the toilet), or else the negative fall is quite bad.

    If the latter, then you really need advice from a professional (not a drain company) as to what is causing it.

    The next thing is that you shouldn't presume responsibility for the pipe. You should be advised by a professional whether or not you are responsible. It could be the responsibility of the local water company (water board) or the owner of the building (freeholder).

    Private drain companies have a bad habit of not telling potential victims that the defective pipe is someone else's responsibility. They manage to do this because people don't know how drainage works, and the "yuk" factor makes them want to get the problem fixed with the minimum of personal involvement. That makes it a fertile source of income for scammers and the dishonest.

    You can see the risk of that in your comment "it will be good once it is done" - the fear of the problem is making you willing to pay a potentially large amount of money and suffer inconvenience without really knowing what the problem is, and whether anything actually needs doing.

    It is also a bit worrying that you paid money to your neighbour for an insurance policy, but don't know what the policy covers and don't have a copy. The neighbour is probably entirely trustworthy, but it is also possible that they are pocketing your money and crossing their fingers than nothing goes wrong with the flats.

    The fact you are paying money to her suggests there might be a joint responsibility for things like insurance - which may mean there is joint responsibility when it comes to repairs to things like the drainage. Does your building have a management company or management committee?

    If you have nobody else who can help you, it might be worth contacting the local council's trading standards department and ask them for advice. They will be used to dealing with complaints from 'private drain companies' and may be able to guide you to someone who can help before you have a problem.

    Also, if the drain company is one of the large national chain companies, don't assume what they are saying must be right just because they are a large national company.

    I hope I haven't alarmed or upset you with anything I've said above. That wasn't my intention. I'm hoping the comments will get you to ask questions and seek help which may prevent you from the cost and inconvenience of having possibly unnecessary work done. Good luck. :)
  • aliby21aliby21 Forumite
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    I've got ongoing drain issues, and from my experience I had three 'drain companies' to look and then the local water company. The local water company said if there was a problem to always call them - they came and sorted the bit that was their responsibility (if the drain is shared it will be the local water company's responsibility) but also looked and gave me advice on what needed doing to my bit, which was very different to the 'drain companies' and a lot less scary. They also said to try my house insurance first, and my house insurance are going to cover it. If you find your local water company or house insurance won't cover it, I'd suggest trying building or groundwork firms rather than the 'drain companies' - at least get some quotes from them.
  • southcoastrgisouthcoastrgi Forumite
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    Read #6, from your description it sounds like you are on the ground floor which means you likely have someone above you & if that's the case then the likelihood is that flat uses the same drain, if so it is highly likely it's a shared drain which means it's the water boards responsibility, you need someone to advise you whether this is the case as you shouldn't be paying for anything
    I'm only here while I wait for Corrie to start.

    You get no BS from me & if I think you are wrong I WILL tell you.
  • Section106Section106 Forumite
    88 posts
    Read #6, from your description it sounds like you are on the ground floor which means you likely have someone above you & if that's the case then the likelihood is that flat uses the same drain, if so it is highly likely it's a shared drain which means it's the water boards responsibility, you need someone to advise you whether this is the case as you shouldn't be paying for anything
    As far as I know, that rule only applies to houses with their own separate drainage systems that become shared once outside the building.

    Flats with shared pipework operate under different rules, the water company doesn't become responsible until the lateral reaches the boundary of the public highway (or connects to a public sewer).

    It is one of the cases where "shared drain" doesn't automatically mean the water company is responsible.

    But there is no harm in the OP asking the water company for help/advice.
  • LandyAndyLandyAndy Forumite
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    Sounds like a 'big job' to me.
  • faerielightfaerielight Forumite
    1.8K posts
    I've been Money Tipped!
    Thanks for the advice.. I did get the insurance policy off my neighbour, they have said that I have to provide a cause of the problem, but the drain company didn’t know what the cause is. Yes I am on the ground floor, I’ve rung the water company and they are going to do a camera and tell me if it is their or my responsibility. I’ve had a quote back from the drain co, it is £3800. Yes I did mean metres, it’s actually 4 meters long, not deep, so the whole of my spare room. Which is an extension that used to be the garage needs to be dug up. I don’t put any wipes down there, I have a medical waste collection service, I don’t use quilted loo roll either. I do use the loo a lot though as I have a bowel condition, hence why this is so stressful!
    I spoke to my next door neighbour and she has the same issues with sewage coming up into her shower, it makes me wonder if there is a problem on the street, or if there is some subsidence, as these are Victorian properties. The owners didn’t disclose sewage issues, it smelt drains in the bathroom but they told me the toilet needed glueing back down. Do I have any grounds for contacting the conveyances or is it my fault that I didn’t get a drain survey done? Thanks for the advice!
    Aliby, good luck getting your problem sorted.
    Many thanks to all who contribute on MSE :)
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