Keep it clear – dealing with blocked drains

Each year we spend close to £244k on unblocking drains. Whilst most cases are out of our customers’ control, improper disposal of waste products in particular wipes and nappies, as well as fats, oil and grease (FOG) are the most common causes of the drainage problems we deal with here. Blockages in pipes and drains can cause major disruptions and escalating costs for homes, and more often than not it turns out that these items are the culprit.

As well as being a pain in the backside for us, they clog up sinks, drains and sewers to the point that they increase the risk of flooding in the local area, while streams and rivers can often end up polluted due to oily cooking waste entering rainwater pipes and gullies.

FAQs

How do you dispose of cooking oil and grease? Is it safe to put oil down the drain?

Most people understand that pouring FOG down a narrow plughole creates a risk of blockages, but fewer are aware that pouring oil directly into a drain or down the toilet is just as risky. Even though these substances flow easily in their hot liquid form, they will solidify when they make contact with the colder water inside the plumbing and sewage system, leading to the development of blockages and ‘fatbergs’.

Can smaller food scrapings be washed down the sink?

It can seem harmless enough to wash a few loose food scrapings down the plughole instead of disposing of them all in the bin, but be aware that even smaller food scraps and crumbs can accumulate in the drains – particularly in U-bends – or clump together with fat deposits that are already in the pipes to add up to a much bigger problem.

Can boiling water be used to dissolve fat and grease in the pipes?

For many, the first course of action when dealing with a blocked drain is to pour boiling water down the plughole to break down the obstacle, but be warned that this does not work with serious FOG blockages that have solidified over a long period.

Can wipes and nappies be flushed down the toilet?

These items will clog up your toilet in a heartbeat. Even if one actually gets down your toilet’s line, it can get easily get caught in the system’s turns and bends, causing a backup of the sewer into your house

 

What to do

Dispose of food scraps in the bin

The easiest change to make to prevent FOG blockages is to make sure those plates, pans and utensils are scraped clean of solid food waste prior to washing. Be disciplined about brushing even the smallest scraps into the bin, and make sure to wipe down the items with kitchen roll to mop up the oil and grease before running them under the tap.

Remove waste oil manually and ensure it is disposed of responsibily

Larger quantities of waste oil – for example, the liquid left over in pans and trays after cooking – should be collected in a designated container before they have a chance to cool and congeal. Once solidified, it can be emptied into the bin, Your local Council will also collect your waste oil - as long as it is stored in sealed container.

Make use of tools like sink strainers & grease traps

A simple sink strainer can make a huge difference in helping you to ensure that solid food waste is not accidentally washed down your sink. Special grease traps can also be fitted in the drainpipes to separate FOG from the rest of the wastewater,

Get in touch

We will deal with 

  • External drains including drain clearance and minor blockages that you cannot unblock using plungers and drain cleaning materials
  • Minor blockages to sinks that you cannot unblock using plungers and drain clearing materials

Dealing with minor blockages to sinks is your responsibility. We will attend to assist if you have followed the steps below and have not been able to clear the blockage, although there may be charges for this if we consider the blockage was caused by you  

  • Try to unblock using plungers and drain clearing materials
  • Contact neighbours to see if they share the problem
  • Contact the local water authority if there is an overflowing manhole outside the property as a shared drain could be blocked

If you are worried about a blocked drain, get in touch with us on:

03003 039 848

24-hour emergency repair line: 0800 318 259