Who's responsible for doing the work?
You are responsible for all the pipes inside the property. These include toilets, sink drains and any outdoor guttering or pipes attached to the property. You’re also responsible for the section of pipe from where the pipes go into the ground, either directly or into a gully close to the property, until it reaches a public sewer (unless this is shared with your neighbour).
Don't worry, we're still on hand to give you advice and we'll help you as much as we can.
3. Next steps
If it's a problem with our pipework, we’ll take responsibility and sort it.
Every situation is different, so it’s difficult to know how long the problem will take to fix. If it’s a simple problem, we may be able to fix it on our first visit. Fixing big problems can be complicated and may take a while, so we may need to come back to do further work. If we need access to your property again, we’ll get in touch to arrange another appointment.
Always stay safe
Sewage leaks can be very dangerous so it's important you stay safe.
- Do not walk through flood waters if you can avoid it - they may contain sewage and other dangers. You should also keep children and pets away from the affected area.
- Wash your hands and disinfect footwear after any contact with the sewage.
- Turn off electricity and gas points if sewage is in danger of reaching them.
- Take extra care around flooded areas - manhole covers may have been moved by the water. You might not be able to see this, and you could fall and injure yourself.
- Never attempt to unblock a sewer yourself – this would put you at risk and could make the situation worse. You should wait for one of our professionals to come and deal with the problem.
- Protect cuts and grazes with waterproof dressings and wear rubber gloves to protect yourself while cleaning up.
- Don’t eat any fruit or vegetables grown in the garden if there has been a sewage leak, and don’t plant any new ones for at least six months.
Questions about sewage flooding and leaks?
What causes a sewer to leak or flood?
There are many things that could cause a sewer to leak or flood, here are some examples:
- The sewer could become too full because of heavy rainfall.
- A river may have overflowed, or internal plumbing problems may have pushed water into the sewer causing it to flood.
- Sewers can become blocked by flushing the wrong things or pouring fat and oil down the kitchen sink.
- Tree roots can damage sewers as they grow.
- The sewer may have collapsed.
- There might be a problem with the pumping station.
How can I prevent sewer leaks and flooding?
One of the biggest causes of sewer flooding is a blockage caused by flushing wipes or pouring fat down the kitchen sink. For more information on what can go down the drains and what shouldn’t, see our Bin it campaign.
What are you doing to help stop sewer leaks and flooding?
A small number of properties are at risk because of overloaded sewers and we are putting money into a programme to lower this. We'll let you know if yours is at risk and keep you up to date with how we’re getting on.
If weather conditions are extreme, like a major storm, we can’t guarantee a sewer won’t flood or leak – even if we respond quickly. If this happens and your property is at risk, we’ll send someone to look at the problem as quickly as possible. If sewage has already entered your property, you will be a priority.
How do I clean my property after a sewer leak?
- Wash all hard surfaces with a mild detergent or disinfectant. If you are using disinfectant, don’t wipe it off immediately or it won’t work as well.
- Put any soft furnishings that are heavily damaged and can’t be repaired outside – this will help stop bacteria spreading.
- Wash all clothing, bedding and other soft items at 60°c or above. Items that aren’t machine washable should be professionally cleaned or disposed of.
- Let everything dry completely – this will help kill germs. Gentle heating with ventilation will help things dry.
How do I clean my garden after a sewer leak?
- Wash and disinfect hard surfaces like paths and drives – keep off them for 3 hours to let the disinfectant work.
- Don’t apply disinfectant to lawns and borders because it can kill plants. The best thing to do is leave them and let nature take its course.
- Don’t dig or rake any affected ground, this will spread the bacteria deeper into the soil.
- The sun’s UV rays are great at killing bacteria. This can happen in just 9 days when the weather is warm and dry. If the weather is cold and wet, it could take around 25 days for bacteria levels to return to normal.