Dodgy Drains - any ideas?

Hi All,
We've got a problem with our drains!
Am I worrying to soon? Toilet, sink and bath are all taking a long
time drain/flush. It has been like this for the last week or so.
Do you think if I leave this it might fix itself or should I take a
look sooner rather than later? I've no previous experience with
drains.
The next question, should there be a manhole on our property? If so,
then I can't find it!!
Below is (hopefully) a link to a noddy diagram I've done to illustrate
our layout. Any idea where I should look?
[IMG]
formatting link
some reason, I think there may be a drain in the bottom right hand
corner but this is a raised bed (lots of slate) with no obvious
manholes. Short of digging random holes I'm not sure where to look.
Do the council maintain plans of drains?
The house is ~1910 with an extension dating from ~1930 at the back.And
it's corner plot.
Any suggestions welcome!
Cheers.
Reply to
beamer
Worry! It won't get .better. Only call a 'drain expert' company as a last resort, they cost a bloody fortune.
Sooner.
Not necessarily, could be shared with a neighbour on a property that age. If you find one next door, put some food die in your bog, flush & watch :-)
Unlikely IME to have an inspection cover on the 'wrong' side of the house especially in a raised bed.
Not sure, I guess so, give them a call.
Sounds like a single blockage is causing everything to slow down. Do the wastes from bath & basin empty into a hopper or are they connected to the soil pipe? I'd guess the latter. Photo of the outside?
Try some caustic soda (B&Q) it might shift things. Nasty stuff, follow the instructions.
Biggest blockage causes IME - (1) female sanitary products, (2) plastic smelly things, (3) toddlers stuffing all sorts down loo.
Reply to
The Medway Handyman
Hi In fullagreement with TMH do something now. You say 1910 build unless you are in a big city most urban houses had shared toilets in those days and rven in 1930 outside loo's were the norm'. If your toilet soil pipe is plastic then you have had a conversion done and if done correctly the builder would have had to fit a man hole to connect into the outside toilet. Unfortunately IME most simply ran into the underground hopper of the outside loo ,put a slate or flag over the top and filled it in. After a while this erodes and the hopper fills with soil bricks etc which trap paper etc(you get the picture)
HTH
CJ
Reply to
cj
On Mon, 10 Dec 2007 13:43:28 -0800 (PST) someone who may be beamer wrote this:-
It might, but the chances of it doing do are probably under 5%.
Sooner. Don't leave it until the weekend.
There should be at least one, but to some extent this depends on the drains. Does the "drain for bathroom" take the toilet? Does the "drain for kitchen" go directly into the ground, or does it discharge into a gully? Is the "soil pipe" connected to any appliances? Where is the road (the sewer is usually there)?
At a guess there should be one or two manholes at the back of the house, they are often provided where one or more drains join. They are also provided at major changes in direction, so if the sewer is at the front then there will be one to the right of the house, where the drain turns through a right angle to go down the right side of the house. If the grey thing to the right of the drawing is the road then the drain probably goes directly to it from the back of the house.
At the edge of your property there is probably an intercepting trap, in a manhole. These are often the source of trouble and are sometimes revealed by an above ground air vent, though many of these have been removed by misguided DIYers.
You may also find that the drains of your house are combined with those of an adjacent house and so go in an unexpected direction. Does a neighbour have the same problem?
Over the years someone may have "improved" the property by removing or covering over the "unsightly" covers. The way to deal with this is to know where the drains are likely to run and look in likely places.
Once you have found where the drains run, which is best done before it becomes urgent (I mention this so others can learn the lesson), raise the inspection covers and see which chambers are full, or partly full. A blockage lies between the full one and the empty one. Hire or buy some rods and rod from the full chamber towards the empty one. If the last one is full rod from there to the public sewer. If there is an intercepting trap try using the plunger to clear the obstruction from the trap, as it is usually something in the trap. If this doesn't clear it rod through the rodding arm, after removing the stopper if it is still there. Use a search engine to find a drawing of an intercepting trap if you need one, I'm not describing one.
This has been discussed in previous posts, which you can find with a search engine, for full details.
Also visit your library and find a book that covers drains. The drawings in it should be worth a thousand words here.
Reply to
David Hansen
On 10 Dec,
Are there any spots that thaw quicker in snowy/icy weather? The Inspection chamber may be lurking there.
The problem won't go away. It may appear spectacularly in your garden ,or that of a neighbour, depending on how the land lies. Otherwise you'll be in the .....
Reply to
<me9
If the drain is shared and the house built pre 1930 then it ain't your problem. It'll either be the council's or the water company. In my case it's Thames Water and pretty damned efficient they are too.
Reply to
Stuart Noble
On 11 Dec, 12:02, Stuart Noble wrote:
Hi All,
Thanks for the many replies. I expected this sort of response! Better get off my backside and deal with it ASAP.
I'll try and cover everything.
- I tried the council and water company - very very prompt reply (within 30 mins!) but they don't hold detailed plans. - I've spoken to neighbours on all sides. No one else is having problems. I'm guessing that this means they aren't shared but this is no guarantee! - manhole nextdoor is a long way from my house and has been replaced approx 6 years ago so they know it isn't used by us. - worked out the raised bed is not actually raised. I think it is the old level and the rest of the driveway has been dug out easier to drive up. - soil pipe is clay -soil vent pipe is cast iron. - I can't see where the sink, toilet and bathroom waste link up. I've only go access to two 6" (ish) square drains. I can't even see the soil pipe outside the house. - grey bit on the right hand side of the picture is a side road (houses about 1960s). - main road runs left to right at the bottom of the picture. - judging by the water co plan there is a sewer running down the middle of the main road and a smaller one running down the centre of the side road. - logically I would expect we are using the sewer in the main road??
My plan as it stands is...... Tonight I bought some caustic soda* and put a healthy amount into both of the accessible drains. I don't think this will work but for the money it's worth a go. If this hasn't worked by the morning, I'm going to sneak out of work a couple hours early and have an exploratory dig in the 'raised' area. If that fails, I'll then have to start taking up the 6m * 6m decking to see if there is a manhole under there. Eck. If that fails, I go to the pub and contemplate (and use their bathroom!!)
Thanks for all tyour suggestions!
* Not called caustic soda anymore apparently. Few to choose from but picked one with the most health warnings.
Reply to
beamer
On Tue, 11 Dec 2007 14:54:57 -0800 (PST) someone who may be beamer wrote this:-
The original drain may well have been under or near the drive.
You didn't mention that before:-) If it is at the back of the house it probably covers what you are looking for.
Reply to
David Hansen
At least they can't tell you it's *not* a shared drain then.
Indeed. If you're at the end of the run, you'll probably get the symptoms first.
Bugger it. I'd get the water board out. They've got the gear to flush it from the road if necessary. If they can't find the access, then you know it isn't in an obvious place.
Reply to
Stuart Noble
Yes, logically, I would expect to see the manhole somewhere near to where all those gullies and soil pipe are and all of them discharging into it. If there is decking there ir does sound as if it may be under it. Who the hell put the decking down?
Reply to
Maris
I saw one that was a children's sand pit, so you knew where the manhole was but would have to lift 50kgs or so to get to it
Reply to
Stuart Noble
On Dec 12, 4:58 pm, Stuart Noble wrote:
Hi All,
Sorry. I forgot to mention the decking. I pulled up every 3 or 4 plank and dug around with an old screwdriver. No sign of any drain. Also had a look at the 'raised' area with no sucess. Possibly it's buried deeper but who knows?
Very heavy frost this morning and no warmer parts of the garden were evident.
Tried proper caustic soda as well with no success. The B&Q nearest to me said they didn't stock it? Had to resort to HomeBase.
Not sure what to try next. Reluctant to call out water board at =A3111 per hour. Visions of them standing around having a smoke at nearly =A32 a minute!
Not sure what to do next but run out of daylight to do any more today. Probably spend a bit more time on it tomorrow before I finally admit defeat.
Thanks for all the suggestions so far!
P.S. It wasn't me that laid the decking in case you're wondering :)
Reply to
beamer
Am no expert on drains but I'd try to find out where the manholes are on either side of you.
I'd expect the manholes are where each house drain tees into the main line, so might be able to find out how it runs across your property and look for likely places where yours might be.
cheers, Pete.
Reply to
Pete C
Hi,
Thanks for the suggestion but I have already considered that. On one side, they have had all the drains replaced (at a cost of =A36K!!) so they know I'm not using it. The other side of the house is a side road (we're on a corner plot) and the house to the rear has also had problem in the past and insist that their drain only serves their house.
Eck.
Reply to
beamer
Caustic is overrated as a drain cleaner. It very gradually dissolves oil and fat but does nothing if the problem is something else.
But they must do it for free if it's shared. They don't exactly publicise the fact though. It's a shame we can't establish whether that's the case.
Try shoving a length of garden hose round the toilet U bend. Good luck.
Reply to
Stuart Noble
Hi Another though considering the new info' you say the house at the rear had problems ? Is there (or was there) a path between you? If so look there you may have shared a 'Tipler' outside loo years ago (these were up to 12feet deep) . You also mention cast iron fittings ,as an end house check the rainwater run offs these connect to the same main drain but were dropped into when inside plumbing took off.
Failing that get out the devining rods .(really does work only trouble is doesn't just sense drains) or borrow ground radar from 'Time Team' (hehe)
sorry CJ
Reply to
cj
Hi All,
Thanks for the suggestions. I may have made a small amount of progress. I (ok it was the wife) had the idea of contacting the house's previous owner.
Eventually, with the help of the Companies House website I tracked him down and paid him a visit. He is pretty sure that there is a vent pipe in the 'raised' area at the front. I can't see anything so I'm assuming it has to be buried.
He was also responsible for putting in the decking and turfing the whole back garden and is 100% sure there are no manhole covers to be found.
Saturday morning will be spent digging up all the slate, membrane and whatever else I find. Fingers crossed.
Cheers.
Reply to
beamer

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