Give Your Surface Water Drainage Systems a Health Check Before Winter Arrives

Benjamin Franklin, a famous inventor and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, once proclaimed that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This adage certainly applies to the surface water drainage around your property. Taking time to inspect your guttering and disposal pipes a few times per year is much easier than repairing the damage once a blockage has occurred.


According to Water UK, around 366,000 sewer blockages occur across the UK each year, resulting in the flooding of more than 3,000 properties. Regular maintenance of your drainage systems helps prevent your property from becoming a part of this statistic.


Distinguish Between Foul and Surface Water Drainage

It’s a little-known fact that most buildings built after 1970 have two distinct drainage systems, one for foul water and second for surface water.


Surface water systems collect rainwater and runoff from sources such as gardens, driveways, roofs, downpipes and gutters.


Foul water systems are exactly what they sound like, and remove water from the waste pipes such as your bath or shower, toilet and kitchen.


Distinguishing between these two drainage types is extremely important. While foul water is transported to a water treatment plant, surface water drains typically return straight into rivers and other water sources untreated. For this reason, it’s critical to avoid disposing of any chemical products via surface water drainage, as this will directly pollute nearby bodies of water or make its way back into drinking water.


A Few Common Culprits Cause the Majority of Blocked Drains


  • Plant matter: Leaves and twigs can build up and create a blockage in external drainage systems such as guttering. Did you know that tree roots are powerful enough to crack through thick metal pipes over time and create an obstruction? If you have any large trees or shrubs located near drains or pipes, it’s worth regularly checking to see if they are harming your drainage system.


  • Fats, oils, and grease: You’ve likely received notices from your water company about the importance of keeping fats, oils, and greases (FOG) out of your drains. Their warnings come for a reason: Around three-quarters of sewer blockages are caused by fats, oils, and grease in addition to a few other items such as sanitary waste and wipes. It can seem convenient at the moment to pour these substances down the drain, but dealing with the consequences can cause headaches later on.


Other Common Problems With Surface Drains

Anything that prevents your surface drainage system from performing optimally can incur additional costs from your water provider, as well as unwanted standing water on your property. This can include cracks in your guttering or eavestroughs, as well as blockages. The elevation of the ground on your property can also have a major impact on how surface water flows. Essentially anything that causes surface water to leak or overflow instead of being directed as intended will have ill effects.


Maintaining Your Drainage System

A limited amount of drain maintenance work can be done yourself, such as clearing debris from gutters or using commercially-available drain cleaning products. Once a severe blockage occurs however, you will need the assistance of a professional. The average cost of calling a company to clear a drain is £66, but this can easily save thousands by preventing serious damage and potential flooding further down the line.


Using special tools, a professional drain cleaning service can examine the insides of your pipes for blockages and manually remove most of the blockage. Chemicals are then used to flush any remaining material, and a chemical coating is applied to the inside of your pipes which allow water to flow more easily.


Reduce Your Surface Water Drainage Charges

Water companies charge for the use of their sewer systems to dispose of your unwanted water. For this reason, you should aim to reduce the amount of surface water leaving your property via these systems as much as possible. There are several alternatives, such as the use of French drains or a soakaway.


If you have inspected your surface drainage yourself and still feel there is room for improvement, H2O Building Services can help. Our team of “Water Audit Experts” have over 20 years of experience in assisting businesses by detecting and repairing leaks, identifying overcharging by water companies, and performing comprehensive water audits. Contact us to start reducing your surface water costs today.