Who is Responsible for Blocked Drains?

A blocked drain is one of the most disruptive issues that can occur within a building’s structure. At best, it is inconvenient and at worst, it can pose serious health risks and cause significant structural damage to plumbing systems and property. So, it can help to know who is responsible for blocked drains and how they can go about solving the problem – and that’s what 1st Call Drain Clearance are here to explain.

Who is responsible for blocked drains?

The responsibility for the drains depends on what kind of drains they are. If the problem is in a lateral drain, then this is usually connected to the public sewer system – contact your local water company as it is often their responsibility. These kinds of drains are often shared between neighbours, so if you notice a problem, either you or your neighbour can get in touch with the relevant professionals. 

If the blockage is within your property boundary, then it is your responsibility to arrange for it to be resolved. Lateral drains are connected to your private drains, but they are often located outside of the property boundary, so they aren’t your responsibility. 


If the problem is in a sewer, then that is not your responsibility – it’s the responsibility of the local water authority.

Rented properties

If there’s a drainage problem in a rental property, then the tenancy agreement will need to be consulted – this should establish who – landlord or tenant – is responsible for arranging the unblocking of the drain. 

How to clear blocked drains

A blocked drain can be deeply unpleasant, and it’s crucial that any blocked drains are unblocked as a matter of urgency. Blocked drains can lead to a backup of water, which can rise up through plug holes and toilets, filling your property with foul-smelling and disease-harbouring water. 

If your toilet isn’t flushing properly, if your sink is taking a while to drain or if you’ve noticed poor water pressure in your shower or taps, then you may have a blocked drain. 

Step 1: Assess

Try to ascertain the problem with a visual inspection. Take off the drain cover and see if you can see a blockage – be sure to wear gloves and a mask if possible, as it can be very unpleasant. If you can see the problem and it looks doable, then tackle it yourself – we’ll explain the process in the following steps. If you can’t see a way to solve it, then contact a professional drainage company like 1st Call Drain Clearance to resolve the issue for you.

Step 2: Equipment

You need to purchase a drainage rod. These can be found in hardware stores, and they’ll allow you to reach down into the drain and break up whatever’s blocking it. 

It’s vital that you’re wearing the appropriate clothing, most important is protective goggles, something to cover your mouth and nose, and rubber gloves. There’s a lot of bacteria milling about in your drains, and contact with it can lead to serious illness. 

Finally, a pressure washer or hose is needed.

Step 3: Unblock

If you have the correct clothing, including hard-wearing gloves, then you can reach into the drain and remove what you can by hand. Make sure to wear long sleeves to minimise contact between the sludge and your skin. Pull up what you can, and put it in a bucket. 

You’ll need to use the drainage rod for deeper blockages. Push the rod into the blockage, and once it’s in, turn it clockwise to break up the material. As it breaks up, it should start to drain away. 

Step 4: Hose it down

Once the job has been completed, get your hose and blast away any excess waste around the drain. This will eliminate any smaller bits that you might have missed. 

Step 5: Test the waters

Go inside and flush the toilet or run the taps. If the toilet flushes normally and fills up normally, or if the sink drains as usual, then you’ve successfully unblocked your drains. If the problem persists, then you may need professional assistance, so contact a reputable drainage company.

Unblocking your drains is an unpleasant job, but it’s an important one. Make sure to act quickly once you notice drainage issues – slow toilet flushing/filling, poor water pressure, slow sink drainage and at worst water backups. The quicker you act, the lesser the impact of the problem.

1st Call Drain Clearance are experts in a wide range of drainage services including drain unblocking. Using state of the art technology including CCTV drain surveys, we can unblock public and private drains alike and deal with blocked sewers with efficiency and professionalism. Contact us today for more information –  we serve customers throughout London.