blockage/damage on private sewer pipe

30 Apr 2014
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United Kingdom
Hi guys my first time here so forgive me if i ask what has already been asked or belongs in a different place.

Lived in my property 20yrs mid terrace (ex local authority built mid 40's)and have never had any issues with drains blocking until the last 6 weeks and its happened 3 times! This property has a manhole cover half on my side half on neighbours under the bloody fence! 5 properties share the main line which runs somewhere off the manhole underneath my garden up under neighbouring gardens.And flows out of the property underneath a shared alley between me and my neighbours, my gully and pipe obviously join into this main one at some part in my garden.

the gully below kitchen window was backed up even had poo floating around in it,I called a guy out he came straight away £89 high pressure jetting and the cuplrit was caught in the main manhole in his worm rod attachment, antibacterial wipes!

my 13 year old son admitted he had flushed by accident after wiping the toilet.Thought the problem was solved,then lo and behold 16 days later i look out to see gully overflowing again,and again poop in it.I was going nuts blaming my son for flushing wipes again lol, I got my big heavy duty elbow length glove and started bailing out and tipping into main sewer and then plunging down the gully with an old mop,and also drain rods with the rubber plunger attachment,this did nothing except bring up more poo lol yuk .

Call the drain guy again, and he said to get severn trent out as if its a fault on the main line they will be responsible and do repairs.
they came out did a bit of plunging in the gulley and then said its definitely your private drain that is the issue you will have to get someone in.
call drain guy back ,again high pressure jetted it,he said he felt some resistance upon putting down the jet hose and tried to gauge how much hose had gone down before it snagged,which was around a metre away from my gully,10 mins of jetting and an eruption up the manhole,a tesco bag for life!!

Now how the hell this could have even got into the system is beyond me as my gully has a grate over and also i made a felted sloping cover to hide the drain so it couldnt have blown in and ended up in the pipes.

He was decent not to charge that time as he said it may have been there the first time and hadnt come through.He jetted again threw buckets of water down all was fine.
Now 10 days on the dam thing is backed up again! Seriously im now beyond frustrated how can this keep happening?
Call the plumber again and he advised me it may be best to get a camera in to check once and for all but unfortunately he dont have the kit,he could come and unblock again but may be cheaper to get someone with camera to do both.

In meantime i have called buildings insurance who say that until i have a camera survey and a report given to them they wont know if I am covered for whatever is causing the problem,if its tree roots (i have no trees in my property) then it will be accidental damage and my excess is £100,anything else and the excess is £500 (escape of water)
So i arrange a camera survey,they came last night at a cost of £165 all they did was put the camera down into the main sewer line from the manhole and feed it up to where my pipe obviously joins,they said they couldnt go up into my pipe that way and you cant get into it via the gully so basically the whole thing was pointless as it proved nothing and i am none the wiser as to what the problem is,so that is gonna be completely pointless if I want to use their report for insurance as it was inconclusive,needless to say I may as well have threw £165 down the drain as Im still blocked!

They used rod and plunger down gulley a few times while camera sat in the sewer,at part where my pipe joins,you seen it suddenly start flowing,was told to let kitchen tap run so they could see if it was getting into main drain, again now nothing was coming through,maybe a slight trickle at best
Am now told the only way to find out the problem is to excavate down from the gully to the area where my plumber felt a restriction,

problem being money now i have none left lol , my dad who worked in the building trade said,he cant believe that there is no access for rodding on my property near the gully or where there used to be an outside loo.Especially being council built properties who were usually pretty strict on that kind of thing and has advised me to speak to neighbours to see if they have rodding eye access in their gardens or some kind of inspection chamber.if so at some point in time mine may have been covered over.Apart from that the only other suggestion he said was for me to remove the toilet in the bathroom and rod down that way (dunno if that would work)as this goes into my private pipe. Or dig out where my outside loo was and rod down the old hole for that,which someone filled in with concrete yrs back by look of it .

I have zero money left to start digging up let alone pay an insurance excess of £500 as ive recently become a single mum and currently am not working so money is very tight,i have mortgage to pay and have used more or less the last of my savings trying to get this problem sorted to no avail.

People are telling me why did you pay the camera survey if the problem still remains,and they couldnt fix the problem,should i have refused payment? i dont know. I knew that they couldnt get access from the gully end with rods due to the u bend that would be in the pipe but i had thought the cameras would be flexible to go around the bend from the main sewer and up into my pipe that way,if I had known it wasnt, i would not have wasted £165 to be left in the same position I was before they came.

Surely if a high pressure jetting hose can go down a gully and round a u bend then why is it not possible for a flexible camera to do the same thing?
i feel like im going insane and dont know what to do for the best ,if the drains had collapsed then surely the water when it jetted going into main sewer would have been dirty and gritty?,and also nothing would flow through at all? the original guy says he doesnt think that there is damage but until you physically see anything its impossible to tell.

How much am I looking at by having to dig up down to pipes,and if i do will it be possible for me to put an inspection camber in to stop future issues?
My run of bad luck just keeps coming 2014 can go and do one ,cheers folk
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Right, well firstly the main run sounds like it's shared so would be Severn Trent's responsibility to fix, but it seems there is no problem there, I assume you've seen the footage they did film with the camera?

Now I take it the problem lies with your run from the house to the main run. Unfortunately although rules were set for drainage right from the Victorian era, they didn't always get followed, especially with the rush of post war building. I've been out to Council properties in this area many times to be faced with the problem, where to work from to clear the blockage. Several streets only have a manhole every 4th house.....

From your description, the kitchen gulley, upstairs bathroom and former downstairs (Outside W.C.) all join into the one pipe before joining the main sewer. Chances are the problem is between where the upstairs WC joins and the main sewer, hence why you're getting contents of the WC reappearing. However, if the main line is clear, that bag can only have found it's way in from your property. (When was the outside WC sealed off? Bag may have been used here to plug the pipe prior to concreting.)

Looks like it'll have to be dug up, point of blockage found and fixed, then would be wise to fit a chamber to allow future access if need arises. As for cost, too many variables to say without being on site sadly.
yeah they are all closely connected ,i have my washing machine on at the moment and have stood over manhole on boundary while it was emptying and no sign of the water reaching the main sewer,so it is still blocked somewhere, i did however witness a richard the 3rd go by hahahaha

i dunno what to do for best,insurance are a waste of time as they said they cannot tell me what the excess would be until they start a claim and have someone come out and start digging up so basically they could say what they like.Been done by insurance excess before so I know exactly what they play like,which is why im so apprehensive

Maximum excess I'm looking at is £500 that would cover me upto a £1000 worth of work being carried out,so i guess i give em 500 they give me 500 lol,
its just that as I've already paid £400 myself i dont know if i could put that towards the claim and just pay 100 to make up the excess, as it is all down to the same recurring problem? hmmm if not and they come to find it just blocked again due to whatever,(which im not covered for) im sure they would make an extortionate fee,im in 2 minds to get the original guy out to jet it for half price one last time as he said he would,before paying out any more huge sums ,but on that note I cant be paying 50 quid every 10 days either lol.

As for the outside toilet it was done shortly after purchase of the property around 19 years ago as the supply to it under kitchen sink had corroded and was flooding.I havent a clue how the work was done but those bags im pretty sure werent around then as when it came up it looked pretty new and recent which is why im so baffled how it could have got in there,i remember plunging my toilet once with an old mop with a bag cabled tied to it,but that is still in my shed for the next time lol.

I have always had issues now and then with upstairs loo (even after new bathroom fitting) sometimes blocking after the lads have been (hence why i have the glove) as they have to nudge timmy turd down now and then. I used to put that down to the connecting pipe from pan to soil vent being rough and paper getting caught on it causing it to block from time to time but maybe this could have all been building to the problem i have now,but why now after 20 yrs? surely would have happened before now and considering that after jetting the system ran freely for a while.

Im just thinking now when Severn Trent came the guy put a bin liner over his hand and down into the gully to feel around and try and manually plunge it,maybe this could have ended up coming off and he kept quiet? but then again i had it jetted after that when the carrier bag came up so if he had dropped the bin liner down then im sure that would have came up too.
Yes I stood watching the screen from the camera as I was intrigued to see what was down there hahaha ,I have never spent so much time poised over a manhole betting when a floater is gonna sail by .

In your opinion do you think it will be worth going via insurance as the cctv drain company said it may not cost as much as the excess to do it privately but again its just guesswork,i dont wanna kick myself in the arse as then i will have paid almost £1000, and would you considering having it jetted one final time to see if anything actually comes up,it is quite fascinating standing there watching to see what the culprit is :D :D :D :D
I'd be looking for recommendations for a Builder (if you don't already know anyone), to give you a price to dig it up and fit a chamber, before deciding whether to go down the insurance route or not.

Jetting may shift whatever is in the way, but how long it works for is anyone's guess. Something isn't right, drains don't go for years and then suddenly start blocking frequently, something has to be causing the problem.... That needs CCTV to identify and CCTV cant be done unless the pipe can be accessed. Jetter is just a nozzle on the end of a hose, so will go round tight bends. Camera is a bit bigger and needs some room to get into the pipe.

Upstairs may just be the pan, new toilets don't always clear so well as the older ones, not allowed to use so much water for the flush anymore. (EU regs.) If downstairs WC has been out of use for the last 19 years I doubt that's the problem, and it certainly wouldn't be a bag for life from back then I'm sure. :confused:
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drain company just came back out 2 young lads this time,they jetted it again down gully instead of plunging and it has cleared the problem for time being,they have suggested putting the camera down the soil stack as that will feed into the area where the problem seems to be but will come back to do that at a later time,

I rang the drain company regards how much would likely cost to dig up so they can access and put camera down near the gulley and repair they said would be looking at half a days job for them to lift the slabs dig down sort the problem and relay slabs and it would be around £300 ,so cheaper than the insurance route thats for sure

thanks for the help so far i can now go to the loo in peace pmsl
Not sure if i understood this right but from my understanding you have two manholes in some form. one that is on yours and your neighbors boundary and another which connects that manhole to the main?

If that's the case, the CCTV survey was done on the manhole connecting to the mains?

Is there any access from the one on your boundary? if so may be worth getting a cheap cctv drain inspection camera yourself and see if you can get anywhere with that from your manhole? that way you can spend as long as you need to poke it along the pipes without any additional cost to yourself other then the cost of the camera? (you many need a tv or screen accessible to watch what your doing)
That is always an option, going in with the CCTV from the stack, (it is easier when you're on site as can see exactly what's what!). If they're cutting into the stack ask for a access point to be fitted, wont be much more hassle to fit if the stack has already been split open. It may give you the access you need and avoid the need for excavations, either way, for what it's worth it wont hurt anything.

Fingers crossed you can get sorted and may your pipes flow in peace. Any more hassles drop by and we'll see what we can do to assist. :LOL:

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