How to Spot a Collapsed Drain

Identifying and Dealing With a Collapsed Drain

That gurgling sound from your pipes – is it just a blockage…or something worse? The dread of a collapsed drain can quickly turn any homeowner into an amateur plumber, frantically searching for answers online. But don’t panic – you’re in the right place. Drainflow has helped countless customers across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and North London navigate the murky waters of drain problems.

We know the stress and uncertainty that householders feel with a suspected collapsed drain. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you:

  • Clearly identify the telltale signs of a collapsed drain.
  • Understand what causes this issue (and if your old pipes are to blame).
  • Know your options for repair and when to call in the experts.

With decades of experience under our belt, Drainflow is here to provide the clarity, information, and solutions you need to get your drains flowing smoothly again. So, let’s dive in and get to the bottom of your drainage woes!


How Do I Know If I’ve Got a Collapsed Drain?

Spotting a collapsed drain isn’t always straightforward, but there are several telltale signs to watch out for. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to take action:

  1. Recurring Blockages – While the occasional clogged up drain is normal, frequent blockages even after clearing them can be a red flag. If your drains seem to be constantly backing up, a collapsed pipe might be the culprit.
  2. Bad Smells – That rotten egg odour wafting from your drains isn’t just unpleasant—it’s a sign that sewage isn’t flowing properly. A collapsed drain can cause wastewater to pool, releasing noxious gases into your home.
  3. Subsidence – Notice any dips or depressions in your garden, especially near your sewer line? This could indicate a collapsed drain underground, causing the soil above to shift and settle.
  4. Damp Patches or Mould – Unexplained damp patches on walls, floors, or ceilings – especially if accompanied by a musty smell – could signal a leak caused by a collapsed drain. This moisture can lead to mould growth.
  5. Slow Drainage – If water drains slowly in multiple fixtures throughout your house (not just one sink or toilet), it’s likely a larger issue than a simple blockage. A collapsed drain restricts water flow, leading to sluggish drainage everywhere.
  6. Pest Infestation – Rats, flies, and other pests are drawn to the stagnant water and sewage created by a collapsed drain. If you notice an increase in pest activity around your property, it could be a sign of trouble brewing beneath the surface.

Remember, these are just some of the most common indicators of a collapsed drain. If you’re unsure or notice any of these signs, it’s always best to consult a professional drainage expert like Drainflow.


Confirming the State of Your Drains With a CCTV Drain Survey

While the signs mentioned above can strongly suggest a collapsed drain, there’s only one way to know for sure – a CCTV drain survey. This state-of-the-art technology allows drainage experts like Drainflow to get a crystal-clear look inside your pipes.

Confirming the State of Your Drains: The Power of a CCTV Drain Survey

How Does a CCTV Drain Survey Work?

  1. A high-resolution camera is inserted into your drains through an access point.
  2. This camera travels through the pipework, transmitting live footage back to a monitor.
  3. Drainflow technicians carefully analyse the video feed, looking for signs of damage, blockages, or—you guessed it—a collapsed drain.

Why is a CCTV Drain Survey Essential?

  • Accurate Diagnosis – Pinpoint the exact location and severity of the collapse.
  • Informed Decisions – Determine the best repair method based on the survey findings.
  • Cost-Effective – Avoid unnecessary digging or repairs by targeting the problem area directly.
  • Peace of Mind – Gain a clear understanding of your drainage system’s health and potential issues.
  • Liability Clarification – The survey results help determine responsibility for repairs, especially if the collapse occurred on or near your property boundary.

At Drainflow, we use advanced CCTV drain survey equipment to provide you with a comprehensive report and video recording of your drainage system. This detailed assessment empowers you to make informed decisions about repairs and ensures that any work carried out is targeted and effective.


Who is Responsible for a Collapsed Drain?

Discovering a collapsed drain is stressful enough, but figuring out who’s responsible for the repair can add another layer of confusion. Fortunately, recent regulations have made this process a bit clearer.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Within Your Property Boundary – If the collapsed drain is entirely within the boundaries of your property, you are responsible for both the repair and ongoing maintenance.
  • Connected Drains or Beyond Your Boundary – If the collapsed drain:

– Connects to a neighbour’s drain.

– Connects to the main public sewer.

– Extends beyond your property boundary.

The responsibility usually shifts to your water supplier. They are responsible for maintaining the shared and public sections of the drainage system.

Even if the repair falls under your water supplier’s responsibility, the blockage or collapse itself might have originated on your property. In this case, you may still be liable for the initial investigation or certain repair costs. It’s important to consult with your water supplier and potentially a drainage expert to determine the exact responsibilities and costs involved.


Repairing a Collapsed Drain – What to Expect

The type and scale of repair needed for a collapsed drain depends largely on the extent of the damage, the location of the collapse, and the materials of your existing pipework. While a collapsed drain may sound like a major undertaking, repairs aren’t always as extensive as you might think.

In some cases, localised repairs using techniques like patch repairs or pipe relining can be effective. These methods are often less invasive and disruptive than traditional excavation, making them a popular choice for minor collapses. However, for more severe damage or collapses in hard-to-reach areas, excavation and pipe replacement may be necessary.

While a collapsed drain can seem like an unexpected expense, it’s worth checking your home insurance policy. It may be covered under Accidental Damage. It’s always best to consult your insurer to confirm your coverage and understand any potential claims process.

Regardless of the repair method, getting collapsed drain fixed is crucial. Ignoring the problem can lead to further damage, costly repairs down the line, and potential health hazards due to sewage leaks.

The Drainflow team will assess the situation and recommend the most suitable repair solution for your specific needs and budget. We prioritise minimal disruption and aim to get your drains flowing smoothly again as quickly as possible.


If you’re experiencing any of the signs mentioned in this guide, contact Drainflow. Our team of drainage experts will identify the problem, determine the best course of action, and get your drains back in shape.