Across England, drains serving homes and businesses are currently under much greater strain than usual due to heavy rain and flooding. When Storm Henk arrived in early January, it unleashed torrential downpours on vast swathes of the country, becoming the eighth major storm in just three months, as BBC News reports. At the time of writing, more than 160 flood warnings are in place for parts of England and numerous waterways are swollen.
As a Bath drainage company, we were saddened to see one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, Pulteney Weir, submerged as a result of the River Avon’s rising water levels. Meanwhile, areas around Bristol (where we also provide drain cleaning and other services) were flooded when the Avon burst its banks there.
Whether you live in Bath, Bristol or elsewhere, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with the key ways in which stormy weather can affect your property’s drains – and how the drain experts here at Mega-Rod can help you to keep your wastewater flowing.
After all, global warming is set to make intense rainfall an increasingly common occurrence. ‘For every 1°C more that the air warms, it can hold about 7% more water,’ the Met Office explains. The weather forecasting service adds that the UK ‘is expected to experience wetter winters’ because of climate change and drainage systems could well suffer as a result, especially in urban areas with few green spaces available to absorb excess rainfall.
It’s important to be aware of the effects that waterlogged soil can have on your drains. When soil is very wet, it’s much heavier than normal and can therefore exert enormous pressure on underground pipework. This can exacerbate any existing structural problems such as cracks and create new damage.
Rain-soaked soil is also unstable – connections between pipes may be weakened as the earth shifts, so your drains could fall out of alignment with shared lateral drains, say.
If your drains leak and rupture, wastewater will pour into already saturated soil.
Heavy rain can wash plant matter such as leaves, bark and twigs, as well as litter, down your drains through exposed gratings.
This debris can stop wastewater flowing freely away from your property, especially if it sticks to congealed cooking oil or gets tangled up with fibrous wet wipes (two of the main causes of blocked drains).
Excess Rainwater Overwhelms Drains
Of course, it’s not just debris that property owners with exposed gratings should be concerned about during heavy rain. If rainwater floods pipes that are only designed to carry wastewater, it can overwhelm the drainage system.
If your drainage system – or entire property – is flooded, you’re likely to experience frequent backups (one of the most unpleasant signs of blocked drains). In other words, water will travel back up drains and other pipes and pool in toilets, sinks, etc. as it has nowhere else to go.
If temperatures then plummet, the water in your pipework may freeze and therefore expand. Frozen pipework is one of the worst winter drainage problems; the pipes can burst under the pressure the ice exerts on them.
Heavy rain can also spell trouble if your property has a septic tank instead of being connected to the sewer network.
If rain soaks the earth, it may penetrate the septic tank through any cracks. If the soggy, unstable soil moves, the tank could be dislodged from its correct position, which in turn may prompt pipework to come adrift.
Plus, your drainage field may be too saturated with rainwater to process wastewater adequately.
If heavy rain leads to a drain emergency at your property (for example, if you suspect a pipe has ruptured or water is backing up throughout the building), you’ll be relieved to hear we offer a 24/7 drain emergency callout service – simply call us on 01225 422980.
In addition, we encourage property owners to book regular drain inspections and drain maintenance to defend their drainage system against heavy rain-related problems and other issues. Our comprehensive CCTV drain inspections bring to light problems such as loose joints, cracks or congestion caused by debris so they can be resolved. What’s more, we also have the skills and equipment to provide powerful, reliable drain cleaning and drain unblocking services, enabling you to keep your drainage system working whatever the weather. Many customers rely on our efficient septic tank emptying and cleaning services too.
Is heavy rain playing havoc with your drainage system? Contact Mega-Rod in Bath for prompt, professional assistance.