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Selling a House With a Drainage Problem

Property Saviour » Buying » Selling a House With a Drainage Problem

As a senior property buyer at Property Saviour, I have encountered numerous homeowners struggling to sell their properties due to drainage issues.

These problems can be a significant obstacle, causing sellers stress and financial loss. In this guide, we will cover drainage problems, exploring the common issues, their impact on property value, and how to successfully complete the selling process.

Table of Contents

Selling a house with a drainage problem

Every building, whether old or new, needs a functional drainage system. It’s something we take for granted – you flush the toilet, and the water disappears. It’s a given until the day it stops working.

A broken pipe can cause various problems that will not resolve themselves. Instead, the situation will worsen over time and may lead to structural damage to the property. 

Therefore, it is important to address any drainage issues quickly and ensure that the system is in good working order.

If you’re not regularly looking after your property, one of the most damaging issues is drainage. If left unchecked, drainage problems can lead to expensive repair jobs and even devalue your home.

So what causes drainage problems?

The Impact of Drainage Problems on Property Value

Drainage issues can significantly reduce a property’s value. According to experts, a property with drainage problems can lose up to 10% of its value. This is because buyers are often deterred by the prospect of costly repairs and the potential for future problems.

What are the most common drainage problems?

Drainage issues can manifest in various forms, each with its unique set of challenges. Some of the most common problems include:

  1. Blocked Drains: Hair, grease, and food waste can clog drains, causing water to back up into the property. This can lead to unpleasant odours, water damage, and even health hazards.
  2. Septic Tank Issues: Properties with septic tanks can face challenges when selling, as these systems require regular maintenance and can be costly to replace.
  3. Drainage System Failures: Collapsed or damaged drainage pipes can cause significant damage to the property and surrounding land, making it difficult to sell


These are some other drainage problems:

Root cause

What can I do?


When debris clogs the wastewater pipe, it forms a solid barrier that obstructs the water flow. This is one of the leading reasons for plumbing problems in homes.

You can try a combination of these:

  • Give it a good plunge;
  • Mix salt with bicarbonate soda and put some hot water down the drain;
  • Use a metal wire hanger to push down the blockage.

If all of the above doesn’t tackle the issue, then you will need to pay a plumber or a drainage specialist.

Overgrowing tree roots

When tree roots aggressively search for nutrients, they can penetrate waste pipes through their joints, leading to a clogged drain.

Hire a specialist to extract the root system from the pipes. This is achieved through drain jetting, a process that utilises a high-pressure stream of water to dislodge and eliminate the obstruction from the drain.

Cracked pipe

As drainage pipes age, they become more susceptible to cracking. This leads to wastewater leaking into the ground, which can go unnoticed for a long time before the problem becomes apparent.

Seek expert assistance. Professionals will conduct a CCTV drainage survey to pinpoint the source of the leak. After that, they will determine whether to replace the pipework or if installing a lining will fix the wastewater pipe.

Opened joints

Heavy traffic and ground movement can lead to the opening of drainage pipes, resulting in leaks.

Contact a drainage expert. Fortunately, digging up the ground to solve the issue is not always required.

Thanks to modern technology, it’s possible to identify the problem without excavation. A unique lining can be inserted into the connected drains, resolving the drainage issue.

Exposure to the elements

The drains outside are fully exposed to the elements, which can result in various drainage issues.

This exposure leaves them vulnerable to clogging and other problems caused by weather conditions such as a storm.

It is important to address these drainage issues promptly to prevent potential water damage.

Twigs and leaves

When twigs and leaves accumulate in your outdoor drains, it can lead to clogs and issues over time.

This natural occurrence from the weather can cause damp problems that worsen as debris builds up.

Regular maintenance is important to prevent these drainage issues.

Drainage issues on your property can complicate the process of selling your home. However, it’s still possible to secure a competitive and swift offer from us:

Sell with certainty & speed

How do you unblock a house drain?

To clear a clogged drain, mix vinegar with baking soda until it fizzes, then pour it down the drain. Let it sit for at least an hour, or overnight for stubborn blockages, before flushing with hot water.

Did you know?

The term “plumbing” is derived from the Latin word “plumbum,” which means lead. Lead is represented by the symbol Pb. The earliest pipes used by the Romans were constructed from lead.


I recall a recent case where a seller approached us with a property that had a collapsed drainage system. The seller struggled to find a buyer because the property now suffered subsidence. We worked closely with the seller to understand their situation and offered a fair price for the property. We then took care of the necessary repairs, ensuring the property was sold quickly and efficiently.

Selling a house with a drainage problem
You can also conduct a CCTV drainage survey to identify leaks or blockages. It will also identify any essential repairs.

How do I find out where the drains are on my property?

Drains are buried underground and often water authority records may not be 100% accurate.  However, a drainage search is a good place to start as it should show the extent of drains.

You can also conduct a CCTV drainage survey to identify leaks or blockages. It will also identify any essential repairs.

Do house deeds show drainage?

House deeds do not show drainage. You will need to order a drainage map from local water authority for fee.  Check the paperwork you received from solicitors when you bought the property.

Alternatively, you may wish to order a drainage search. 

Start by identifying the drain cover, which will be required for a CCTV drainage survey.  This will give you a better understanding of full drainage system on your property such as how far the pipes travel and how they connect to public sewage system.

Water draining from your sink, bath, or washing machine is known as foul water. This water flows from your wastewater pipes, down the main drain, and eventually reaches a local sewage treatment facility for processing.

Can you build over a manhole?

No, it’s not possible to build over a manhole cover as it likely provides access to a public sewer system shared by multiple properties. Construction near a manhole is strictly regulated due to the potential risk of damage.

That’s why building over a manhole cover is not allowed.If your construction project is within three meters of a public sewer, you must obtain the consent of the local water authority. They may require you to sign a ‘build over agreement’ to ensure you adhere to their regulations. 

The building control department of your local authority should be consulted before commencing any work.  The best thing to do is change your plans and build at least three meters away from the sewer or manhole cover.

If that is not possible, you could request the local water authority to relocate the manhole cover and reroute the sewer. Bear in mind this would be at your cost and could be quite expensive.

How do I find out where the drains are on my property
If you're not regularly looking after your property, one of the most damaging issues is drainage.

Who is responsible for property drainage?

Land Drainage Act 1991 states that as the homeowner, you are responsible for all waste drainage pipes (such as gullies, gutters, and drains) within your property boundary, as long as they serve only your property.

The water company oversees maintaining, and repairing public sewers located under roads and footpaths. They also take responsibility for any shared sewers with your neighbours, regardless of whether they run beneath your garden or driveway.

Who pays for drain repairs?

If you own a property with a private or unadopted sewer, you’re on the hook for its maintenance and repair costs. When a sewer serves multiple properties, the owners must share these expenses.

This often applies to properties like a block of apartments or caravan parks, where you might deal with a private sewer or a lateral drain.

Should your local authority’s environmental health department notice that a private sewer or lateral drain is not being properly taken care of, they can demand repairs or unclogging.

Failing to comply with their deadline can lead to the local authority stepping in to fix the issue, sending the bill directly to you.

Can a Neighbour drain water onto my land?

Yes, neighbours can allow water to flow naturally onto your land. This is known as the right to natural drainage.

It means that water can flow downhill across the surface of the land without obstruction. However, it is important not to redirect the flow of water in a way that could damage your neighbour’s property.

Can a Neighbour drain water onto my land
Drainage law in the UK states that homeowner is responsible to keep their drains clean, and guttering in good condition within boundary of their property.

What is the drainage law in the UK?

Drainage law in the UK states that homeowner is responsible to keep their drains clean, and guttering in good condition within boundary of their property.

Can you claim blocked drains on house insurance?

It depends on your home insurance policy as to whether they will cover blocked drains.  If the property drains are deemed to be in a poor state of repair or routine maintenance tasks have been neglected, they may do the work and charge you for it.

Does my house have mains drainage?

Your house will have mains drainage if you can locate a drain cover.  This will take all the wastewater from your home to the nearest public drainage system.

In rural areas, your property is likely to have a septic tank where you are responsible for emptying it.

Does my house have mains drainage
Foul drainage is the pipework that carries wastewater from a bathroom, utility room, or kitchen.

What is foul drainage?

Foul drainage is the pipework that carries wastewater from a bathroom, utility room, or kitchen.  This foul water will be transferred to a local sewage treatment plant via local water authority’s drainage system.

What to do if neighbours drain is blocked?

If you live in a semi-detached or terraced property and discover that blockage is due to your neighbour’s drain, then it is worth chatting with them to see if they will clear it. Alternatively, you will have to approach local authority to see if they can step in.

In our experience, it is best to remain friendly as disputes with neighbours can result in all sorts of retaliatory actions including in most extremes cases arson attacks.

Who is responsible for drains under the property?

You are responsible for drains under and inside the boundaries of your property.  The water company is responsible for lateral drains outside your property’s boundaries.

Vast majority of sewers are publicly owned there are still quite a few private or unadopted sewers.  If your property is connected to one, you are responsible for its maintenance.

How do I find drainage plans for my house
Early signs of blocked drains enable you to act quickly to minimise damage. 

How do I find drainage plans for my house?

Your local water authority should be able to provide you with a copy of drainage plans for a fee (if they have them).

How old are the drains in my house?

Depending on the age of your house, the drainage system will be made out of different materials:

  • Victorian properties with the original draining system often have pipes made of clay coated in a special salt glaze. These traditional salt-glazed pipes can be advantageous because they maintain their structural integrity even under heavy loads. However, they are prone to cracking over time and are generally more expensive than modern plastic pipes.
  • If your house was built between 1940-1965, there is a possibility that your drainage pipework is made of pitch fibre, a lightweight cellulose material reinforced with tar and asbestos. It was inexpensive and simple to produce but has a short lifespan and is no longer in use. This material has frequently led to collapsed drains.
  • Plastic pipes quickly gained popularity for their ease of handling and manufacturing, leading to a rise in their availability alongside other options like cast iron, copper, and galvanised steel pipes.

How can you tell if your drains are blocked?

Living with blocked drains causes stress and leave you with a potentially expensive bill.  Early signs of blocked drains enable you to act quickly to minimise damage.  Signs with blocked drains include:

Unpleasant smell coming from drain

Blocked drains often emit unpleasant odours, usually caused by food debris stuck in the pipes. As the food decays over time, a strong smell develops, especially noticeable when the tap is running.

Slow drainage

If there’s a blockage in the pipe, the water will drain slowly because it has to filter through or around the blockage, resulting in a sluggish flow.

Raised water levels

The easiest way to detect a toilet blockage is if the water level in your toilet rises higher than normal when flushed. If the water rises to the point of overflowing, there could be a much more serious issue within your drains.

Gurgling sounds

If you hear any strange gurgling sounds coming from drains and plug holes, this could be a sign of a blockage. The gurgling sound indicates that there is trapped air in the drain, and it is escaping when you run water.

Are drain surveys worth it
It's important to address drainage issues promptly, as untreated problems can lead to subsidence and structural damage in your home.

Are drain surveys worth it?

Yes the drainage survey is worth it.  Whether you are buying or selling, it will help identify drainage issues.

A CCTV drainage survey involves inserting a small camera into your pipe to scan for drainage problems. These problems include fractured pipes, blockages, cracks, and flow issues.

It’s important to address drainage issues promptly, as untreated problems can lead to subsidence and structural damage in your home. If any concerning issues are found during the survey, you will receive a detailed report to help you decide on the next steps.

How much does a CCTV drain survey cost?

According to Check a Trade website, drain camera survey work costs around £90 on average.

Local drain experts offer two types of surveys: a basic CCTV drain survey priced from £85 to £235 and a full CCTV drain survey with a report costing between £200 and £350.

Cost provided item

Range - Low

Range - High

Average UK Cost

Average CCTV drain survey


Basic CCTV drain survey




Full CCTV drain survey with report




CCTV drain survey - large property




Ground Excavation




During a drain survey, engineers may address minor blockages as part of the service. The cost of a CCTV drain survey can vary based on factors like property size, drainage system complexity, blockage quantity and type, survey type, and location.

How to prevent drain blockages?

If you want to stop your drains from clogging, here are some best ways to prevent blockages:

  • Avoid flushing non-biodegradable products down the drain. Some wipes labelled ‘flushable’ should also be avoided as they degrade slowly. 
  • Dispose of fats, oil, and grease properly. Consider seeking advice from your local water authority. 
  • Place plug screens over plugholes to prevent food and debris from entering drains. 

Use drain-unblocking products regularly to prevent small blockages from becoming larger issues.

Should I sell a house with drainage problems
We buy any house in any condition, including those with drainage problems. Your issue is not a problem for us.

Should I sell a house with drainage problems?

If you’re looking to sell a house with known drainage issues, it may take a while. However, selling to a professional property buyer like us at Property Saviour can be a quick solution.

We buy any house in any condition, including those with drainage problems. Your issue is not a problem for us.

Sell with certainty & speed

auction hammer

Property Saviour Price Promise

  • The price we’ll offer is the price that you will receive with no hidden deductions.
  • Be careful with ‘cash buyers’ who require a valuation needed for a mortgage or bridging loan.
  • These valuations or surveys result in delays and price reductions later on.
  • We are cash buyers.  There are no surveys.
  • We always provide proof of funds with every formal offer issued.

We'll Pay £1,500 Towards Your Legal Fees

  • No long exclusivity agreement to sign because we are the buyers.
  • You are welcome to use your own solicitor. 
  • If you don’t have one, we can ask our solicitors for recommendations.
  • We share our solicitor’s details and issue a Memorandum of Sale. 

Sell With Certainty & Speed

  • Our approach is transparent and ethical, which is why sellers trust us.
  • 100% Discretion guaranteed. 
  • If you have another buyer, you can put us in a contracts race to see who completes first.
  • Complete in 10 days or at a timescale that works for you.  You are in control.
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