How to prevent blocked pipes and drains | Wastewater Issues | Irish Water

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Signs of a blocked drain

  • Your toilet is difficult to flush
  • The toilet water bubbles when you run the tap
  • Sinks or baths empty very slowly
  • Your toilet or sink is overflowing or flooding
  • There are gurgling sounds when you drain water
  • There is a smell around your sinks, shower, bathtub, or toilet

Who is responsible for clearing blockages

Responsibility for clearing a blockage depends on its location and whether you are connected to the public wastewater system. Irish Water is not responsible for septic tank blockages.

If you know the location of a blockage you can use our pipe maintenance responsibility guide to help see who is responsible for clearing it.

Property owner or householder

If the blockage is in your internal plumbing or inside private property boundaries then it is your responsibility. There are a number of things you can do to try and remove the blockage.

  • Sink blockages: try using a drain snake to push, break up, or remove the blockage

  • Straight pipe sections: try using drain rods to remove the blockage. Although this will depend on the nature and location – if it is on public or private land. Drain rods can be bought or hired or provided as a service by a drain cleaning company.

  • Blockages downstream of the property: then all properties contributing to the flow are responsible for the blockage. In this instance, any neighbours should be contacted to determine the location of the blockage by lifting any access chambers or manholes on the drain. Then rodding of the drain may release the blockage.

  • Not sure? Seek professional help from a drain cleaning company

Contact Irish Water if a blockage still persists after investigation of the private drains. This is because the blockage may be in the public sewer, giving rise to back up in the private drains.

When to contact Irish Water

If you suspect the blockage is on the public wastewater side and you are not connected to a septic tank then please contact Irish Water.

If the blockage is on the public side we will have it cleared as a matter of urgency. This is generally within 24 hours.

Customers are responsible for the clearing of any blockages of the wastewater Service Connections up to the Irish Water sewer, as explained in the Irish Water pipe maintenance responsibility guide. Should a Customer (or a Customer’s drain-clearing contractor) be unable to clear a blockage and suspects that there may be a structural failure on the connection pipework located in a public area that is resulting in the pipe flow being restricted to such an extent that flow is backing up/flooding, the Customer should then contact Irish Water to discuss.

Irish Water may request that the Customer obtains a CCTV survey in order to assess the condition of the pipe and to provide evidence of the structural failure. Customers need to ensure they follow the Irish Water Guidance Document: Requirements for Customer Wastewater Service Connection CCTV Surveys.

A competent CCTV Contractor will be familiar with the work described in this Guidance Document and will advise the Customer accordingly. Customers need ot be aware that the cost associated with such a CCTV survey is at the Customer’s expense. The resulting CCTV Report should then be submitted to Irish Water for consideration. Irish Water may undertake the necessary structural repair, subject to funding availability.

My neighbours won’t share the cost of having the issue resolved, what do I do?

A property owner can bring another to court under Water Services legislation, if the private drain can be shown to be a communal one, and the drain causing a nuisance cannot be addressed without access to the drain on the others property, which is being denied, or there is a failure to undertake necessary works to abate the nuisance.

Who is responsible for wastewater issues?

  • Irish Water has sole responsibility for the cleaning and maintenance of the public sewer network
  • Householders / property owners are responsible for their internal plumbing and the private side pipework leading up to the sewer mains
  • If you are connected to a septic tank or a private waste water system we cannot assist you
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