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A Blocked Drain and No Access: a Metro Rod Mystery!

21st November 2018

A Blocked Drain and No Access: a Metro Rod Mystery!

We recently attended a job, which seemed on paper like a straightforward blockage, but if you are sitting comfortably we shall begin our tale of what was a much more tricky situation after all!


The call came in from a landlady who needed her tenants property drain unblocking and we were more than happy to oblige. We sent one of our Service Engineers to tackle the blocked drain.

He began his investigating by lifting the manhole at the back of the property to find that it was full to the brim. Due to the location of the manhole, he decided to begin with rods in the hopes that the blockage would respond to being poked and could be broken up this way, but this proved ineffective. Therefore he headed to his van and brought out the High Pressure Water Jetting hose, which he had to drag around to the back of the house. The drain line ran from this manhole under the ground beneath the house and out towards the main sewer line in the road. Although the manhole was full up, it was clear that the actually blockage was much closer to the main sewer line, though crucially still within the curtilage of the property boundary, otherwise we would have had to pass over the job to Thames Water, the water company responsible in that area. So our service engineer persisted.

He hit a set back as he realised that the blockage could not be effectively reached by his hose, given that he had had to pull it to the back of the house to send back up the drain pipes towards the road where his van was parked, essentially halving the length of hose he had to use. Usually there would be more than one access point to the drains, so he started to search for this. He noted that the houses either side of the one he was working in both had manholes at the front of their property, which could have meant that this house did, too, however the front was laid with slabs. One of the slabs had become wet around the edges after his jetting and so he wondered if perhaps a manhole lurked underneath. After speaking with the landlady, who was adamant there she had lain these slabs and that there was no manhole underneath, he was permitted to double check.

Once the slab was carefully lifted it was clear to see that the ground was saturated with water, adding credence to the theory that the elusive access was indeed to be found here, so he started some digging. What he found was that both he and the landlady were correct: there was no manhole, but there was a rodding access point hidden under the dirt, which is why the landlady had no idea it was there. In his own words: "Further jetting was required from this access point downstream to clear the blockage". After revealing the rodding point our engineer was able to send his jetting hose down this hole and this was the final piece to the puzzle, breaking up the blockage and emptying the full manhole. What was the culprit, you may wonder? Sanitary products and wet wipes! 

The final step was to clear the area and replace the slab, though in future that access point is now known and can be accessed again by lifting the slab. The area was washed down and disinfected.

Case closed!

Case Study


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