Consumer Council for Water
Blog: Are you well connected?
Today (19 September) is National Drainage Misconnection Day, which aims to raise awareness of the big impact that plumbing and drainage misconnections can have on our rivers, beaches and the wider environment. But what exactly is a misconnection? Why does it happen? Could your property be at risk? Let’s take a look.
What is a misconnection?
Most houses will have two sewers: the foul sewer, which takes away dirty water from toilets, bathrooms and kitchens to sewage works for treatment, and the surface water sewer, which takes away rainwater from roofs to local rivers, streams or beaches.
When wastewater from your home drains into surface water sewers (usually because of incorrect plumbing), this is known as a misconnection, and – according to latest figures from DEFRA – up to 500,000 homes in the UK could be currently affected. Wastewater can come from several places in your home, including washing machines, sinks and toilets.
Could your property be at risk of misconnection?
If your property has been extended or part of it converted into a utility room with appliances such as a washing machine or dishwasher, it’s a good idea to check they are properly connected to ensure wastewater is not going into clean water drains.
Do it yourself
Many people enjoy a bit of DIY and for the more experienced DIY-ers the prospect of installing a downstairs toilet or upgrading the bathroom can be a fairly simple process, which often does not need planning permission. However, as the popularity for DIY has grown over recent years, incidents of misconnection have become more common.
Please be extra careful when considering renovation works involving the relocation of kitchens and bathrooms, or when installing new white appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.
Don’t guess if you’re connecting to the right pipework; ensure you check with your water company first or employ a reputable plumber. If you’re worried about any work that may previously have been carried out at your property, get in touch with your water company and ask if your property has a combined or separate drainage and sewer system. A professional plumber will also be able to give you advice. Check out WaterSafe for tradespeople in your area.
For more information and advice around misconnections, visit Connect Right or follow the hashtag #NationalDrainageMisconnectionDay
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