toilet in bathroom
Calendar 12 February, 2024

Wigs, Wipes & Waste: The Weird Things That Block Our Drains

Discover the crazy items that have been found blocking UK drains and how MuckStopper from Drainfast prevents more conventional blockages on construction sites.

It seems as though Yorkshire is the UK capital of strange drain deposits. While we are sure that this peculiar habit is not unique to the county of flat vowels and flat caps, the BBC has on separate occasions reported blockages caused by wigs in Bradford, boots and tyres in Hull and construction tools and cutlery in Goole.

Venture further afield, and we discover a fully-grown cow (by now dead) in a Gateshead storm tank, a gold statue of a monkey in Northumbria (appropriately holding its nose)

Up in Scotland, we find soft toys (and yes, it was Winnie the Pooh!), a bike, a fax machine, jeans and a snake.

If we travel further south to Essex it’s Rolex watches, while in the Thames Valley someone dumped half a car (please no puns about dipping the headlights).

Less unusual but more common blockages

Of course, such bizarre findings aren’t that common. Sewers are more usually blocked by people discarding items that wile they may be disposable, are unsuitable for the sewers – nappies, sanitary towels, paper hand towels and wet wipes. Even ‘flushable’ wet wipes are unsuitable for toilets, as although they do break down in water, the time this takes is longer than the time the wipes are in the sewer and therefore they cause blockages.

If oils and fats are poured down drains they solidify when cooled and in contact with water, creating the infamous fatbergs of newspaper headlines.

Reducing the risk of blocked drains

The safest way of preventing blockages is to stick to the ‘3P’ flushing rule – poo, pee and (toilet) paper, but blockages can still occur even then. If this is the case, pay for a professional to literally look into what may be causing them; this can include:

  • badly-constructed drainage that doesn’t allow effluent to flow freely at every stage of the system
  • partial or full collapse of the system caused by tree roots, soil erosion or ground movement
  • fine tree roots penetrating gaps in the pipework (silver birch roots are particularly bad for this)
  • unsuitable items being flushed into a connecting drain from another property

Preventing blockages on the construction site

Construction sites are also potentially a prime source of blockages. This is because silt, aggregates and building debris are easily washed in large quantities into manholes, inspection chambers and road gullies.

The most efficient way to stop them is to either prevent silt and debris from entering the drainage system or arresting it as soon as it enters the system.

Various products have been designed to temporarily cap off chambers during construction, and we have reviewed some of these in an earlier article. However, any product that sits on top of the chamber is at risk of becoming dislodged by heavy construction equipment and vehicles, and as many of them also act as a seal to water, flooding can occur.

The MuckStopper range from Drainfast has been developed to guarantee silt and debris is captured as it enters the manhole, inspection chamber or road gully chamber, but allows water to pass through into the pipework.

Designed to fit under the road gully grille, manhole or inspection chamber cover, MuckStopper remains intact and continues to work even if the cover or grille is damaged or removed.

MuckStopper is also easily removed for emptying and cleaning without the dangers of personnel having to enter confined spaces and when construction is complete, can be redeployed to another location.

We hope you have found this information helpful and interesting. If you have any further questions you are always welcome to call our friendly team of experts on 01420 555600 or email [email protected]

Also, look out for more articles in our ongoing series of blog posts, bringing you useful information, insights, guides and tips on all things drainage!

Mark Chambers Drainfast Team Portrait

Written by
Mark Chambers

Marketing Manager

As Marketing Manager, Mark plays an active role in running strategic projects to increase our brand profile.

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