Water and drainage

Blocked drains

It's really important to keep the drains in and around your home clear so that water can flow freely. A blocked drain can be an unpleasant thing to deal with, so prevention is better than cure. Here are some tips to help you protect your home:

  • Don't pour grease or fat away in your sink - it can stick to the inside of pipes, building up over time and causing a blockage
  • Clear hair from bathroom sinks and plugholes
  • Don't flush anything but paper down your toilet - sanitary products and nappies should go in the bin
  • Sweep up falling leaves as soon as possible, so that they don't end up blocking a drain
  • Keep an eye on trees - are their roots growing too close to a drain? You might need to take action if so, as tree roots could crack a pipe

Saving water

If you're on a water meter, it pays to reduce how much water you use. And even if you're not, saving water helps the environment, because less water has to go through the treatment process (which involves lots of chemicals). 

There are some easy changes you can make to how much water you use. Having a five-minute shower instead of a bath, for example, will mean you use 35 litres of water instead of 80. Here are some easy tips: 

  • When cleaning your teeth, don’t leave the tap running
  • Dripping taps are water running down the drain; get them fixed
  • Only wash full loads in the washing machine
  • Put a water displacement device (sometimes called a 'hippo') in the cistern of a higher flush toilet - you will reduce the amount of water used for each flush, typically by one or two litres. Most water companies provide free displacement devices for their customers
  • To see how much water you could save, please visit the Energy Saving Trust website.

Legionnaires disease

Legionnaires disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, which can affect anybody. It is caused by certain types of legionella bacteria, which can lurk in contaminated water.

For some people, especially those with underlying medical conditions or weakened immune systems, infection with legionella bacteria can be fatal.

The bacteria spreads in droplets of water, and while the risk of contracting Legionnaires disease in a domestic property is low, it's important to take care. The bacteria multiply in slow-moving or standing water, and so if you've been away for a week or more and not used your taps and toilets, follow our simple advice:

  • Set the thermostat on your hot water to at least 65 degrees celsius - but be careful you don't scald yourself if you don't have mixer taps
  • If you've not used a tap for a week or more, run it for at least two minutes to flush it through - take care to avoid splashing
  • If you've not used your shower for a week or more, that will need flushing through as well, at both maximum and minimum temperatures. To protect yourself from being splashed by water droplets, you could secure a plastic bag with a corner cut off over the shower head to allow water to escape, or place the shower hose over the drain
  • Clean and disinfect shower heads regular to make sure scale and bacteria don't build up
  • Flush any toilets that haven't been used for a week or more - keep the lid closed as you do so. 

Symptoms of Legionnaires disease

Initial symptoms can include a high fever, chills, headaches and muscle pain. Around a third of infected patients also develop diarrhoea or vomiting. Seek medical advice as soon as possible if you have any concerns. Legionnaires disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics.