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Existing Drainage Problems


For an existing problem relating to any or all of the following:

  • Property drainage
  • Surface water sewerage
  • Foul Water Drainage systems

AlphaTotas Structural Engineer Bristol would undertake a drainage study which may include capacity checks, calculations connection and diversion approvals, soakaway design. AlphaTotas Structural Engineer Bristol will also carryout test where necessary. However it is important to established your sewer and drainage responsibility.





Often referred to as a 'simple drains test' (SDT). This is often carried out at the same time as a Homebuyer Survey or Building Survey. It simply involves lifting manhole covers and running water through the drain runs from the taps within the property, whilst observing the flows throughout the drainage system. This allows us to check if the drains are running free, or if there are blockages, and will also indicate any severe leakage.


Leaking drains very often go undetected for years or decades, but if close to the building, the ground beneath the foundations can be weakened by the water, resulting in subsidence. It is for this reason that Surveyors may request a drainage report when they have seen cracking or other indications of foundation movement.

In these cases, a water, or hydraulic, test is required. This involves plugging the drain at the lower end, filling it up with water, then waiting to see if it holds the water or if it leaks away. When the plug is removed, the water should flow away rapidly to indicate that the drain is not blocked. There may be several sections of the drainage, each of which will require testing separately.




TV surveys involve passing a small camera through the drains. The operator watches the picture as the camera progresses, so that any features can be closely examined and identified, and a video recording is usually made for later reference.


A CCTV survey will not determine that a drain is watertight, but it will show and locate areas of damage or blockage. A CCTV survey can also be useful in determining the layout of a drainage system and identifying unknown / abandoned branches.


Drains can be tested and surveyed quite easily if there are adequate inspection chambers, and if they are not blocked. However, especially with older properties, there may be few or no inspection chambers. In these cases, the only way to test and survey the drains is to dig holes and break into the pipes - this gets expensive!


AlphaTotas Structural Engineer Bristol  often find drains are blocked, or are backing up from overfull cess pits or septic tanks. In these circumstances, there is little which can be done until the system has been unblocked, cleared or emptied - again an expensive operation.


A drainage report would normally include a plan showing the layout of the drains, along with details of pipe diameters, depths below ground, results of water tests, and findings of CCTV surveys.


AlphaTotas Structural Engineer Bristol engineers will provide, an estimate for the cost to visit a property, inspect the drains and where relevant produce a report. In each case the price assumes that there is adequate access to the drains (usually via manhole covers). Should excavation be required to gain access, we will usually have an additional price for this.

Some reports will identify the need for maintenance or repair work. In each case an indication of possible cost will usually be noted in the report.


Public sewers and drains


Drains take foul sewage (waste from toilets, bathrooms and kitchens) and surface water (rain water) away from your property. Sewers are the pipes that take sewage and surface water away from more than one property.


Sewers are either publicly or privately maintained. If they are publicly maintained, the local water and sewerage company is responsible for repairs and maintenance.


Private sewers and drains


A private sewer is the joint responsibility of the properties that drain into it. This responsibility continues up to the point where the private sewer (including the connection) joins a public sewer. This means that often, people are responsible for the repair and maintenance of drainage pipes that are beneath land owned by somebody else, such as a neighbour.


Responsibility for private sewer defects and blockages lies with the owners/occupiers of properties draining into the sewer upstream of any defect or blockage. Your local council may be able to help you find out which sewers are privately owned.


If you are partially or solely responsible for maintaining drains and sewers you may be covered by your housing insurance for any damage.


If your drain becomes blocked you usually know because your waste stops going away when you flush the toilet; man-holes and gullies may also start to overflow. If there is a nuisance smell or blockage contact your local authority’s environmental health department which has powers to investigate the matter, carry out repairs and recover costs from the home owner.



AlphaTotas Structural Engineer Bristol will Design your drainage to meet your requirement

Drainage Design and Report


AlphaTotas Structural Engineer Bristol is committed to ensuring that the right system is designed, detailed, delivered and installed. AlphaTotas Structural Engineer Bristol do not underestimate the importance of the design of a individual project requirements to give total peace of mind.


AlphaTotas Structural Engineer Bristol offer design support from conception to completion with experienced personnel and proven procedures. AlphaTotas Structural Engineer Bristol engineers will Work to ensure the client’s expectation are met, and available to support and offer you technical advice on site or in your office.


Drainage Design - the regulations and requirements in relation to surface water drainage have changed and are still changing beyond all recognition due to new legislation.


AlphaTotas Structural Engineer Bristol are able to provide a design service utilising 'Microdrainage', the industry standard software, to ensure the implementation of Sustainable Drainage (SUDs) meets legislation.


AlphaTotas Structural Engineer Bristol will develop the most cost effective solutions, balancing storage and discharge of the surface water within the constraints of the Environment Agency.


This may include techniques such as green roofs and rainwater harvesting. AlphaTotas Structural Engineer Bristol would produce detailed engineering design drawings and specifications for the development infrastructure, including highway, surface water (storm) and foul water drainage.


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AlphaTotas - Structural Engineer Bristol, 10 Ipswich Drive, St. Aness Bristol.  BS4 4BW.  Structural Engineer Bristol Building Design Services covering Bristol, Avon, Bath & North East Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Mendip area.