Drains

Old Jan 15th 2020, 6:51 pm
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Default Drains

Hi All,
Has anyone had experience with having drains unblocked beyond the boundary of their property and having to fight off an attempt to blame and then charge them. I ask because we spoke to someone whose house is next to, and their basement lower than, the canal de midi and she was flooded in 2018. Suez tried to say it was their fault and wanted to charge a fortune to pump out the basement until she pointed to the beer bottles floating in there, suggesting the water came from outside Suez did relent in the end, but it's not a battle I want to take on if possible. Certainly not forewarned.
Our situation is that all our grey and black water go into one downpipe, into a drain in our courtyard and then runs away from the back of our house, alongside a few other properties. We have just noticed in the last week that when we empty the bath, water appears inside near our back door. Our ground floor is about a foot lower than the outside at the back. We emptied the bath and removing a leaf trap by the downpipe I watched the water inside the small sump slowly rise until it was level with the courtyard tiles. At that point water trickled in via a small gap in the tiled skirting. Not as horrible as it sounds as it's filtered through the rock/concrete and only from the top of the water level. About half a cupfull. The toilet simply doesn't use nearly enough water to even notice a rise in the level.
I also noticed the storm drain against the back wall of our courtyard overflowed so clearly the partial blockage is somewhere past our boundary. I'll have a better look in the daylight and try forcing water down with my garden hose shoved as far down as I can reach. I have some experience with UK drains, but assuming the drains are the age of the properties around here, around mid 19thC or earlier, I'm guessing understanding them is a bit of a black art if you'll excuse the pun.
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Old Jan 15th 2020, 7:14 pm
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Default Re: Drains

Do you have any trees "in the area" - which cold be as far as 20m away from the drain, depending on the tree species. Invasive tree roots in a drain can cause almost perpetual problems if the roots have invaded the drain. Invasive roots can be removed mechanically, but will soon return if the root system is still alive, and the roots can survive a year or more even the tree above ground is removed.

If you have a drain problem caused by trees, and are unable to remove the trees, e.g if you don't own the trees, then replacing the drain pipe with a new pipe that is entirely sealed and not susceptible to invasion by roots, such as a plastic pipe, may be the only long term solution.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jan 15th 2020 at 7:47 pm.
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Old Jan 15th 2020, 7:32 pm
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Default Re: Drains

I had exactly that problem many years ago in London with a giant Hawthorn collapsing a victorian drain. There's a palm tree about 20m from the house roughly in line with where I guess the drain runs, though technically its a grass and the roots are not as invasive as tree roots. Besides it's in my neighbour's garden. As I say, the problem is not on my property and I have no idea if the properties behind me run into the drain as well.
I'm assuming whatever the problem is, since it's not on my property, it's not mine. That's really the issue I need some advice on.
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Old Jan 16th 2020, 8:27 am
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Default Re: Drains

It would be worth knowing exactly where "your" pipe ends and where the water/sewer company's pipe starts, which may not be at your boundary. Our sewer system has a man hole out in the road about 30m from our front gate and everything upstream of that is our responsibility. The Mairie or water/sewer company (which in many communes is part of the Mairie or part of the communité des communes) could advise you and would also be the port of call to get the blockage sorted out. Would also be worth asking your neighbours if they have a similar problem, and if it has happened before you moved in - there may be a routine process they have used before and know who to call.
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Old Jan 16th 2020, 9:42 am
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Default Re: Drains

Thanks for the reply. In fact I have spent an unpleasant morning checking things and am pretty sure the blockage is in my courtyard between a rainwater drain and an old outside toilet pipe. The toilet pipe runs free to the front of the house, but the downpipe from the bathroom is backing up in the rainwater drain to one side instead of going straight to the old toilet on the other. Probably too much information. I'll try unblocking it myself with stuff from the brico and then call someone out if/when I fail.
Happy days.
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Old Jan 16th 2020, 2:21 pm
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Default Re: Drains

just fyi - we had an insurance policy that covered the drains/water supply pipes from where the water company's boundary was to the house. It was very cheap IIRC ~50 euros a year and I believe it was promoted via the water supplier.
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Old Jan 16th 2020, 2:22 pm
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Default Re: Drains

I've never personally had much luck with chucking in products to unblock drains. The best I have found is an attachment for the Karcher pressure washer which is a flexible pipe with backwards facing jets which self propel itself and washes out solids. Best to start from the downstream end otherwise the excess water doesn't flow away very well. I'm assuming you already have a pressure washer though!
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Old Jan 16th 2020, 2:31 pm
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Default Re: Drains

Originally Posted by petitefrancaise View Post
...t was very cheap IIRC ~50 euros a year and I believe it was promoted via the water supplier.
I am sure it was! Imagine thousands and thousands of €50/yr paid by home owners when the chances of those people having a blocked drain is minescule. ... Same as the "gas line" insurance in the US (covers damage to the natural gas pipe, which is buried at least 45 cm (18") below ground), from the edge of your property into your home it's an utter racket.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jan 16th 2020 at 2:45 pm.
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Old Jan 16th 2020, 2:34 pm
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Default Re: Drains

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
I am sure it was! Imagine thousands and thousands of €50/yr paid by home owners when the chances of those people having a blocked drain is minescule. ... Same as the "gas line" insurance in the US (covers the natural gas pipe from the edge of your property into your home), it's an utter racket.
perhaps - but considering the potential cost of having to fork out for repairs, on an individual basis, it was definitely worth it. Not having to waste time phoning round to try and get a plumber would be worth it tbh. What's the callout fee again????
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Old Jan 16th 2020, 6:37 pm
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Default Re: Drains

I spent an unlovely morning and 150 odd euro worth of 5L of acid, a flexible drain clearing spring, a new pressure washer and a pair of rubber gloves all to no avail. For the life of me I couldn't work out the run of the underground pipes. I called someone recommended, he turned up with his local knowledge and within a couple of minutes and a stick it was running free. He cleaned it all out, showed me the 2 drains in front of my house (that was part of what threw me), we test flushed the loo and he went away with 145 euro for about 10 minutes work. I'm not complaining, it could have been a lot worse.
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Old Jan 16th 2020, 6:45 pm
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Default Re: Drains

Originally Posted by Alianco View Post
I spent an unlovely morning and 150 odd euro worth of 5L of acid, a flexible drain clearing spring, a new pressure washer and a pair of rubber gloves all to no avail. For the life of me I couldn't work out the run of the underground pipes. I called someone recommended, he turned up with his local knowledge and within a couple of minutes and a stick it was running free. He cleaned it all out, showed me the 2 drains in front of my house (that was part of what threw me), we test flushed the loo and he went away with 145 euro for about 10 minutes work. I'm not complaining, it could have been a lot worse.
Congratulations, that sounds like a good result - cleared drains and some training, for €145.
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Old Jan 16th 2020, 7:43 pm
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Default Re: Drains

Originally Posted by Alianco View Post
Thanks for the reply. In fact I have spent an unpleasant morning checking things and am pretty sure the blockage is in my courtyard between a rainwater drain and an old outside toilet pipe. ....
Happy days.
I hope you did all that without getting your poorly binger contaminated by, well, whatever might have been in the old toilet pipe
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 6:09 am
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Default Re: Drains

I was extremely careful, but thanks for thinking of it.
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