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What happens when water goes down the drain?

What happens when water goes down the drain?

Water is something we often take for granted. We turn on our taps and it’s there, as always, ready to fill kettles, cups and sinks. We wash and bathe in clean water every day – something we should definitely be thankful for – but how does this supply of water arrive into our homes?

The water life cycle is a fascinating process and one that we’d like to highlight in this article, so read on to discover more about the journey water takes both to and from your home.

What happens when water goes down the drain?

Let’s start in your house. When you send water down your drain, whether it’s the kitchen sink, your bathtub or toilet, it’s got to go somewhere. Eventually, all water you use in your home goes back into rivers and the sea – so the water cycle can begin again – but let’s look at the multiple stages it has to go through before that:

  • Pipes and sewers: The wastewater you send down the drain travels through the pipe network in your home. Your home drainage network eventually joins up with a communal sewer pipe located under the road. This is where your wastewater and all the wastewater from neighbouring properties join. The main sewer takes the wastewater to a sewage treatment plant.
  • Wastewater treatment: When your wastewater reaches the treatment plant, it needs to be screened. This means removing items and objects that shouldn’t have been flushed down the drain at all, such as baby wipes, nappies, sanitary items, toys, clothes – you’d be surprised at the amount of random stuff that finds its way into the UK’s sewers! With all of these removed, wastewater moves to the next stage.
  • Preliminary treatment: Treatment occurs in multiple stages. The first stage focuses on removing solids from the water. When the water reaches a sewage treatment tank, it is left to settle, so that solids sink to the bottom. The solids are anchored to the centre of the tank by large rotating arms, then the separated water is sent to stage two of treatment.
  • Treatment stage two: While large solids have been removed, smaller, invisible fragments might still be contaminating the water. To remove these, the wastewater needs biological treatment. In this stage, billions of bacteria are introduced to the water. These bacteria eat away at the solid waste particles, rendering them harmless.
  • Treatment stage three: The final treatment stage is an important quality control phase, ensuring all leftover contaminants are fully removed to leave behind completely clean water. The water finds its way to a final settlement tank where the bacteria from the previous stage is left to settle at the bottom of the tank. Now, the water is clean and can channelled from the tank, ready to be sent away.


Back to the river

Once thoroughly treated, the water is sent back to rivers and the sea. At this point, the water can begin its journey to your home again. This happens through the following stages:

  • Evaporation into rainfall: Water will evaporate and eventually return to the ground as rainfall. This rainfall is collected in rivers, the sea and underground in aquifers. This water is collected and pumped to water treatment plants so it can be cleaned and made into safe drinking water.
  • Water treatment: The collected rainwater goes through a thorough treatment process before it can be pumped to your home. This begins with screening to remove things like branches or leaves. Next, smaller particles are removed through a filtering process. The final treatment process involves adding a minuscule amount of chlorine to kill off any remaining bacteria.
  • Pumped to your home: Once the cleaned water is ready to go, it is pumped through a network of pipes until it reaches your home, where you can use it for all your daily needs. When you send it back down the drain, it becomes wastewater and the sewage treatment process begins once more.

The water cycle is an amazing thing; it’s incredible to think that all this is going on in the background to ensure you have regular access to healthy drinking water. Of course, one important part of the journey is the extensive network of pipes, drains and sewers which channel all this water to and from your home.

These drains and pipes require care and maintenance so your access to water is never interrupted, and whenever there is an issue with your drains, you need nothing more than a rapid response from a reputable drainage company.

Express Clear provides a wide range of drainage repair services. From regular maintenance and cleaning to reactive repair and replacement including emergency call outs to repair severe leaks or collapses we ensure a proactive and effective service from start to finish. If your drains are clogged or you’re having recurring issues with your drains, contact our friendly team today to discuss your problem with us were always happy to help.


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