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What is the Difference Between Drains, Lateral Drains and Sewers?

What is the Difference Between Drains, Lateral Drains and Sewers?

When it comes to drainage issues, you can be forgiven for getting confused between the various names and terminology for different types of drainage. 

It’s important to understand what kind of drainage your premises have in place, as your responsibilities may differ depending on the type. 

In this article we’ll explain the differences between the various drainage types, and what your responsibilities are towards them. 

Drains Explained

who is responsible for a blocked drain - property check

Typically, you will be responsible for the drains that are within your property’s boundaries with the local sewage company taking care of drains and sewers that fall beyond the boundary. 

When it comes to drains they fall into two categories – drains or lateral drains. It can be difficult to know the difference between the two and therefore what you’re dealing with. But if an issue does arise, you need to know who is responsible or you may end up paying for work unnecessarily.

What is a Drain?

A drain is a pipe that supports the waterworks of one property, removing waste from your home or business or providing it with fresh, clean drinking water. Drains can be natural or artificial with both serving a slightly different purpose.

What is a Lateral Drain?

What is a Lateral Drain?

Unlike a conventional drain, a lateral drain sits outside your property, connecting it to the main drain and public sewer system. Usually, a lateral drain is shared between numerous properties and in some circumstances could run below or across your home or business. 

Who is Responsible For Repairing Drains?

Any drain that is on your property or boundary will be your responsibility to repair. So if a problem arises in the drains at your home or business, it is likely that you will need to cover the costs of any repairs.  

When it comes to lateral drains, you won’t need to pay for any repairs. As it is a public drainage system, it’ll be down to the local water company to deal with the cost of any work. 

What is a Sewer and Sewage?

Public Sewer Systems

You’ll probably be aware that sewers deal with the transportation of human waste, taking it from your home to its final destination. However, there are different types of sewage systems that have contrasting roles. 

What is a Sewer?

Similar to lateral drains, sewers serve a number of different properties. Sitting outside your property’s boundary, sewers remove all human waste products from lateral drains, transporting them to nearby treatment plants. 

What are Private and Unadopted Sewers?

While most sewers are shared, some properties do have private or unadopted sewers. These sewers concentrate on just one property, unlike public sewers which serve many. Sometimes this type of sewer can be found with blocks of flats, and if you do live at a property with a private sewer but would prefer it to be public, you can get in touch with your local sewer company who may be happy to take on the responsibility for you.

Who is Responsible For Repairing Sewers?

The responsibility for repairing a sewer depends on the type of sewage system your property has in place. The responsibility of most sewers falls on the local water company and you should always get in touch with them if any problems arise. Because sewers serve several properties, sometimes it may be necessary for the water company to enter your home or business in order to maintain or fix a problem.

If your drain is private or unadopted, it may be up to you to resolve the issue and cover the costs. Occasionally, the local water company may detect that there is an issue and order you to organise the repair or unblocking of a private sewer. It is important you handle this immediately or you may be charged. 

Hire Professional Drainage Services

If you think there is an issue with your drains or sewers, or are simply on the lookout for a regular maintenance service, then Express Clear is here to help. Our team of experts can provide unblocking, repairs and CCTV drain surveys to keep your entire drainage system in good working order. To find out more contact us today.  


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