I own a directory website for drainage services companies in North England.
Good drainage should mirror the purpose of a good building: to resist and prevent the harsh effects of weather and maintain that the inside is ambient and dry.
A simple tool of comparisons can help us understand better what is helping us to achieve this homely state and what is potentially failing now and then learn to recognise the symptoms of it.
This article will help you identify the symptoms of poor drainage in and around your home.
What Is a Roof For?
The roof of a building is designed to take the main impact of mother nature's worst, rain, snow and wind. It is also designed to distribute the mass of water that accumulates across its surface area and control the flow of water down to the roof's lower edge and then collect into the guttering.
Roof fail symptoms: Damp and mould present in the ceiling and coving are a sure sign of a failed roof, be it a few broken tiles, torn inner lining or badly distributed insulation where cold and damp can manifest.
The next line of defense for your home's drainage is now reliant on the continuity of rainwater travelling from the roof, to be collected by the guttering. The guttering's sole purpose is to capture the mass of rainwater and efficiently distribute it to the downpipes, as seen on most corners of a building.
Maintaining this flow is vital and regular cleaning of your building's guttering must always be considered. It's important to keep it from accumulating build-ups of moss, fallen leaves, litter and disrepair.
Gutter fail symptoms: Black, green, algae staining on brickwork, rotten fascia boards, broken or loose guttering and discolouration on building foundations with pooling. This can create slip hazards and cracks in concrete and lower brickwork, leading to saturated damp lining, flooding and internal damp.
Rain Water Downpipes
The next stage of your building's drainage is to direct the flow of rainwater that is accumulated by the guttering and channel it directly down into a gully or soak-away, keeping this volume of water away from the exterior walls and foundations—which would have the same adverse effects as a gutter failure, as explained above.
Downpipe fail symptoms: Due to the high volume of water rushing down a downpipe, any fails in its integrity could over time seep into the exterior brickwork via old and rusted-out fittings and create flooding and pooling at the foundations. Again, look for slip hazards, cracks and rot in concrete and brickwork, following onto damp and mould penetration.
These are usually situated at ground level and more often than not directly beneath a downpipe or connected by (ACO) rain drainage adjacent to the exterior of a building. Gullies are vitally important in processing all of the surface water down and away from your home or commercial premises and usually go directly into the public drainage sewer systems.
Gully fail symptoms: Since most are open and usually positioned at ground level—apart from a grill cover for debris—they can become blocked with windblown leaves and a build-up of dirt if not properly maintained. Due to the nature of your property's drainage, if one part is not regularly cleaned, then in time it will more often than not pose a problem for another part of the drainage system.
Sewage and Foul Water Systems
This is the final and usually the grimmest final leg of your property's drainage systems. This is where the surface drainage water meets your toilets' flush away system, the sewer systems or foul water system.
These run through a connection of clay or plastic pipes underground, and the only visual of their existence is an inspection chamber—with its common metal covers or the ever-leaching stench from its location if there is a failure or blockage.
Foul water and sewer fails: If we now incorporate the model used the roof to gully, gully to sewer/foul water. We can already potentially see what we can't see: clean guttering, clean gullies, no flooding, good surface drainage, regularly inspected, maintained, and cleaned. Then we are left with what we put down the toilet and erosion of soil area (movement), damaged pipes, roots and backed up sewerage from shared sewer drainage, maybe a neighbour.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.