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How Do Drains Work?

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Blocked drain image by Liz Boynton.

Whether in the street or at home, a blocked drain can be an annoyance. Image by Liz Boynton (via Shutterstock).

Drains are an integral part of any home’s water system. Drains prevent clogging and blocking of the water system by ensuring wastewater leaves the system effectively.

Drains are more than a series of pipes that drain wastewater. Without them, you are at a risk of contracting waterborne bacteria.

So how do drains work? Essentially, drainage systems are not pressured dependent like supply systems. Drains depend on gravity to push down waste from the house downwards through the pipes to the septic tank. Drains are constituted of various components such as vents, traps and cleanouts which work harmoniously to ensure a smooth flow of waste.

Here’s a breakdown of how each drain component works:

Air Vents

At the very top of the drain system is an air vent which is visible on the top of many buildings. The vent relieves the vacuum created in pipes which interferes with water flow. Once this vacuum is relieved water can flow freely without any clogging or blocking. For rooms with larger flows of water such as bathrooms and kitchens, the vent should be larger in diameter to effectively relieve the vacuum.

Traps and clean outs

Besides the air vent, drains too have another vital component called the air trap. The air trap is located below sinks, toilets and floor drains. Usually, it is a U shaped pipe that prevents reverse flow of air from the drain. Sewer gases are hazardous and have a bad odour. However, with a perfectly working air trap, these gases can’t find their way back into the house. Bathtubs are fitted with drum traps to prevent bad odour from working its way back into the bathroom and also to collect hair and dirt in the drain. Kitchens are fitted with grease traps which collect grease which causes most kitchen blockages. Traps are fitted with cleanout plugs that allow you to have easier access to unblock any blockage caused by hair or grease.

What makes traps not to work sometimes?

If the trap is not working properly, check if the air seal is missing. Normally, air seals will be absent in drains that have not been used for long or if the air vent develops a leak. During winter air vents are filled with antifreeze which prevents freezing and bursting. In a nutshell, traps are an integral component of any drain as they prevent bad odour from coming out of the drain.

The above drain components are referred to as the drain-waste-vent system. They must work together in unison to ensure waste exits your house effectively. In the event one of the components is not working well, it is advisable to seek the services of a professional plumbing company to address the issue.

At Speedy Jet Drainage, we provide quality drainage services to the residents of London, Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Essex. We have over a decade of experience in the industry which guarantees our commitment to quality. Our quick response time has enables us to address emergency situations and prevent any damage.

We have no call out charges, contact us today for bespoke drainage services.

How To Prevent Blocked Drains


Strategies for Preventing Blocked Drains

Blocked drain image by Liz Boynton.

Whether in the street or at home, a blocked drain can be an annoyance. Image by Liz Boynton (via Shutterstock).

The easiest and simplest way to prevent blocked drains is by taking care of what you deposit in the drain channels. Stuff like grease, hair, coffee grounds and soap scum are detrimental to the drains and should be avoided. First, cooking grease and coffee ground deposits should be discarded in the garbage trash and not washed down the sink. Secondly, use a sieve or drain screen to cover the mouth of the drain so as to avoid hair, soap scum, and other materials from getting in. You can visit your local expert and seek professional help in regard to the best sieve for your drain. Nevertheless, it’s important to know other crucial routine tips that will prevent your drain from blocking.

  1. Hot Water Treatment

It’s important that you run hot water down the sink channel after use. Hot water melts oil and other materials preventing them from clogging. This is a precaution measure in drain unblocking as it ensures that your channels are free from obstruction. Clogs usually slow down the movement of the waste down the drain, and at times can resist material movement.

  1. Baking Soda Treatment

Baking soda is an effective cleaning agent. Once in a while, it is important to clean your drain channels. Baking soda is able to absorb the odour as it also leaves the channel obstruction free. However, for effective performance, you need to run down hot water after you apply the baking soda. If you do so, you will have a drain that is not only clog-free but also one that smells nice.

  1. Vinegar Treatment

There is so much that vinegar does. Often, you need to pour a cup of vinegar solution to the channels as you let the solution sit for half an hour. Vinegar contains acetic acid which is effective in drain unblocking. After 30 min of vinegar treatment, it’s advisable to chase the chemical down the septic with hot water. This will enhance the best unblocking results. The advantage of vinegar cleaning is the effectiveness of the chemical to enhance a clog free and good smelling channel.

  1. Consult a Professional

Plumbers are there for a reason, and you should allow the experts to do your piping works. At times, blocked drains result from reasons that are installation related. In such case, you have to seek expert advice in relation to new installations and repairs. Overall expert advice is important for the following reasons:


  • To prevent blocking of the pipes
  • Saves on cost of repair and replacement
  • To check on the performance of the water and sewer channels
  • Provides important information on how to prevent future blocking and expense

Overall, it is important to have basic tips on preventing clogging of the drain channels. This is vital in ensuring that your toilet or sink is free from obstruction. An obstruction free drain channel facilitates easy working. The practice also ensures that you save money that you would have otherwise used in the replacements and repairs. If the right tips are followed, you can easily prevent blocked drains. Contact us at Speedy Jet Drainage with any enquiries or for any further information.

How Cement Blocked Drains

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How the pouring of builders’ cement into a Peckham sewer saw this part of South London affected by the mother of blocked drains

Blocked drains cement image by Apidach (via Shutterstock).

Culprit: builders’ cement. Image by Apidach (via Shutterstock).

In February this year, a ‘selfish and irresponsible’ fellow didn’t take heed of the Three Ps message (Pee Poo Paper only) of the water companies. Instead of sticking to the Three Ps, the anonymous culprit poured cement into the sewers. With a few grams of builders’ cement, Peckham’s sewers were blocked that month. Hanover Park was affected by the mother of blocked drains.

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In Video: A Selection of Drainage Clips

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Video footage of drainage systems in action

Drainage clips image by MT Manta (via Shutterstock).

Whole Lotta Drainage going on: a sewerage operative. Image by MT Manta (via Shutterstock).

Some of London’s greatest architectural wonders are almost invisible to the human eye. They are as much a London icon as the Underground and Trafalgar Square. It is the city’s Victorian sewers designed by Joseph Bazalgette. The sewers were built to rid the city of cholera epidemics, as the River Thames was used as an open sewer. As a tribute to Bazalgette’s ingenuity, we have a selection of drainage clips for your delight. read more →

Isle of Dogs Pumping Station Listed

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Postmodern pumping station by John Outram granted Grade II* Listed Building status

Isle of Dogs pumping station image by Reading Tom.

John Outram’s postmodern pumping station on Stewart Street, Isle of Dogs. Image by Reading Tom (Creative Commons License: Attribution-Some Rights Reserved).

In most cases, function trumps form in terms of pumping station design. Most buildings are utilitarian, nondescript structures, with the exception of late-19th century structures. As for getting Listed Building Status, like rocking horse dump.

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Importance of Drain Care & Maintenance

Importance of drain care and maintenance.

Importance of drain care and maintenance.

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Six Strange Things Seen in Drains

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A selection of strange things that have been seen in drains

Clear drains image by Urbazon (via Shutterstock).

Clean drains are next to godliness. One with a fatberg or a can of lager is the spawn of Satan. Image by Urbazon (via Shutterstock).

In a previous post, we looked at fatbergs. This was in relation to how they blocked our sewers. We said how it was a big problem in our part of the world. Shortly after our piece, we found out about the unusual things that have been seen in drains. This time, the Northumberland Gazette’s latest article has inspired our post.

Here’s a look at the six strangest things to have been seen in our drains.

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In Pictures: Unusual Manhole Covers

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A selection of unusual and ornate manhole covers from around the world

Unless you fall in one, or work in our industry, manhole covers are something we take for granted. We think of them as serving a purpose, and that many of them look pretty similar. The latter point is further than the truth. Over the last 200 years, there has been numerous designs, especially up to the mid-20th century. Some companies, like John Needham and Son in Stockport, became nationwide players till their foundry closed in 1979.

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Franchise Brands Snap Up Metro Rod

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How Metro Rod, a leading drainage company was purchased for £28 million

Drain Cover Metro Rod post image by J. Taylor, 2008 (Creative Commons License: Attribution-Share Alike).

Image by J. Taylor, 2008 (Creative Commons License: Attribution-Share Alike).

Metro Rod, one of Britain’s leading drainage unblocking companies, has been bought by Franchise Brands plc for £28 million. The deal is partly funded by £20 million discounted equity placing. The remainder is funded by Franchise Brands’ new bank facilities, with up to £17 million available and £1.8 million of working capital.

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Floating Drones for Drains

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How Anglian Water’s Draincare partnership will be using floating drones for Grimsby’s sewers

Floating drones image by NH (via Shutterstock).

“I don’t care whose it is, It’s floating!” In this case we should. What is there not to like about the use of floating drones to inspect our sewers? Apart from an innovative way of identifying problems, fewer road closures and temporary traffic lights are priceless. Image by NH (via Shutterstock).

Ever been annoyed each time you see a set of temporary traffic lights? On some occasions they could be working on the drains. This job usually requires a degree of manpower and inspecting the sewers could be an arduous and smelly one. In Grimsby, Anglian Water’s Draincare have got a marvellous plan up their sleeve: floating drones.

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