Property owners urged to be alert on sewer flooding

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In a year which has seen increased flooding across the UK and an ongoing stand-off between Government and the ABI regarding flood insurance, a significant cause of property flooding, sewers, appear to have flowed under the radar.

Now risk management consultancy Argyll Environmental is urging property developers, contractors and home owners to be more alert to the risks posed by over stressed sewers.

Sewer flooding occurs when a main sewage system’s capacity is inadequate and strained due to flash flooding, collapsing drains or as a result of blockages caused by the inappropriate disposal of everyday waste, most notably toiletries and kitchen waste.  As a result, surcharging sewers can occur at manholes or even within properties, through the unpleasant scenario of back flowing toilets.

“Sewer flooding doesn’t typically attract the media attention evident in press coverage of washed out homes across the country earlier this year but its impact can be equally devastating to property owners,” commented Mark Taylor, Environmental Consultant at Argyll Environmental.  “Typical damage caused by overwhelmed sewers include land and properties being flooded with water contaminated with raw sewage, an issue that alongside being horrific to clean up poses significant health concerns.  

“While insurance companies will typically cover the cost of any damage and the clean-up, there are also preventative actions that can be taken by property owners to reduce the risk of internal flooding.  It is these measures that we want home owners to be aware of in order to protect themselves from the increasing risk of sewer flooding in the UK.”

In particular, Argyll is advising home owners living in older properties with aged sewer systems which combine both foul and storm water to consider taking preventative action:

“To alleviate the risk of sewer flooding to a property, non-return valves can be fitted to sewage pipes,” added Mark.  “Inexpensive and easy to fit these valve eliminate the backflow that cause up to 50 per cent of all flood damage and also prevent other unwanted visitors such as rats from entering the home.  Equally, effective are watertight UPVC doors. Alongside reducing the risk of water and waste entering the property through external flooding, these are easy to clean and maintain, reducing the scale of damage if a flood occurs.”

Argyll is also advising property owners and developers to ensure they know who is responsible for maintain the sewage and drainage systems surrounding their homes and that adequate insurance is in place for sewers within property boundaries.

As part of the battle to combat the misery of flood damage, Argyll has developed three desktop screening reports, enabling property owners to obtain an immediate assessment of flood risk in their area without any costly call out visits or charges.  Combining comprehensive risk assessments with highly detailed flood risk data, the company’s FLOODSOLUTIONS Commercial, Residential and Brief desktop screening reports are suitable for commercial properties and agricultural land, plus residential homes. Extremely accurate and regularly utilised by law firms during property transactions, the service provides property owners with an accurate and affordable view of all types of major flooding, a must for those looking to purchase or develop a property.

“The benefit of these reports is that property owners can see in one document exactly the types of flood risk that they are exposed to and take action accordingly,” continued Mark.  “Property owners can heed further consultancy advice on flood protection measures and ensure they have adequate levels of insurance, while developers can utilise the reports to swiftly ascertain whether they are making a sound investment.  Our aim at Argyll is to help prevent clients being exposed to unnecessary risks and these reports do just that as we work to fight against the misery of flooding in the UK.”

Prices for Argyll Environmental’s FLOODSOLUTIONS desktop screening reports start from £30 for residential properties and from £85 for commercial searches.  For further information and to view the full range of environmental products available visit   

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