5 steps to fix a flooded manhole drain

June 30, 2015

Water flooding onto your patio or drive is a sign of a blockage in the pipe between your home and the main sewer or septic tank. You can get to the drain via a manhole or inspection chamber, which is usually situated just outside the house. The chamber, which may be made of plastic, precast concrete or bricks (especially in older properties), is usually covered with a heavy iron or concrete cover.

5 steps to fix a flooded manhole drain

1. Find the blockage

  1. Stop anyone using the toilet or running taps so that the water levels don't rise any more.
  2. Scrape away any dirt or corrosion from around the edge of the cover with a screwdriver. The cover has eyes or handles that enable it to be lifted out of position; thread rope through the handles to give you more purchase, and lever the edge of the cover up with a spade or chisel. Lift the cover away from the chamber.
  3. The chamber will most likely be full of waste water. Poke the bottom of the chamber with a length of wood or a mop handle; you should be able to see or feel the opening of the waste pipe. Prod as deep into the pipe as possible to dislodge any objects that may have got stuck there.
  4. If you can see the opening of the waste pipe, try a pressure washer. Insert the nozzle of the pressure washer into the pipe and press the trigger — this may shift a blockage that isn't too far along the pipe.
  5. If the blockage persists, you'll need to reach further down the drain with a set of rods.

2. Clear up the mess safely

Any pools of water from the main drain are a health hazard and should be dealt with as soon as possible.

  1. Sweep the water into a flower bed if you can. If the water is deep, use a bucket or dustpan to scoop it up.
  2. Clean the patio with a pressure washer or broom and detergent, rinsing well afterwards. Don't let children or pets onto the patio until it is clean and dry.

3. Warning

  • Don't leave an open manhole cover unattended and never climb into a manhole or tank — you could quickly be overcome by toxic fumes.
  • Always wear protective clothing when dealing with drains — thick rubber gloves, overalls, goggles and a face mask are recommended.
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