It is very common that people do not realise that they have a drain problem and this leads to disastrous consequences. A recent edition to Channel 4’s ‘Help My House Is Falling Down’ (series 2, episode 3) with host Sarah Beeney, covered a couple living in Swinton, Greater Manchester.
Following the purchase of their house in 1999, serious cracks began to appear at the side of the building and to the ceilings. Numerous attempts were made to patch up the cracks but the problem deteriorated, even to the point that the floor in one room sloped by 75mm.
Over the next 10 years the owners carried out a series of repairs and re-decoration following poor advice from several builders, spending £50,000 in the process. The problems continued however and as Swinton is a former mining town it was feared that a collapsing mine shaft was responsible.
In desperation they contacted the Channel 4 programme and Sarah Beeney called in several specialists to investigate. Space age sonar equipment quickly ruled out the mine shaft theory and then it was the run of the drainage contractor to inspect the drains. A CCTV camera inspection revealed a simple break in the rainwater gully drain at the side of the house which had allowed water to escape and soften the ground below the foundations.
Other drainage defects were also discovered and the owners were charged £3,000 to replace the damaged pipework. With the movement now halted the super structure repairs to the walls were carried out and the house was redecorated and returned to a habitable building.
The couple were relieved to have finally found out the cause of the problems they had been living with for so long but distressed that they had spent £50,000 patching the damage and papering over the cracks.
At the end of the programme it emerged that the surveyor’s report which was submitted before they bought the house had actually recommended a drainage inspection as the damaged gully had been noticed at the time. The cement benching around the gully had broken away and as a result a large quantity of rainwater was escaping between the gully and the house wall. Clearly the whole 10 year problem could have been avoided if a simple drain survey was carried out at the time of the purchase.
An average roof deals with an incredible 85,000 litres of rainwater per year and it is easy to see how this would affect the structural stability of a building, Sarah Beeney said on the programme – “never under estimate how important your drains are, the effect of moving water can take your house down”. She also said that it was essential to listen to expert advice and obviously you should never ignore any recommendation for specialist tests to be carried out following a pre-purchase Building Survey.
With the aid of modern technology and the development of the drain survey cameras it is now simple and inexpensive to make sure that you do not inherit a massive problem when purchasing a property but equally if you feel that your own drains may not be up to scratch call us to carry out a CCTV camera inspection which will give you peace of mind and may just protect your house from serious damage.
Help My House Is Falling Down can be seen online on Channel 4’s 4od – Series 2, episode 3.