Say you’ve got a project on the go, a major refurbishment or rebuild of an old building. Such work might be your speciality. And there can be various elements involved, from renovation to retrofitting. Obviously you’ll be going in with a project plan, and a clear idea of materials, milestones and sub-contractors. Being prepared is key, not only for what you know you’re planning to do, but also for what you might find when you start your work.

So how should drain mapping fit in with your project? If any part of your refurbishment involves building over drain or sewer pipes you should consider commissioning a thorough drainage investigation. While it’s true that existing plans may be available, you may find that these are not up to date and that subsequent changes made over time have not been recorded.

It’s important that you consider the implications of starting your work without the latest drain mapping information. It’s one thing to have costed out the project based on materials and man-hours, it’s quite another to then have to pay out for damage or disruption to existing utilities if something goes wrong. Furthermore, if your work is contracted to run to a tight schedule, consider also the kind of delays it might be subject to if you encounter difficulties with the local drainage or sewage network. Drain mapping is vital if you’re going to have all the necessary information in advance of beginning your building project.

Cost-effective and proven to be accurate, CCTV technology is used to survey drains and provide the kind of data from which to produce up to date drain mapping. This includes schematic plans and survey sheets, and the location details of inspection chambers and manhole covers.

In fact, in many instances, accurate drain mapping is essential for a contractor’s pre-qualification information when tendering for public sector building projects, in order to fulfil environmental regulations.

The evidence in favour of drain mapping is clear, just as the evidence from drain mapping itself provides clarity to contractors and is a clear benefit when it comes to project planning for refurbishments and rebuilds.

There are good smells and bad. There are smells associated with the home, like baking and freshly laundered sheets, and smells associated with work, such as fresh coffee. These have positive associations for most people. The smell of drains, however, is unpleasant and, importantly, suggests there may be a problem that requires some attention.

A persistent smell of drains within a property can have a number of causes, some more easily addressed than others. In the kitchen, for example, it may be a case of the pipe beneath the sink being blocked, and this can be remedied in a straightforward way, by unscrewing and cleaning out the p-trap.

But there are going to be times when the smell of drains is an indicator of a more extensive, and potentially serious, problem. Then it’s time to call in the experts and get a CCTV drain survey.

CCTV drain surveys are a cost effective way of investigating your drains to find out exactly what is causing the drains to smell. You could have a blockage, or there may be a general deterioration in your pipework whereby a pipe has collapsed over time. This might sound ominous, but it’s only by investigating the problem and bringing it to light that you can then think about solving it.

Our CCTV drain surveys allow us to precisely assess the condition of your drains. We’ll provide you with a full set of information including a DVD of the CCTV footage, a report and an action plan based on our findings. If there is deterioration in your drainage system, or any faults or blockages, our drain survey will find this out.

Uncovering unpleasant home, or work, truths can be painful, but once you know what’s causing the bad smell, you can rest assured that we’ll be able to take the necessary measures to put everything right for you.

Case Study 1:

Drainage Problem

Client owns large industrial estate in Manchester which suffers from flooding within the warehouse units during periods of heavy and prolonged rainfall. This results in downtime for business operators and insurance claims for the client. Drainage Consultants were asked to investigate and put forward a solution.

A CCTV survey was completed on a 750mm-diameter brick built culvert using a robotic camera system. The survey identified that the brick culvert was collapsing resulting in a significant cross sectional area loss, causing huge reductions in flow capability and flooding to the basement units.


Sonar Trace from a manhole 9 metres deep to the collapsing culvert approximately 30 metres upstream of the manhole. The area above the collapse was identified as being within a unit and close to a party wall. Following consultations with Surveyors and Engineers within the company a decision was made to submit a proposal to excavate within the unit to a depth of 9 metres to expose the collapsing culvert. The culvert had to be over pumped during this process and CCTV surveys had to be completed 4 times each day to ensure that works to expose the culvert did not cause the culvert to collapse completely before we had chance to repair it. Following the successful repair of the culvert, a UV cured liner was installed between 2 manholes at a distance of 64 metres.

CCTV is an emotive issue. We are living, we’re told, in a surveillance society, where the increasing use of CCTV technology could, in the future, change how we live and interact with each other in ways we haven’t anticipated. A former senior counter-terrorism officer has warned the government that there needs to be more transparency around the role of CCTV cameras in surveillance with privacy versus security very much a discussion point.

CCTV technology has its critics and its champions, but context is the key thing. The use of cameras for medical purposes, for example, has obvious advantages in terms of diagnosis, treatment and surgical intervention. Similarly, when it comes to utilities, CCTV provides a modern, technological solution to the old problem of how to investigate in difficult to access areas thoroughly, and safely.

The CCTV drain survey is a vital aid to drainage specialists in diagnosing drain problems and in gathering accurate data for drain mapping. Situations arise where digging to investigate is not an option, whether due to the sensitivity of buildings in close proximity or other location factors. This problem can then be resolved by choosing to use CCTV technology to find out what’s going on underground.

The use of CCTV will enable the drainage specialist to pinpoint any trouble spots and difficult areas, discover exactly what the extent of the drainage network is, and diagnose issues and problems. The survey is cost-effective and quick and it’s a crucial means of discovering in advance what the state your drains are in.

Mortgage lenders and banks frequently stipulate these surveys as an essential pre-condition before purchasing a property; such is their effectiveness in accurately ascertaining the condition of a drainage network.

In the ongoing debate about surveillance and how technology affects us all, spare a thought for those areas where it definitely makes a positive contribution. And if your drains are a worry to you, contact us today and we’ll investigate them thoroughly using the state of the art CCTV equipment at our disposal.

There are a number of tools at our disposal when it comes to drainage inspection and the detecting and diagnosing of drainage problems. Our methods have evolved and become both modernised and more streamlined. Where once we would have relied on drainage rods, now our kit includes CCTV cameras and sonar drain tracing equipment. The detective work is equally important as problem solving, and we have various ways of investigating drains in advance of working out what action to take.

Drain tracing is a vital part of what we do, enabling us to pinpoint with great accuracy the locations of defects and faults. We use it in conjunction with the CCTV drain survey, where we can take the data we’ve gathered there and focus on key trouble spots prior to any excavation work.

It’s crucial that we’re fully prepared and knowledgeable about any situation where we’re going to be working, and sonar drain tracing gives us an early warning about any tricky locations or issues around concealed manholes and collapsed pipes.

It works like this. Specialist drain tracing equipment sends electrical pulses down the drain network, via a transmitter placed in the drain. These sonar pulses can be followed by our team above ground using a receiver, enabling us to get a clear reading of what the network below ground is like.

The use of drain tracing technology is economical both in terms of saving us time and effort prior to starting any work, and in what it costs you the customer as the information gathered allows us to quote accurately and affordably for the work to be done.

Needless to say, the benefits overall are that we’re able to undertake and complete our work on your behalf with maximum efficiency, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that we’ve done this using the very best, cutting edge equipment.

The first question is why have a drainage investigation? There could be a number of reasons: you might have found there to be something wrong with your drains, from them not working as you’d expect them to or smelling strongly; or you could be planning building work where you need to know the condition and location of pipework and sewers beforehand; or you may need a drainage investigation prior to getting mortgage approval.

Inspecting your drains can involve a number of different processes, each designed to shed particular light on the drainage network. These various methods complement one another and, depending on the location, each may be required in order to get a full picture of what is actually going on underground.

 A CCTV drain survey can reveal problem areas or weaknesses while minimising disruption to your property. This gives us the material for a thorough report and provides a health-check and diagnosis for your drains.

Sonar drain tracing uses specialist equipment to ‘read’ your drainage network using electrical pulses. This can uncover any tricky spots or weaknesses, allowing us to work out what action to take and how to take it.

Dye testing involves us releasing a colour dye into your drainpipe. This will highlight any potential drainage issues. It’s a swift and straightforward way of detecting or confirming problems such as leaking pipes. It’s also handy in situations where drainage networks are particularly complicated, or if existing plans of the system are old and out of date.

Drain mapping is essential for anyone planning building or refurbishment work in close proximity to, or over, existing drainage and sewer systems. We produce extensive, schematic plans from our CCTV survey data. We also include manhole survey sheets and a DVD of the CCTV drain survey footage.

Our professional drainage inspection can involve any or all of these aspects, depending on the size of the job or the nature of the problem. But we’re confident that in applying these investigative methods we can come up with the best, most cost effective solution to meet our customers’ requirements. We want you to feel confident in our ability to solve your problems.

The sort of things you might find out about your drains from a drain survey give a clear indication of why drain surveys are so important for the upkeep and maintenance of your drains.

If a building is near to large trees there can be root damage to pipe work. Sometimes there is significant tree root incursion into manholes, making them defective. Pipes may also come to be fractured, broken or displaced over time.

Typically, a drain survey will be able to pinpoint all these defects. It’s not always a case of responding to blockages; sometimes there will be no history of any blocked drains but a survey will uncover issues around leakage due to soil erosion. You may also need to know where main sewer pipes are located if you’re planning to extend a building.

Drain surveys are, then, an essential diagnostic tool and a crucial element in the planning aspects of building and refurbishment work.

What you get from your drain survey is a comprehensive, detailed analysis of the state of your drains. This will include a DVD of the CCTV drain survey footage, a full set of data sheets, a written report and a schematic plan detailing drainage pipework layout, numbered manhole locations and details regarding the direction of flow.

The drain survey is produced with the end-user in mind, so we try to keep it as straightforward and easy to understand as possible. We want you to be able to understand exactly what issues you may be facing with your drains so that you’ll be reassured when we tell you how we’re going to deal with them.

We’ll include these recommendations in your report, so that you’re clear what needs to be done and how we can accomplish it for you. Our drain survey may have uncovered a few things you didn’t expect, but the important thing is that we can then take action to get them fixed.