Damp is never a happy outcome. The causes of damp can be varied, but it’s important to know exactly why it’s occurring, because otherwise you can spend large amounts of time and money on the wrong solution.

Drain tracing is a key way of discovering the causes of damp seepage through external walls.


The Pub, the Leak and the Unhappy Landlady

Households aren’t the only places to suffer from drainage problems, and with commercial property there can be serious implications in terms of loss of revenue, and even the health and safety of customers and workers.

We were called out to a pub by the brewery that owned it, because there was a very unhappy landlady having to put up with a leak in her laundry room.

It seemed the moisture was coming in through the external walls and, over time, it was causing more and more disruption to the day to day business of running the pub.

Now obviously a leak is distressing for anyone, but for a busy pub it can mean serious inconvenience and, potentially, disaster. Customers can always vote with their feet and go elsewhere. So there was a real need to get to the root of the problem.


Dyeing to Find the Source of the Problem

We were on site within 24 hours of the call out. The first thing we discovered was a cracked gully on the external wall of the building.

One of the techniques at our disposal is dye testing, as part of our drain tracing operations. It’s really useful for more complex cases, such as this one involving the leak into the pub laundry room.

Our early investigations revealed that the drain had suffered considerable damage and deterioration over time and was broken in several places. We also discovered a crack in the rest bend of the pipe which was allowing water to leak into the ground.

Finally, we used our dye testing process to confirm exactly where the water was getting in through the external wall of the pub.


We excavated, replaced the broken pipework and installed a new gully. Where we couldn’t access the damaged pipe we applied patch liners – these are a great piece of no-dig technology, whereby we can re-line the damaged pipe by creating a lining inside it.

The result: one happy landlady, and one pub ready to dry-out without the customers drying up.

Sonar is all about sound propagation, and when used in drain tracing it is active, whereby emitted pulses give back echoes to help with acoustic location. The word sonar is originally an acronym for Sound Navigation And Ranging, and it first began to be used in the early part of the 20th century, possibly as a reaction to the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

How Active Sonar Works

Active sonar involves a transmitter for sound and a receiver. It creates sound in a pulse, known as a ping, which listens for echoes, or reflections of the pulse it has created. The echoes can be used to measure the bearing, or distance to an object.

With sonar drain tracing, the electrical pulses transmitted can help identify specific features of drain networks, which can then help in terms of diagnosing drainage issues and problems, or for helping to clarify details.


The Bigger Picture

There are key benefits to drain tracing when it comes to diagnoses and information-gathering.

For building projects of all sizes and kinds, drain tracing is a valuable planning tool. This is particularly true for projects involving building over existing drainage infrastructure. Many drains and drain networks are old, dating back to Victorian times. Consequently, plans may not always be up to date, or fully comprehensive.

Late discoveries of unexpected areas of the drainage network can be costly in terms of disruption and delays to a construction project, and any slippage in schedule can have serious knock-on effects.

Drain tracing therefore allows for greater pre-planning, by contributing to the bigger picture.


Clues to Collapsed Drains

Drains can deteriorate over time, and collapsed drains may occur following ground movement or the incursion of tree roots, rather than as a result of a specific, damaging episode.

On many properties, drains are closer to the surface than the main public sewer, making them more likely to suffer damage due to surface movements or ground instability.

Visible, surface signs of a collapsed drain can be depressions in the ground or specific damp patches. There may be no outward indication from how the drains are performing because the collapsed, damaged area can be further along from the property itself.

However, if left unrepaired, a collapsed drain can undermine building foundations, leading to subsidence.

Sonar drain tracing is ideal for identifying and diagnosing collapsed or damaged drains, and can also be useful in finding out enough in advance to help prevent a collapsed drain occurring.


If you want reassurance about your drainage system, contact Drainage Consultants today, and find out how our range of diagnostic and preventative drain measures can help you.

Recently workers digging up a drain near Mexico City discovered the fossilised remains of a mammoth. These dated from around 14,000 years ago. In terms of blocked drains, a mammoth would be quite an obstacle. You might think it unlikely that drains might contain large blockages without it being obvious, but in fact drains can accumulate large amounts of debris and waste over time. This is why the contemporary technological solution of a CCTV drain survey can prove invaluable.


The Tip of the Fatberg

Fatbergs are lumps of congealed fat and household waste, which accumulate in the sewer system. In 2015 a lump 40 metres long was discovered in a sewer in London. Essentially consisting of compressed wet wipes and cooking fat, the fatberg was so big it had broken the sewer.

This is an extreme example, but household waste gathers into smaller fatbergs all the time in drainage systems. Fat can coat the inside of drainage pipes, reducing their normal diameter, and therefore their efficiency.

This kind of disruption to normal drainage systems can occur over time, with a gradual build-up of blockages. However, the warning signs can appear early on, if drainage begins to seem less efficient.


The Benefits of Advance Knowledge

Having a CCTV drain survey gives you certain key benefits:

  • it enables you to find out in advance of commissioning any work, exactly what issue there are with your drains
  • it provides you with clear, documentary evidence, and can indicate the right course of action to take next; and
  • it’s very cost-effective, both in terms of manpower and potential disruption.


The process of a CCTV drain survey involves us sending cameras into your drainage system to record the condition of your drains. This is both evidence-gathering and diagnostic, providing us with vital information about the following:

  • the precise locations of where your drains run;
  • the size of the pipework;
  • the condition of the internal pipework of your drains;
  • any otherwise hidden connections; and
  • any defects to the pipework.


Once we have the results, we can compile a full report about the state of your drains, the CCTV footage on a DVD, and a recommended course of action to remedy any problems or defects.

We can give you peace of mind by providing you with the right kind of information about your drains, and we can detect problem areas before they cause significant disruption to you.

Whether you’re a household, a business or other organisation, having a proper functioning drainage system is vital to your day-to-day life. Contact Drainage Consultants today to find out more about how a CCTV drain survey can help you.