The Difference Between Plumbing and Drainage?

Plumbing and Drainage Pipes

The Difference Between Plumbing and Drainage?

Plumbing For Water In, Drainage For Water Out

It’s a common misconception to bracket plumbing and drainage together, especially as plumbers do technically provide basic drainage services (unblocking sinks for example) but there are distinct differences between to two.

Plumbing – Water In

Generally speaking, plumbing concerns the flow of water into your property. Therefore, work on taps and general water supply covers plumbing.

Turn on your tap to fill the sink or for a glass of water and that’s plumbing in action, as is turning on the shower or filling the bath.

Drainage – Water Out

Anything that takes waste water out of your property is drainage – pulling the plug to empty the sink or bath, or flushing the toilet is drainage in action.

Of course, you’d probably consider the above is also plumbing, and it’s true that plumbers will attend to drainage matters such as toilets not flushing properly or blocked sinks.

‘Heavy Duty’ Drainage

While plumbers can and often do attend to drainage matters as mentioned above, the more specialised drainage work is likely to be handled by a specialist drainage company. ‘Specialist drainage work’ could be defined as that which mainly takes place outside the property in terms of the drains and sewers taking waste water away.

While drains and sewers are often taken for granted and may well last years without much maintenance being required, when it does an expert is required. It’s unlikely your general plumber will be equipped to tackle sewer and drains work.

What Sort Of Specialist Drainage Work?

Professional drainage specialists undertake various types of work on sewage pipes and drains:

  • Inspections and surveys – sometimes using CCTV surveys (Closed Circuit Television), drains and sewers are surveyed and inspected so blockages and damaged parts requiring repair can be efficiently located in real time (footage shown on a monitor above ground)
  • Unblocking – ranging from basic techniques such as drain rodding to using advanced cutting equipment to remove root ingress from pipes
  • Installation – new drains and sewer installations
  • Cleaning – using techniques such as drain jetting with pressurised water to remove debris and clear blockages
  • Maintenance – descaling and general irrigation to keep drains flowing efficiently
  • Repairs and excavations – basic repairs can be undertaken as can major repairs to collapsed drains including those that require excavation to the drain itself
  • Floods – drainage experts can often help during flooding by using heavy duty suction equipment to remove flood water
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Disruption Management

A drainage company is used to managing possible foot and vehicular traffic disruption when drains and sewers running under public roads and paths require access by excavation or via open inspection covers. They’ll also be familiar with working in conjunction with local authorities to undertake work to the required regulations.

Inside or Outside?

In general, it’s probably fair to say a plumber can mostly take care of things inside the property whereas a drainage company would tackle work outside the property.

There may be crossover of course; some plumbers may offer basic drain unblocking such as rodding while obstinate blockages inside the house may require the more heavy duty muscle of a drainage company.

Another consideration is whether the outside drain or sewer is your responsibility or the water authority’s.

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