Blockages and how to avoid them

Stop the block

Every day homes in your area are affected by blocked sewer pipes. 

Together, we can reduce blockages to protect your home and safeguard the environment, just by making some simple changes to our daily habits.

Report a blockage

Find out what to do if you have a blockage affecting your home.

In our bathrooms

To avoid unnecessary blockages, put items such as wet wipes and sanitary products in the bin to protect your pipes from blocking and causing sewer flooding.

Remember to only flush the three Ps:

paper, poo and pee.

Wipes don’t break down in the same way as toilet paper, and sanitary products and nappies can cause problems too if they are flushed.

If you have a dual-flush toilet, save water by using the small flush for paper and pee and the long flush for poo.

What bathroom products should we put in the bin and not the toilet?

  • Make-up, cleaning and baby wipes (even if they say ‘flushable’)
  • Nappies
  • Cotton buds
  • Plasters and bandages
  • Tampons and applicators (both plastic and cardboard applicators)
  • Sanitary and incontinence pads
  • Razor blades

In the kitchen

We've all seen reports of giant fatbergs in the news that can cause massive public sewer blockages, leading to sewage backing up into homes and streets.

To help keep our drains and sewers clear and your community free of smelly fatbergs, scrape leftover food and wipe grease from plates and pans before washing.

Sink strainers also help to catch any small bits of food that might otherwise get into your drains.

What to put in our food waste or rubbish bin?

  • Cooking fat, oil and grease
  • Leftover food from plates and pans
  • Coffee grounds

Why do we need to prevent blockages?

Every year, we deal with around 13,000 blockages in the Wessex Water region, costing £5million to resolve, not to mention plumbing bills and drain unblocking callouts if they cause waste to back up into homes. 

Around 75 per cent of these blockages involve disposable items and can easily be avoided by following our advice above.

For homeowners a blocked drain is a major burden and a financial inconvenience, but on an environmental scale it can be disastrous.

Blockages can cause pollution in streams, rivers and on our beaches affecting local wildlife and the planet’s ecosystems with waste potentially ending up in the ocean.

What is Wessex Water doing to prevent blockages?

We know that wet wipes, and so-called “flushable” wipes, are the biggest cause of blockages in our region. Sewerage systems are not designed to cope with today’s disposable household products such as make-up, cleaning, toilet and baby wipes.

Consumers can sometimes be misled into thinking these products are safe to flush. That’s why in 2016, we and other water companies called on the Advertising Standards Authority and Trading Standards to review the way these products are marketed. We have also written to manufacturers and supermarkets to voice our concerns, but the response has unfortunately been disappointing. 

We write to local communities where blockages have occurred to provide prevention advice. We also proactively encourage customers to ‘Stop the Block’ through the media, our magazine, social media channels and meeting customers at local events.

We engage with foodservice businesses, such as takeaways, restaurants and factories, in our region to ensure they have the right equipment in place to prevent fat, oil and grease being poured into sewers, causing fatbergs.

Throughout the year, our teams carry our sewer inspections and maintain or upgrade pipes where necessary to ensure the network operates as it should do and that waste can safely flow to our water recycling centres to be treated.

 

Fine to flush Fine to flush

A Fine to Flush standard for moist toilet tissue has now been developed by the water industry. 

Wet wipes with the Fine to Flush logo have been rigorously tested and are free from plastic.

It means they will not only physically pass around a toilet U-bend but will also break down in the sewer system.

Many wet wipes available are described as flushable but unless they have the Fine to Flush logo they will contain plastic and will not break down like toilet paper when flushed.

This can lead to fatbergs in sewers, pollutions, costly blockages and the misery of sewage flooding in homes.

If you are in doubt, stick to flushing the three Ps to stay blockage free!