Sewer pipe responsibility

Understanding sewer pipe responsibility

If you experience an issue with a sewer pipe, such as a blockage, it’s important that you know who is responsible for fixing it.


Northumbrian Water is responsible for the public sewers. These are outside property boundaries, under footpaths and roads.  We maintain and fix them. 


Most of our customers are connected to the sewer network, which are underground, and in your property boundary.

What is my responsibility?

Private sewers are the responsibility of the homeowner. These include:

  • Gutters, downpipes, gullies and soil stacks. 
  • Private sewerage treatment works and septic tanks. 
  • Shared drains serving flats, including Tyneside flats or a block of flats within a single boundary remain the shared responsibility of the owners. 
  • Surface water sewers which do not connect into a public sewer – for example draining directly to a watercourse or soak away.

I’m unsure if the sewer is private?

If you need to find out if a sewer is private or our responsibility, we may be able to tell you over the phone. If we can't, a technician will visit you to confirm if the sewer is our responsibility, or if it is yours.


Appointment times for checking responsibility can vary. If you have an emergency, such as flooding or blockages to sewers, we aim to arrive within four hours.


We will only carry out work on sewers that is our responsibility. If we arrive and find it's a private issue, it means it's the homeowners' responsibility to fix it. If you are the homeowner, or a tenant, you'll need to call a drainage company or your landlord to help you further.

Do I own the drain covers in my garden?

If you're having trouble with a cover in your driveway or garden, get in touch so we can help.


Our team may be able to tell you who owns the covers over the phone, but if they can't, we can send a technician out to you.


Once our technician arrives, they'll be able to tell you if the cover is our responsibility, or if it is yours.


Please note, appointment times can vary, but our team will let you know the timescales involved depending on the circumstances.

Can you help me find the drains and sewers on my property?

We don't hold information on private drains and sewers. We have a map of our assets if you think this could help. 


You can request a copy for a small admin fee, by emailing with your address.

Advice for sewer flooding and blockages

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