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Why Do Drains Collapse?

Every homeowner or business proprietor understands the inconvenience and costly repercussions of a collapsed drain. It not only disrupts your day-to-day activities but can also potentially lead to structural damage and extensive repair costs.

Understanding why drains collapse can help mitigate this risk and implement preventive measures.


What Is A Collapsed Drain?

A collapsed drain is essentially a broken or damaged pipe that is no longer capable of efficiently carrying waste material away from a property. The fault could be a simple crack, a complete collapse or anything in between, affecting the flow of water and potentially leading to serious issues such as blockages, leakage, or flooding.

Copyright: Pipeline Drainage Solutions

Causes of Drain Collapse

Age and Wear
One of the primary reasons for drain collapse is the age of the infrastructure. Like any other part of your property, drains suffer from wear and tear over time. Older properties in the UK, particularly those with original clay or cast iron pipework, are more prone to experiencing a collapsed drain due to material degradation over time.

Tree Root Invasion
Plant and tree roots naturally grow towards a source of water and nutrients. They can infiltrate the pipe through small cracks or joints, expanding over time and causing significant damage to the structure of the pipe. This pressure can eventually lead to a collapsed drain.

Ground Movement
Changes in the ground or soil surrounding the pipes can also cause a drain to collapse. Subsidence, for example, a common issue in some parts of the UK, can result in the ground moving or sinking, putting pressure on the pipes and potentially causing them to crack or collapse.

Poor Installation
Poor installation or incorrect drain laying can lead to numerous issues, including drain collapse.

If pipes are not properly bedded, they can be subject to undue stress, which can cause them to break over time. Similarly, using pipes unsuitable for the type of soil or load can also lead to collapse.

If a blockage is not cleared promptly, the build-up of waste can put pressure on the pipe, leading to cracks and potentially a full collapse. Regular maintenance is crucial to prevent this from happening.

Heavy Loads Above Ground
Drain pipes, especially those located near the surface, can collapse under the pressure of heavy loads above them. This includes heavy vehicles, construction work, or even a large amount of soil.

Prevention and Repair

Identifying a potential drain collapse early can save a significant amount of time, hassle, and cost. Regular drain surveys, proper installation, and swift action when dealing with blockages can help prevent a drain from collapsing.

If you do suspect a collapsed drain, it’s important to consult with professionals immediately to prevent further damage and begin repair work.


Drain collapses can cause a host of issues for homeowners and businesses alike. By understanding the common causes, you can take preventative measures to safeguard your property. A collapsed drain can seem like a daunting problem. Still, with professional help and prompt action, it can be effectively repaired, getting you back to your daily routine with minimal disruption.

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