Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy.

How to hire guide: drain clearance contractors

Blocked toilets, sinks and drains need emergency attention, but taking a moment to find a reputable drain clearance company can prevent poor workmanship and further problems.
man clearing a drain

The majority of drain clearance jobs will be emergencies. Tom Presswood from Mega-Rod told us: ‘It can be hard in an emergency not to just choose the first company that you find.’ But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for second best when it comes to hiring a reputable contractor. So what’s the best way to find a contractor who will get the job done without charging an unreasonable amount?

Check our article about finding emergency traders for more on emergency services, or read on for more advice on finding drain clearance engineers in particular.

Finding drain clearance engineers

Which? Trusted Traders has drain clearance specialists in your area. Mega-Rod’s Tom Presswood says, ‘Word of mouth is always a good way to find traders. Accreditation with Which? Trusted Traders goes a long way to ensure an honourable trader turns up.’ But if you’re going to do a general internet search, be prepared to look beyond the first few sponsored results if you want to find a genuinely local trader.

Tom told us that intermediary companies often pay for sponsored advertising. They may appear local, but anyone can buy local phone numbers quite cheaply. These companies will pass on work to local traders but levy a mark-up that’s passed on to the customer. He suggests scrolling down and looking for a company you’ve seen about locally, particularly one that has a website with a local address displayed.

Ben Lawrence from Quality Drainage Company Limited suggests looking at reviews for local drain clearance companies as a next step. Many drain clearers have websites and list relevant training and qualifications, such as those related to use of high pressure water jets, asbestos awareness, safety and so on.

Ben recommends looking for a company that seems to take the health and safety of its customers and employees seriously. A good drain clearance firm will reassure you that its machinery is well-maintained and regularly tested, for example.

Quotes for drain problems

The nature of your problem will determine whether a drain clearance professional should visit your property to investigate or whether they can give you a quote on the phone or via email.

A blocked toilet or sink is usually straightforward but good traders will suggest a no-obligation survey for more complicated blockages.

Tom says that Mega-Rod uses ‘the same charging structure for emergency call outs as for planned work, but they do cost more for the first hour and subsequent half hour out of hours.’ This is because there will be fewer vans on the road out of hours, so they have to travel greater distances.

It’s a good idea to get a few quotes for any job. For a complex drainage problem, ask for a written quote which details the work, equipment and time needed as well as the price and a guarantee.

Quotes that are considerably cheaper than others should ring alarm bells. These traders might temporarily unblock the pipe or drain, but using the wrong materials or machinery could do more harm than good in the long term.

Tom says, ‘It’s vital to ensure that the tools needed to unblock the drain are included I nthe price being quoted. If someone gives you a ridiculously cheap price, they may look to increase the final total in other ways.’

Don’t rush into the wrong decision

A drain clearance contractor who can’t attend to a job immediately shouldn't be ruled out. Excavation work, for example, takes time to complete and could have been booked in advance. Even for emergencies, you could expect to wait a few hours before the trader is available.

Paying for drain clearance work

Never pay anything in advance, unless the job amounts to more than £1,000 (unlikely for most simple domestic jobs) or involves pre-ordering costly materials in which case the trader might ask for a deposit.

Ask the trader to explain what they have done and show you that the problem is resolved before paying. Always get a receipt for the transaction and keep it safe together with the quote in case of any future problems covered by the guarantee you agreed.

More on this…

Here are some other articles you might find helpful