Drain surveys are a regular and essential procedure for both commercial and residential properties. Using state of the art CCTV cameras, drainage professionals will locate the full details and potential cause of any blockages and assess any structural defects or damage. They are also able to map the full layout of the drain in question – this can be especially important in relation to upcoming building projects. Drain surveys are also incredibly useful to prospective new buyers to ensure there are no potential future problems awaiting them in the future.

The easiest way to access drains

The easiest way to access the drains for these surveys is via a manhole (also sometimes called a maintenance hole), a chamber used by utility workers and drainage professionals to view or access underground utilities. In public areas these can be round, though in residential properties they are more likely to be rectangular, they are protected by either a metal or stone manhole cover.

If you haven’t needed to access your manhole before it may be hidden, covered up or even buried by past property owners for aesthetic purposes, which can be particularly annoying if you have a blockage and need it cleared.

How to find a hidden manhole

To find your hidden manhole your first port of call is to use a metal detector to find the cover (if it is metal), or a long stick/road pin to essentially see if you can feel a cover under the ground. Next you can check with your neighbours to find out where theirs are in the hopes that your properties share a similar layout. If neither of these strategies work, then you can contact the water board for your location to see if they have maps of the local access points for utilities.

In circumstances where your manhole simply cannot be located or maybe doesn’t exist after all then it’s time to call in the big guns. Drainage professionals can excavate an appropriate section of pipe, bore a hole through it, and use this to access the drain and perform any exploratory or other services needed. The hole can then be patched up to prevent further problems in the future. Drainage professionals can also use sonde and locate equipment to find hidden manholes.

So, is it possible to perform a drain survey without a manhole?

So, in brief – yes, it is possible to perform a drain survey without a manhole. However, it is not a ‘DIY’ job and requires experienced professionals to access the drain without causing further damage or complications. Surveys can also be carried out to stacks internally as long as there is appropriate access.

It’s always worth trying to locate your manhole before assuming it doesn’t exist, but if you are unable you don’t need to fret as any reputable drain specialist is prepared for every eventuality.

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