What is the difference between a drain, a lateral drain and a sewer?

The drainage that leaves your property can have different names depending where in the drainage system the pipes sit. Some people occasionally get these terms confused and use them interchangeably – so we are here to explain the difference between a drain, lateral drain and a sewer in simple terms.

Drain ownership responsibility changed on the 1st October 2012. Here are a few of the common terms used with explanations:

What is a drain?

A waste pipe that serves one property only is usually classed as a drain. A drain will flush out unwanted waste liquids into sewers as waste discharge to be released or processed.

What is a lateral drain?

A lateral drainage system is a series of pipes which connects the main sewage system or public sewer network together. A lateral drain can usually be found outside your property boundary, often beneath a pavement or public road.

What is a sewer?

A sewer is an underground network of pipes that carry sewage, such as waste water and excrement, waste water and surface water run-off from drains to treatment facilities or disposal points. Sewers will often serve more than one property, and they can either be public owned or privately owned.

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