ISSUE 25: MARCH 2011

Avoid the expense and aggravation of blocked drains

water going down drain

Tenants often call Letwise for advice about blocked sinks and drains. Although most good leases will have clauses about reasonable care when using sinks and drains, many tenants have never lived away from home or been responsible for household chores. They don’t always understand the significance of these clauses.

In Edinburgh, many rental properties are tenements with drainage systems constructed at the beginning of the 20th Century. The actions of one occupier in a block can affect every occupier. Landlords should remind tenants that it’s their responsibility to pay for unblocking drains if they are at fault.

Fortunately, most blockages can be avoided.  Here are some tips that you can pass on to your tenants.


The easiest ways to ensure clear drains is avoiding putting food waste down the sink. In a drain, food has a tendency to expand and expand (particularly pasta and rice). A small amount of food can cause a big problem. An easy way to combat this is to use a simple perforated plate (food catcher) that fits over your plug hole when the sink drains.


Although it may look quite fluid when it goes down the sink, when it meets the cold water of the drain it congeals and eventually causes a difficult to shift blockage.

Grease should be poured into a yoghurt pot or margarine tub sealed and dropped into the bin. Frying pans should then be wiped down with kitchen roll before they are washed.

Food that is stored in oil (tinned fish, olives, feta cheese) should not be drained into a sink.


In bathrooms, hair in sink and bath plug holes combines with other residue and can create blockages.  Tenants can buy sink and plug hole un-blockers but they should be encouraged to use a plug hole cover.


Cotton buds, baby wipes, nappies and sanitary products should never be flushed down a toilet.

For more information about drainage problems visit the Property Conservation pages on the redesigned City of Edinburgh Council website.

For posters or leaflets from Scottish Water about the "Bag it and Bin it" campaign visit their website.

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