Attack of the autumn leaves – Avoiding blocked drains

Autumn is upon us, the nights are drawing in and we’re begrudgingly packing away our shorts and flip-flops for another year in place of cosy jumpers, winter coats and knitted scarves. Whilst autumn has its upsides, those crispy golden leaves can become quite a nuisance. Yes, we’re talking about blocked drains…

A build-up of fallen leaves can clog up your drains, affecting their ability to carry water away from your property. Whilst a small obstruction could cause slow drainage and frustration, a larger blockage could result in the back-up of water and flooding. Long-term, blocked drains can cause serious damage to your property and even the health of the people/animals residing in it.

Not only can a blocked drain emit bad odours throughout your property but it can also cause unseen leaks. This can bring about unwanted excess moisture in the home, often resulting in areas of damp and mould. You may find certain materials such as wooden floors and wallpaper warped or ruined and the stagnant water may attract unwanted visitors such as flies, mosquitos and other pests.

What can you do to prevent this?

The best way to initially reduce the build-up of leaf mulch within your drains is to plan in advance and cut away any branches imposing on your home in the summer months or in the very early stages of the season.  This will reduce the number of leaves falling into or near your drains, leaving you less to manage going forward.

Drain guards defend your drains without affecting water flow. They’re inexpensive, come in all shapes and sizes and are probably the most efficient way to keep your drains free of blowing leaves.

Whilst drain guards should protect from the majority of fallen leaves, all is not lost if you don’t decide to buy one. When the leaves start to fall, there are a few techniques you can implement in order to keep them at bay before the winter sets in. The obvious way is to get stuck in, grab some bin-liners and gloves, put some old clothes on and clear as much as you can. Focus on the areas near your drains but don’t forget the surrounding areas.

Another method is to buy or hire a specialised vacuum which sucks up all your leaves and debris. This is also helpful for pulling any leaves which have already fallen down into the drains. Alternatively, a leaf blower disperses the leaves in heavily-built-up areas but doesn’t get rid of them. This is useful if you don’t want to be left with a lot to clean up once you’re done.

Most issues relating to blocked drains are preventable with some simple maintenance. If left, what may seem a small problem can escalate into a much bigger issue. If your insurer deems the damage to be due to a result of negligence, improper use or lack of maintenance, they may not pay out for a claim.

If you have any concerns/queries about your existing home insurance or want to arrange a policy for your home, Paterson Insurance Brokers can help. Speak to one of our friendly team today on 0113 831 4024.

Could a 25p charge help the UK recycle 2.5 billion coffee cups a year?

Roughly 500 used coffee cups are thrown away in the UK every minute. That’s 2.5 billion cups per year – or 30,000 tonnes of waste. Shockingly, just 1% is recycled.

Although some local authorities do install recycling bins on streets alongside standard waste receptacles, it’s not just finding a place to dispose of our on-the-go cups that’s stopping us going green.

They need specialist recycling plants
The paper cups we’re used to sipping our lattes from are not just paper, but are lined with polyethylene. Currently, the UK has just three facilities which are able to split these paper and plastic components.

As they cannot be sent to normal depots, simply putting your cup into a recycling bin will not necessarily see it broken down and reused.

Our coffee shop habit is still increasing
There are currently around 20,000 coffee shops in the UK, predicted to rise to 30,000 by 2025 – while the number of cups we send to landfill every year is expected to rise to around 3 billion by the same year.

Labour MP Mary Creagh, chair of the environment audit committee, said coffee shop chains needed to do more to reduce the damaging environmental impact of this “massive increase”.

“These coffee shops have a big responsibility under the producer responsibility obligations to provide proper recycling facilities and they are in breach of them”, she said.

25p levy
MPs have previously called for a 25p charge on takeaway coffee. The levy would be invested in increasing the UK’s capacity to reprocess the cups, as well as discouraging the use of disposable cups. Ultimately, the committee proposes the ban of throwaway coffee cups if they are not all made recyclable by 2023.

“Disposable coffee cups are an avoidable waste problem and if the UK cannot be confident of their future sustainability, the government should ban them,” Creagh said.

Are there other solutions?
The committee has also called for improved labelling to better educate customers, and suggests coffee chains should pay more towards recycling cups.

Another option could be encouraging the use of reusable cups, such as travel mugs. Green party MP Caroline Lucas said the key was to encourage this.

“Some coffee shops offer an incentive if people bring a reusable cup but uptake stands at only 2%”, she explained. Both Starbucks and Costa Coffee offer 25p off drinks when served in a customers’ own reusable cup, and collect used cups in specialist on-site bins for recycling – even from competitors.