How DIY Plumbing Is Damaging The Environment

Water pollution may not be a new problem affecting our environment but it is a problem that is continuing to increase in recent times. With the increase of DIY and home improvement programmes on television in recent years, more and more people are undertaking their own plumbing tasks around the home which is in turn increasing the amount of water pollution in the UK. This increase in water pollution is due to the fact that most DIY enthusiasts are amateurs that do not possess the necessary plumbing knowledge to ensure that their work is safe and secure.

The Problem

Last month in Enfield, London, it was discovered that sewer pipes are running into local streams and killing off wildlife – all thanks to a plumbing error. Harmful chemicals and human excrement from some homes are flowing into the local waterways, causing animal habitats to be ruined and many animals to die.

The cause of the problem is all to do with incorrect plumbing setups. Many household appliances such as washing machines, kitchen sinks and toilets are incorrectly plumbed into the surface water sewer instead of the foul sewer. This means that all of the dirty and polluted water from toilets, washing machines and the like is being channelled into rivers and streams instead of the intended sewerage system.


Many poisonous chemicals are therefore introduced into the local water supply which has several negative effects. Firstly oxygen levels are reduced which in turn decreases the amount of food that’s available for fish to eat. This of course leads to the reduction of fish in the environment- a very sad but eye-opening sight.

There are approximately 32,000 homes in Enfield that have misconnected sewer pipes, according to the Enfield Independent. The misconnections are not only harmful to the environment, they are illegal so it is strongly advisable to check your own homes plumbing connections to ensure that yours isn’t another cause of water pollution in the local area.


Chris Carthy, the environmental protection team manager at Thames Water stated that they are developing ways to advise their customers about misconnected plumbing and have created an information card to increase awareness of the problem in the hope to eradicate it. The information card includes many helpful pictures and diagrams displaying the problem and the detrimental effect misconnections have on the local environment.

Working in conjunction with the Environment Agency, Thames Water has also produced another useful tool for raising awareness of misconnected plumbing devices, an insightful DVD. The DVD will be used in the Thames Water Approved Plumbing Scheme as the basis of one of the modules.

What you can do

If you are not 100% sure of the plumbing connections in your home, do not install any appliances yourself. Ask an expert for their advice or alternatively hire a plumber to install it safely, securely and correctly for you (and legally!).

If you suspect that your appliances may not be correctly plumbed in, ask a plumber to come inspect it for you – yes, it may cost you a small fee but it will ensure that you are not breaking the law.