Rat, liner, drain, extension, pest, council, Thames, London, mouse,

Dear UK

I’m a homeowner living in South West London.  

I plan to put this message up on every forum I can find that has anything to do with rat infestation with the sole intent of helping those who have homes that have been ravaged by rats.  No one should have to jump through the millions of hoops I had to go through in this country to fight vermin.

We live in SW London and moved into our home back in 2013.  By all rights it looked amazing when we got it and everything from a full building survey point of view checked out.  The house had a ground floor extension built in 1987 and all the regs documents checked out to.  This extension was built over the top of a sewer that served four houses including mine which these days is the sole responsibility of the water board.  Thames in our case.

The first time I became aware of rats was when I could hear some really loud scratching/banging come from under the kitchen counter.  Very concerning to say the least when you have never experienced anything like that.  I did not initially identify it was a rodent and thought at first it was a plumbing issue from the type of banging.  To add to the issue we had some kitchen lighting under the cabinets which did not work at first.  The sparky showed me the cables he pulled out from under the cabinets and you could clearly see the cables had been chewed to bits and this had happened some time ago.  Certainly before we moved in.  Clearly, though, the many people who would have lived here prior to us were quite happy to live with rats in their kitchen.

In the beginning this was an extremely stressful situation because we lived in fear of these things as this type of evidence suggested the rat was coming up from under the sub-floor to the main floor in the kitchen where we eat.  These creatures are sewer rats and carry untold diseases that are fatal to humans.  So here is what I did on the long road to recovery.

Initially, I invested in some traps and rentokill grain bait and put them right next to the area where I could hear them under the kitchen cabinet.  Sure enough it was not long before we could hear the screams of rats in the night.  It was not a pleasure to start my working day by removing the dead rats from under my kitchen counter.  It was starting to become a regular thing.  I would catch a number for a while and the problem would go for a few weeks then it starts all over again.  In the end I bought three massive cans of expanding foam and emptied the lot down a small square opening that sat between the main floor and subfloor.  Really painful shifting a large fridge to do this. Rats never got back through that hole anymore.  What we found after this was that we were routinely plagued by flies.  These rats were dying from eating the poison and rotting under the house.  It constantly stunk like a farm in our living room/kitchen as it’s all open plan.  The smell of their urine did not help either.  These creatures are totally incontinent.  I knew they were pissing all over the kitchen floor and daily scrubbing involved to eventually get rid of it.

Anyway once I did the foam I thought that was the end of the nightmare but this was far from it.  Sure enough we started hearing noises from under our living room floor and mostly near the party wall side.  Thankfully our house has no carpets and just varnished floor boards.  This made it dead easy to lift up a board.  When I did this the smell was horrendous under there.  Loads of rat droppings and this was the air we’re breathing in.  I had to go around with decorator’s filler around all the skirting boards to stop the flies from escaping which equally can carry disease.  Really great lugging heavy furniture around several times to do this.  How many weeks did we spend chasing flies in our living room with fly spray!  

I had to invest in two foscam cameras which I mounted to the underside of the floor board that monitored the area of traps otherwise I never had a clear idea if anything was dead until flies appeared. My daily routine always involved checking the video logs for rat movement.  No surprises that the solution worked and could see the vermin checking the ring of death I made for them.

It was then that at this point I could see we have a major rat problem that no amount of traps or bait are ever going to fix this.  I was totally lost as to where these sods were getting in.  Was it from the neighbour’s house? Were they digging under the decking next to the back of the house? Were they getting in on the side of the extension next to the neighbour’s extension?  A side of which is so narrow no access is possible?  No idea at the time.

I did the next thing and tried a few pest control companies after seeing examples on TV of others with rat issues.  Wow, is this country full of useless pest controllers.  These guys just turn up and say “I’ll put bait down” and charge you more than what you can get it for from a shop online. I thought they might try and smoke bomb the subfloors through the access hatch to the sub-floor but no.  I suggested the idea and they looked at me like I was crazy. “Dah, what’s a smoke machine?” I’d seen this example on TV from a decent pest control.  There are none in my view where we live.  

I started doing my research and discovered on the net there are loads of cases like this as a result of past building work.  I was starting to build a picture in my head and it made sense these sods are sewer rats.  They’re not coming from the garden or anything above ground.  God knows I tried to look at every inch around my property to rule that out.  

I ordered a basic drain survey from a so called drainage specialist off checkatrade and we had a look together. Sure enough we saw two abandoned pipes.  One which used to carry the the previous toilet waste exit.  The other closer to the present manhole at the side of the extension which was a former guttering pipe exit.  I knew when comparing the other houses with no ground floor extension.  The 80’s builders had not bothered to seal off the old pipes.  It’s amazing how they got away with this but I am sure they get away with shortcuts all the time.  The drain guy suggested installing a metal rat flap.  A Vermead I think from memory.  That model costs an eye watering £300-£400!

In my research I discovered that some people had installed rat flaps in the manhole of the sewer like the one he suggested.  Now a few points on this.  They are not 100% effective.  There are two types on the market.  One is the plastic type which is blue and red in colour and has a flap secured by a spring.  The pest control calls these rat flaps but they’re actually called non-return valves used by water companies.  These are total rubbish.  The rat can chew these, although that never happened in my case.  Any mass that gets logged between the flap and floor leaves it open so the rat can just slip by and it happened in my case.  After a year the spring gave up.  It gets choked up with paper and wipes and the door will not fully shut tight anymore and the rat just lifts up the flap with their noses.  Sure enough the rats were in the old pipe work again and up in the sub-floor.  So that was £80 down the drain, as they say.  

I was totally frustrated by this stage and so I thought I will make this a Thames water issue.  When I first called Thames I got through to a lady whose attitude was ‘why on earth are you calling us about this’?  I was persistent. I described the problem and they sent out Thames operations, a young bloke in a small van trying to convince you that it’s not Thame’s problem.  Their system is loaded with rats which he denied at first but eventually I got it out of him.  I spent a good hour pushing this guy to take action and had to show him pictures of dead rats I had killed from under the house.  To add one of the photos near the toilet feed exit even had a dead rat in the picture.  This guy just sort of looked at the photo squinting to see it scratching his head.  Amazing!  Is that a rat?  

So after seeing the evidence he had a look at the visible man holes in the neighbour’s garden. My neighbour at the start of the row of 4 had a rotten manhole.  The guy had just been covering it with timber.  It must have stunk in the summer and it’s right next to his patio door.  Amazing! Anyway this kind of thing provides excellent access for a rat to go up and down.  Thames replaced his cover free charge a few weeks later.  A few more weeks went by and there were more rats under the house.  I called Thames again and they sent out the same bloke.  This guy had the same attitude and showed up at my front door saying ‘What do want me to do about it’?  He started saying you have a rat flap facing the public sewer.  The other end of the pipe to you has no sewer access.  I did not believe it and insisted he do more.  

So what he did was send out Lanes Plc, who did a full end to end CCTV survey and they also put bait in the manhole next to my extension.  Lanes said there are no rats in the pipework running over the four houses to the start of the access chamber at the opposite end to me.  However they did not tell me one thing.  At a random occurrence I called out Sutton water early on that week as I had a contract with them and explained the rodent issue.  On a random chance Sutton turned up at the same time with Lanes. Great! Now the Lanes group whispered in the ear of the Sutton water man and said “his issue they have just cut the pipes and that’s why he’s getting rats.” Lanes however did not tell me that!  They just jumped in the van and drove off.

More weeks went by and more rats appeared again. Now, I had sat back down started researching the web for any kind of case study to assist.  The primary suggestion I had come back was to excavate down.  However one cannot do this for a few reasons.  It would make your home uninhabitable drilling down throw that much concrete.  You’ll also have an exposed sewer in your house. Also if I had started drilling down I risked a cave in on the sewer the floor is built on top.  

I decided at this stage to try the legal route to fight this.  I was going to escalate this with the council and contact a lawyer to see how to make Thames liable to deal with the issue.  I figured the rats are coming from the sewer and Thames own the sewer.  Let’s start with the council.

I called them and explained the situation on where and how rats are getting into my property.  I explained there is an act which requires homeowners to keep their homes in sufficient condition as to not cause a public health hazard to others.  I forget the name now but it exists.  I thought I am going to keep badgering the council indicating what a problem Thames’s sewers are for me. They would only send one visit out which was another useless pest controller from Sutton Council.  I told him where they’re getting in and he just scratched his head.  His advice was to pour cement down into the sewer and then plead total ignorance when Thames get a call from my neighbours saying their sewer does not work when the toilet doesn’t flush away.  This a waste of time! Next, I was talking to the lawyer trying to go for Thames under the water act.  Totally bulletproof.

Meanwhile, I ended up upgrading to a marine steel rat flap which can cost up to £400.  These things have dual flaps mounted inside a casing as so not prone as to getting wedged open but again not 100% effective.  They do have serrated sharp edge on the flaps which is great for catching tampons.  Really pleasant to look at. Objects like this can leave the flap open and the rat will get by.  Even under normal conditions a small baby rat can get past as the flaps cannot sit fully flush on the floor of the sewer pipe.  That’s why they are never 100% effective.  I had mine installed 9 months from having no issues until one day I heard the sound of screaming under the living room floor.  I had caught the biggest rat I had ever seen.  This sod had gotten past the flap and clearly had been living on all the food waste from the sinks the houses feed into. So the flap had been open by an obstruction I think. Before you think what about the other end of the sewer, well, the start of the pipe has no access to the public sewer.  It’s just a brick chamber.  So one way in and one way out.

So the final option I had discovered was to go through drain lining.  Basically, this is a pipe within a pipe. Now this was not going to be straightforward.  First, you need to find a reputable tradesmen to do this.  They screw this up and anything above the sewer and that being my kitchen in this case is getting dug up. I contacted several of these guys.  Some of them would not touch it.  Some of them were ready and willing to go at short notice after a quote is issued.  However, only one of them pointed out something I did not know.  If you’re going to be lining a sewer shared by two or more houses you need permission. None of the other so called drain lining firms pointed this little fact out.  Anyway, I got a price and plan for that.

The next issue I has was that I had to get the toilet waste re-routed.  After all I am going to seal up the redundant toilet waste hole the new one runs parallel to.  Got a few quotes from general builders and also approached Sutton water for a quote.  I went with Sutton water.  Less likely to disappear into the night like many rogues out there.  Plus the surveyor clearly understood the issue better then the general builders. The re-routing was going to be gamble for the toilet waste as I was going from an internal route to an external one.  So the new pipe would run inside the house across the kitchen ceiling, core drill through the wall, and down into the sewer on the other side.  The boys did something else.  Instead they re-routed the pipe to go across the extension roof and then down.  Now this I wanted to avoid as the gradient is not 80:1.  I did not know they were doing this until I saw it towards the end of the day.  The other issue was that they had to open up a box on the extension roof that hid the present pipework to take it out.  I again had no idea they would have to open this up.  They had to in order to get the legacy pipework out and I had no warning this was coming.  Great!   I had to get my roofing contractor out as I had an EPDM roof and the box was covered in the rubber material.  Thankfully he was able to come out at a day’s notice and work on the box with Sutton at the same time.  Very stressful as I had no guarantee of getting the roofer out and Sutton had already started ripping into the house so it was part done.  Anyway, they sorted the new roof box, and got the piping in and working.  No pipe blocks from the new work!

Sutton installed new boxing in the kitchen where they had to break open the ceiling to get to the old pipework.  So this meant having to get a plasterer out to plaster the new box in and paint.  No big deal but had to get 3 quotes which varied massively.  

Last step now and the most nerve wracking was the drain lining.  So first step was to get approval from developer services at Thames water.  Now keep it short and sweet with this lot.  Send them a mail describing what you need to do in minimal terms.  You will have to ring up and chase approval.  In my case they were okay to approve.  A few of the decent drain specialists advised Thames can be really difficult about this but they were okay in my case.  Got the approval mail and ready to send to lining contractor.  I got the lining firm out and they did a survey before touching anything.  You can have a patch or lining.  In my case it was lining given the size.  These guys from UKDN were pros and work with Lanes part of Thames group.  I explained the issue to the two chaps working on it and they got the picture.  Within 2 mins of putting their cam down they could see the issue faster than any of the others.  A redundant gutter pipe feed just near the mouth of the manhole and of course the old toilet waste exit.  I spoke to them for a while afterwards and they said it is a very common issue with extensions.  Builders are supposed to feel old pipe exits with glass and cement to stop rats.  They rarely do! This was true as I had read many similar horror stories on the net from people having these extensions been built over the sewers.


So now you have read the long story.  Here is the short version of steps to go through:

  1. Buy foscam indoor cameras and attach to under your floor board.  Do not leave on floor where rats walk.  They will eat the cam or the power lead to the cam.  
  2. Buy lots of rat traps. Coat the things in peanut butter.  Buy the pest control bait.  The grain is total rubbish.  
  3. Contact the water board and report the issue.  Fight to the point where you’re getting threatening with the engineer in order to get them to do a visual on all of your neighbours manholes that share your sewer.  If there are no issue in the neighbour’s garden demand they do a CCTV survey.  Be prepared they will deny everything.
  4. Get your own CCTV scan of the sewer you are using and get evidence.  Thames will not believe your own footage, as I found.
  5. Make plans to re-route any pipes using the shared sewer to another location in front of the open pipework.  If you are mid-terraced you are basically screwed.  You have to side wall to reroute anything.  End of terrace, no problem.
  6. Write to developer services and get permission to install a drain liner and rat flap.
  7. Buy a vermead rat flap.
  8. Contact drain lining firm to install the liner.

List of contractors I recommend in London to help:

UKDN – Did my Drain lining

Drain scan in Morden.  Robert provides amazing advice.

Sutton Water – Pipe work. Did my new toilet waste.

TSS roofing – for any roofing needs.

M&M decorating Morden.  Chap called Marcin.

UPDATE: 21/11/16

Adding an update on other avenues on trying to hunt down paths that runs can use to enter a home.

  1. Checking drains from inside to the outside of the home.  Your own private drains could be a problem leading to infestation. One method to check this would be to use a waterproof camera with a cable run of say 30m or more.  These can be slid down the toilet/sink/basin waste pipes to eventually see the camera head come out into the sewer.  This website http://www.scanprobe.com/hire-drain-cameras.html has a number of options but I think the one that is in a case with an 8″ screen would do the job.
  2. Drain lining example.  Not everyone may understand how these are done so including an example here.  Renoline seems fairly common in the UK but drain lining is done internationally and there are hundreds of youtube examples.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BLTrkJDx58 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K80FmLHnPEk
  3. Air brick covers.  Rats and mice can chew there way through an air brick.  Example of products here help to defend against this.  http://www.pestfix.co.uk/Mouse-Mesh-Air-Brick-Covers.asp?gclid=Cj0KEQiA08rBBRDUn4qproqwzYMBEiQAqpzns9L2k7UjJW341cCJAk4Kd9z-FRM1I5KC9ADbp-zS9_MaAlNY8P8HAQ

45 thoughts on “Rat, liner, drain, extension, pest, council, Thames, London, mouse,”

  1. Thank you for posting this, although it fills me with fear. We are just a the point where Thames water are coming out and we are having a metal rat flap fitted.


  2. I have so much sympathy with you regarding the sewer rat problem….we have had a similar problem for over 35 years and everytime I think it is resolved they come back. We have had 2 drain surveys and a metal rat flap fitted and things have been quiet for 18 months. We have also had a new extension ceiling and the whole house rewired because they ate through a wire and as you have stated the insurance company do not want to know .But to my horror they are back. We have contacted the last pest controller we used and waiting for his response – but think drain liners may be the only way forward. We are quite local to Sutton and it would be most helpful if we were able to speak? Are we able to do communicate outside of this forum – I am now desperate for help and finding that the rats invade my thoughts throughout the day and night?


  3. This is literally like reading through my life for the last year – losing the will to live and totally impressed by your perseverance. I haven’t investigated nearly as much as you have, but I’ve just found out that our insurance WILL cover “removal” of the rats and I’m determined to get my money’s worth from them. Can I just confirm that your sewer runs under your kitchen? How on earth did they fit the rat flap if it’s under the kitchen? Would appreciate a personal email too if you have time.


    1. Hi Georgia,

      Thank you for your comments…

      I understand your frustration and you have my sympathy’s when dealing with the saga it is.

      Yes, your correct the sewer (shared public sewer) does run under kitchen/extension. the sewer is around 1.5 meters below the extension floor.

      To answer your question on how the flap was fitted there is a man hole hatch on the side of wall/extension. Open the cover and slide the rat flap into position. It may not fit at first as old clay sewers like mine are not a perfect circle. The flaps allow some bend but not much. I had to get a builder to widen the aperture.

      Two points to about the rat flaps I want to note:
      1. There 99% effective. There is a minor risk that baby rat which is no wider than a 5p coin could slide around the edges of the serrated blade flap. They get in and grow and then breed. This happened to me.
      2. Your only ever blocking one end of a pipe. If the rodent is traveling from the opposite side they still get access.

      If you click contact on this blog it has my email.



  4. Hi

    This is also like reading through our story for the past two years. We have them in the loft space above our kitchen /dining room extension). They’re coming up through the cavities, via the drains. We think. I think we have gone through all the stages noted here (though fitting non return valves, not the tampon chomping ones). Anglian Water has even lined a segment of a drain. Pest control put in mesh and foam
    and what not (which is least they could do for the £1k we paid in total). It was quiet for a couple of months. I dared to hope we could live in peace. We even paid for fumigation and rewiring (though I can still smell the urine/corpses/droppings some days dependent upon the weather – a factor, i’m sure you’ll know). For about a month afterwards I felt completely exhausted and drained from battling with the council and water board and living with the stench oh it. I was just about recovering and now, this evening, we’ve heard the tell tale scratching and banging. This time I really do not know where to turn. There must be something structurally seriously amiss. It just feels like we’re an open target. You all sound so calm about your situations which is admirable because it’s completely ruining our lives. I just feel so dirty living with this.


    1. Hi “At_wits_end”

      I’m sorry you also are having such a horrific time. Your story is near identical to Marion’s above I spoke with.

      Trust me when I say I have been very stressed by it too and know exactly how you feel. I’ve never fully recovered from it and I am still not holding my breath.

      You did well to get Anglian water to make repairs. That’s a lot more than our water board did.

      The NRV’s are okay for a while but eventually the spring’s wear out and the flap does not fully close. Plus if there is any obstruction on the lid (typically from tissue or wet wipe build up) they will take the opportunity to lift the lid with their nose. Plus since there made of plastic they get chewed.

      I’m planning on making an update hear about tactics to track how these furry pests get in. I think everyone’s approach is to look at the problem from looking at the outside of the property and checking the path back in. That’s fine, but the other approach is to look at the issue from inside out. Remember every property has a route from their toilet/sink/basin etc to the outside drain. Few of us every check these routes. I’m going to post some idea’s for kit to explore for holes in this method.

      Going forwards my latest advise is never buy a property with an extension on the ground floor. Especially if there built over sewers. There are too many builders out there who fail to cap off/isolate old drains to the sewer making a perfect route for rats. These guys are supposed to feel all the old paths with a glass/cement mix but typically don’t always bother leaving the home owner with a nasty problem of rats.


  5. I have a similar problem and getting nowhere in finding a solution. I have a few questions -Were the uncapped abandoned pipes under the extension and still joining the existing drainage system, such that they were not visible from the new inspection chambers? Were the rats in the new drains but accessing your property through these redundant pipes and into the property through the cavity walls? I have a concrete floor in my extension and I’d have thought this would have blocked off any unused pipe ends at ground level.
    I’ve had the drains inspected on two occasions and fitted rat flaps but with no success. The problem started some 20 years after the extension. It’s all very confusing. Any help will be appreciated.


    1. Hi Sheila,

      Sorry to hear your also experiencing this awful problem. To answer your questions:

      Were the uncapped abandoned pipes under the extension and still joining the existing drainage system, such that they were not visible from the new inspection chambers? Yes, this is correct. The only way to see the unused pipes running into the shared sewer was via the man hole to the side of the extension with a drain camera. You cannot see this with the naked eye.

      Were the rats in the new drains but accessing your property through these redundant pipes and into the property through the cavity walls? No. They never got in the cavity walls but accessed the sub-floor of the home through a redundant gutter pipe. I have a 1930’s home and they were built with floating floors so there is a 30cm void between the foundation floor and the living room floor they used to walk around in under our feet per say. Prior to the extension there was a gutter pipe that ran down into the shared sewer. The builder did not cap off the run from the sewer to the gully where the gutter pipe would have deposited water from the roof.

      I have a concrete floor in my extension and I’d have thought this would have blocked off any unused pipe ends at ground level. No do not assume this. Any pipework that was on the back of the house and drained into a sewer would have been built over not removed. There supposed to feel old pipes with a mix of glass and cement but in the countless reports I have read all over the UK in my dealing with this they do not bother. My extension floor is by appearance built on concrete too however since I have the freedom of been able to access the sub floor I can see the extension was not one solid block of concrete from the foundation to the foot level. It is in fact floating and i can see the air bricks between the extension floor and the living room subfloor where the two floors meet. The rat used to travel through the air brick to the rest of the sub-floor with no restriction.

      I would get UKDN in per my link. I had all sorts of inspections by so called experts who missed the unused gutter run until these guys and found the problem within a few mins. Pest control in this country who often offer this is a bad joke and there are many plumber firms who do camera surveys on the side to make a bit extra. Don’t waste your time or money like I did. Only every get large firms that do drain work only.

      I don’t what age your house to understand how the foundations are built but would be good to know if you have floating floors. If you have vents all around the bottom of the house that’s usually a 30’s home.

      If they are in the cavities of your home then they have dug there way in from the sewer through a dead pipe or broken pipe. Often if you cannot find any holes or pipe breaks from the sewer then look for the problem from the inside the home out to the sewer. I have uploaded information about getting cams that you can run through the toilet/kitchen/bath/sink waste pipes to where they eventually come out into a sewer, french drain, or septic tank etc…

      Hope this helps and please let the world know how your fighting this.



      1. Many thanks for getting back to me.
        I also have suspended floors in the original part of the property. The rats have taken poison from there. They are also in the ceiling spaces and attic. so I am assuming they are climbing up the cavity to get there. Luckily , touch wood, they have not found their way in to any rooms. There’s no evidence of them nesting in the attic and the other areas are not accessible to check. Also, there’s no evidence of them outside the property, so must be getting in through some unused pipes. I’ll contact UKDN and also check your link for cams that can run the inside to ouside.
        Thanks for you help.


  6. Thank you for posting this article – it has really helped me out! I am at the stage where I have found (a very suspect) disused drain pipe and want to undertake drain lining to block it off. However I believe it sits on a lateral drain (my neighbours drains connect and then this pipe runs over our boundary, but my drains that are in use connect after this one) and my understanding is this belongs to Thames Water. I would greatly appreciate it if you could share the note you sent to their development department – I want to make sure I am saying the right things so they will understand and agree – thanks!


    1. Hi LJ,

      I’m glad the article has given some guidance. Please be careful who use to do it. There are loads of people doing this who just have the machine and making money from it who have no idea what there doing.

      Here is the email I sent them:

      Hi DS,

      I have requirement to install a sleeve into my sewer. The specification is Renoline super liner 100 or 150mm liner, to fit pipe. Using polyester resin system.

      If you have any further questions please let me know.



  7. Hi, thanks for this art, I am suffering the same thing, after using a bore scope in my walls etc I think I have found the source, and it looks to be consistent bodgeing of the drain when the extension was built and then various people over the years moving the downstairs toilet around. I have someone coming round to CCTV the drains and I hope they are able to do something like you so as I don’t have to break the concrete subfloor, nor have to tear half my house down to sort it.

    My question however is, why the renoline super liner?


      1. Hi,

        I got the CCTV drain people round, and found out that when the extension was done they left the old soil pipe in place uncapped. There was then an polystyrene insulation put over the top, which then had a a reinforced concrete skim put over the top of the insulation.

        I dug through this to the location of the open pipe and sure enore there was missing insulation where the rats had chewed it.

        I then placed a steel bung in the pipe and filled the void with concrete. the other end of the pipe where the manhole is, has the rest of the household waste going into it, and so a rat flap was installed as a preventative measure.

        This was back in August and all was well, we heard no more scratching from then until this morning.

        I’m at my wits end, i cant imagine they have managed to get through the steel and the concrete and passed through the flap. I just feel physically sick, i cant concentrate on anything, i have so much stress and anxiety, i cant even move as i’m locked in with the mortgage, i cant sleep. Just really unsure what else i can possibly do.


      2. Hi Ricky,

        Firstly I am truly sorry that you are facing this again. I have been right there with you on this one.

        Rat’s are the most persistent of creatures and once they figure out a route they always come back. These creatures are far from stupid.

        So it looks as though you have been in the clear for 3-4 months? I had a similar issue prior to drain lining. I had the rat flap and nothing until 9 months had passed when I had snared one in a trap. That was my welcome home present as I could hear the thing crying in agony in the sub-floor. I know the anxiety your feeling as my wife was pregnant at the time and stuck in a mortgage at the time with vermin running around under the house. The sheer punishment a person goes through with this is incredible.

        The best thing to do is to look at this logically. We know that rats are coming from the sewer. That’s the source and that’s always going to be the case. The next think is that we need to understand the path there finding in. Any building only has so many entry points from a sewer into the building. We need to understand a map of the pipes that run under your home. Some ware along there is the issue. Re-checking over your repair work would be a first step. Rats can chew through steel and concrete. The actual correct way is to mix concrete with broken glass. Every builder is supposed to do this but they never bother. No animal in the world is going to chew through bits of smashed glass unless there magician. 🙂

        I think also investing in a good camera instead of getting those guys around to do this is a good idea. I have a link to one on my blog.
        CCTV guys are always in a rush and they don’t really look properly. If you have your own it is better and can push the camera slowly and take your time. The other point is that I would be looking initially for pipe issues from inside the home to the outside. So start from in the toilet and work your way out until you see the sewer. You would be surprised that often the pipes between the home to the sewer are at fault and the outside survey will never show this! Check all the sink and bath waste exists as well. Every route to a sewer must be individually checked.

        Keep us in the loop with how you go.


  8. Hi Ricky
    Really sympathetic to your rat problem. Sharing my ongoing problem and getting advice was so helpful in trying to solve our longterm problem with sewer rats. On the advice of the kind guy who started this blog we contacted a drain specialist called Bob – from Drainscan. Up until then we had used pest control companies, enviormental health department ( some years ago) and tried to get Thames water to help. We habv spent thousands of pounds on rat stoppers for the drains x2, camera investigation , smoke tests, repair of so called broken drains and having the whole house rewired and kitchen ceiling replaced when one of the rats bit through a cable.
    Bob is still working with us a year down the line. After further extensive drain tests he suggested our problem may be related to old drains – attached to building pulled down to build the houses in our road in 1952 rather than our exsisting drains and drains involved with the extension. Weeks of searching , with the help of local historians and Bourne Hall museum I managed to get plans for a lavatory block which was built onto the old brick works in about 1948. Plans of the old site exactly matched where our extension was so Bob thought it may be the rats were somehow accessing our cavity walls through an old drain under our extension. Cameras in the cavity wall ( part of the old outside wall) now an internal wall in the extension revealed rat droppings and a dead rat at one particular point midway with a hole leading under the concrete floor. So after some experimenting with specialist grouting ( that will not shrink or expand) the cavity wall in the kitchen has had grout pumped into it 4 weeks ago. More work is due to take place next week and as our ongoing problem has been so sporodic ( initally 35+ years ago then 10 years later, then again 5 years ago , 2 years ago and then the worse problem last year for several months) it may be a long time before we will be celebrating that we are truly rat free. But Bob’s systematic approach has been reassuring and helpful and makes sense………He is a very busy man and I don’t think he needs any new business but his approach gives us hope after repeated reassurance from pest control “experts” who took our money and did not get back to us when we asked for further help when there so called solutions failed. Apologies to BtR for not updating you earlier – but I was going to make contact again when all the work was finished. So hang on in there Ricky – use Beat the rats excellent advice to exclude your own drain system faults but if you would like to talk to me and get any further advice regarding our hopefully permanent solution via our drain expert then I would be most happy for you to email me or make contact by telephoneto talk. I was at my wits end when I came across this website lat year and the support I got from BtR as someone who truly understood my distress was brilliant. I sincerely hope you are able to get some resolution very soon. Marion


    1. Thankyou Marion,

      the house was built as a block of terraces in 1928, and was built on farm land with no existing structures, they were built for the workers of Crittall Windows. In 1995 the house was extended and the soil pipe was moved.

      We have found that the oil soil pipe was left open, and this has subsequently been blocked, using a steel pressure bung and concrete on top. I cant believe they have got through it in 3 months without us or the cats noticing the scratching noises. Which leads me to believe they have got in elsewhere.

      When the extension was built it does seem like there was systematic bodges and everything has been boxed in. I would love to just rip the boxing in work down, but then i’m inviting the rats into my home while i try and figure things out.

      I have the drain guy round again on friday, we are using a company called Premier Drains who to be honest are really good, friendly helpful, and genuinely sincere, once we found the old soil pipe open, we thought we had hit gold and so no further inspections of the drainage system took place, however i assume there must still be an issue somewhere.

      I have a diagram for how i believe the drains are connected.

      Will keep you posted how we get on.


  9. Hi,

    Had the drain people out this morning, they checked the drains and they have not been at the repair with the metal bung and cement. Nor are there signs of any chewing on the one way valve/rat flap we have ( http://thefloodcompany.co.uk/product/war-non-return-valve/?gclid=CjwKCAiArrrQBRBbEiwAH_6sNAuNe-wYUTEauEqRLKjFIYU0uoi12FhseSXKz-6CPNMQU_buoU3kfRoCI_cQAvD_BwE ) , and seems to be working fine.

    They did put a camera up a pipe not before looked at, and that is from the drain at the front of the house, there seems nothing untoward, only thing of note was there seems to be another take off, (I can’t load a diagram) bit it is a meter passed the entrance for the downstairs toilet and half meter from the upstairs toilet entrance, which would put it in the middle of the dining room floor. Unfortunately the cameras don’t bend round corners, so we could not see where this went, which is somewhat annoying. The drain guy is adamant they aren’t coming through the drains now, although they may be coming from a another source further down the terrace.

    At a complete loss now.

    Wonder if one of them robot cams can fit in 4″ drains.


  10. Sorry to be a pain, After much thought i think the next logical step is to use a smoke tester, i have rodding access to the drains, so thats pretty easy, my issue now is, i need to find somewhere that hires smoke machines for this purpose. If any one can help be most appreciated.


    1. Dear Ricky. You do need to make a smoketest of the pipes. You can not se every crack and hole with a camera. I am sorry but you need to get another rat blocker to. The rats can pass the one you have installed. Try the one from Vermend it is tested and approved. Sorry but there is no easy way to get rid of the rats. Wish you the best.


  11. So done a smoke test of the drains today. No smoke came into the house. Or the walls. I borrowed the bores cope from work and drilled a series of strategic holes. There is no holes around the house either so can only assume they are coming in from another house in the terrace. (I’m an end terrace in a block of 4) I have spoken to my immediate neighbour who hears them when we do. And she assures me she has blocked the hole they were known to be using. There I’d another house in the terrace, that’s council owned and is somewhat ropey. They have a flat roof that has seen better days and a hole in the facia they could be getting through,


  12. Thank you so much for writing your journey and helping us.
    I first heard that the rented house next door had rats they could hear in the house and saw in the garden. The owners didn’t do anything and now I can hear rats in the cavity of my lounge wall but worse now under the floor of my bedroom. I’m freaking out.
    I had an extension last year and I think my builder didn’t cap off the redundant drain from when the bathroom was moved. This has been built over so I can’t see from inside the house.
    So I’m getting a company out Friday to do a camera of the drains from the outside man hole in my alleyway next to me garden so see. My question is I’m in the Thames Water area and on their website it says if there is evidence it’s their sewers to call them.
    Do I presume though that as the drain is on my property that they wouldn’t cover this?
    I’m with Chubb insurance and also going to give them a call to see if they cover any costs.
    Thanks again for publishing your journey. Gives me hope there are ways to get this resolved.


    1. Thames water will cover the shared drains.

      You will need to check your cover on the chubb insurance.

      I wish builders would do things properly, it really isn’t that hard to block off a disused soil pipe. Maybe if they spent more time working and concentrating rather than drinking tea and staring at page 3 of the sun newspaper.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I got my builder to lift the manhole cover which is where the storm drains run into and he said there were screaming rats. So the CCTV that next paid for which states in their brochure they check all drains including storm drains clearly omitted to check them. Very annoying. So I am getting them back out and I will contact Thames Water.


  14. I’m so glad that a) you wrote this and b) I found it

    Similar problem here. Rats in walls/loft. Never inside house. Once under the bath but that was as close as they get. On and off for ten sodding years now.

    Our problem is we’re in a semi. The drain inspection shows
    something possibly uncapped next door so we’re having to try to get the neighbors to get their drain sorted and they seem to experience the problem far less than we do.

    I’m totally happy to pay. But I think they just don’t want to do it.

    So good to read though. I feel so much less alone. Let’s get the critters!!!!


    1. Great it helped.

      I know what you mean. The extension built on my home went up in 1987. I moved into it in 2013 and got it fixed eventually by early 2016. The amazing thing that still goes through my mind is that this house had a lot of people living in it from 87 until I moved in and they were more than happy to live with rats in the house and kitchen! Previous owner was a cop and kept is mouth shut about the issue.


      1. I wrote my original comment late last night when I couldn’t sleep due to anxiety about the stupid rodents. There were a couple of other things I wanted to say/ask when I got a proper keyboard.

        1) You didn’t actually say that the drain lining worked. I assume it did. How long have you been rat free?
        2) Regarding previous owners: We dare not sell ours on. I couldn’t live with myself. Our aim is to eradicate them properly before selling, but I’d be interested to hear if anyone here just gave up and sold their house with rats as a “feature” (or otherwise).

        Our previous owners actually renovated and extended the house – which was previously dilapidated. It’s interesting because the neighbours say that the problems that they have (minor scratchings in the wall – nothing like what we get) started after the renovations were done. Our theory is that the rats always entered on the neighbours side and were coming across to the dilapidated house (ours) through the cavities. When the work was being done it scared them away, but the “run” was up from next door and into our house. So when things quietened down they followed the existing “run” back up in to our house and never really settled next door.

        Like you I’ve:
        – chicken-wired up as many holes/cavities as I can find – this has involved hacking in to various parts of our house
        – sealed big gaps with expanding foam and, where possible, concrete
        – trapped (effective, but they seem to have gone off of peanut butter!!)
        – baited (horrid because you can’t find the bodies and they crawl off and die)
        – used remote cameras (I have to Motorola Focus 85’s with Wifi, HD, night-vision, motion-sensing, remote control pan/tilt – I’ve had a 5amp power socket installed off of my upstairs lighting ring in the loft to make this work, and even worked out that you can power them from a big USB battery/charging pack to put them in remote location with no power. This works for about 4 days from a big pack! Cameras at: https://hubbleconnected.com/uk/products/cameras-monitors/home-monitors/motorola-focus85-wifi-hd-home-monitoring-camera.html)
        – torn all my hair out and got stressed and anxious about it all

        Anyway, we’re back at the drains now and have a plan. I think. I’m hoping this is it for good.


      2. I know too well what that anxiety is like. You cannot sleep because one ear is listening out for them. I remember hearing the screams in the night as they hit the trap. I don’t think I’ve ever really gotten over it as my guard is always up.

        The drain lining for me was a success. It went in Apr16 and no more detected issues since then. The first thing you always notice if you have them is a smell of urine. It’s like walking around in a farm in our living room. Then followed by fly’s.

        Unfortunately there are those with no morale values and are quite to flick off then problem to the next unsuspecting person.

        What your describing is a classic issue with “extensions.” That magical word that brings a potential nightmare. I would never buy any house that is extended or go near a neighbour that has had an extension ever again. I’ve seen this time and time again up and down the country. Builders don’t often bother to cap up the old drains and paths. It’s truly incredible and this country really offers no QA process during a build on residential extensions.

        If your using cement to block holes you must mix it with smashed up glass. The little critters will eat through cement and especially foam. In fact almost anything if they can wrap there jaws around it.

        One thing that is always the case. The brown rat (sewer grey rat to me) always comes from a sewer. I’d take a good bet that is the source of the issue. You need a decent survey from one of the ones i recommended and then take it from there. Don’t waste your time with the water board. They deny everything and everything is all good to them.


      3. Thanks. I think what we’ve found is that blocking something up is a deterrant for a while, as what WAS an easy point of access is now a HARD point of access. So they find another way. But eventually head back to the original run to try and get through it.

        Funny/highly annoying thing here is that we had a pet controller out 4 years ago who did a drain survey and pointed out that there was something un-capped next door, but next door didn’t want to do anything. Then they have some problems in their house, call out the SAME pest controller who does the SAME drain inspection and finds the SAME problem.


        Ah well. Hope we can get a lining in soon then.

        Thanks for your responses!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you posting this article. It makes you step back and realise that to beat the rat, you really do need to take things into your own hands and do lots of research and reading on the internet. It was this article which triggered that process. Before that I had blind faith in Pest Controllers. Do not rely on Pest Controllers to sort your problem. They are a short term solution, long term, once a rat has entered your property, they are going to keep coming back, and back until you get to the root of the problem. Our first visit by our furry friends was back in Spring 2016 in the attic space. Once baited by our Pest Controller, all went quiet until December 2016 when they returned. Baited again. Then December 2017, the rats returned. This time we changed the Pest Controller to one who came across as more preventative, as well as baiting. Our first pest controller offered little preventative advice at all, other than don’t feed the birds. Our second set of Pest Controllers did at least survey the property and checked and baited the drains. It was at this point they mentioned the drains, that first drew me to this article. Filled me with horror, that could be the point of entry. Fortunately, the bait was not touched in the drains which hopefully ruled out this option.

    So it appears our visitors are roof rats, but a rat is a rat. The Pest Controllers pointed out gaps under the barrel tiles on the garage roof where the cheap and ineffective plastic bird-stop comb had been chewed away. This gave me confidence that we were getting close to a conclusion. Once the current infestation had been cleared the holes were stuffed with wire wool.

    Within two weeks, the rats were back. Investigating the bird-stop combs, evidence of new break-ins were readily apparent. Furthermore the wire wool used by the Pest Controllers already seems to be rusting and attacked by the rodents.

    So I have done my research on proofing, and once the current infestation has been given the clear after more baiting, then I am going to fill every opening under every tile, regardless whether the bird stop is damaged or not. Going to use the product Xcluder, which appears to be the best available on the market – at a price of course. Also bought two trail cameras to see if definite identification of entry point can be confirmed. You get to the point where every option is on the table and needs to addressed

    So passing on my advice here are some of our tips

    Investigate any noise in the house straight away – don’t think like we first did, the creatures will go away – they will not.

    Do use a Pest Controller to get rid of the infestation. Their poison is more attractive and potent than any of the over the counter stuff you can buy. (Stuff we bought over the counter was never touched).

    Make your property as unrat friendly as possible. Feeding birds is a nightmare and a magnet for rats. We stopped feeding birds back in 2016, but unfortunately, our neighbours still feed birds.

    Don’t think the Pest Controller is the final answer. Some are just baitors and others may not use the best proofing products available.

    Read reviews, reviews and reviews on Pest Control products. Some sound great and easy – but appear ineffective upon users experiences. Try not to waste your money on gimmicky products. You’ll need to spend money, so best to spend wisely.

    Read all about the rats – how they live, breed, sleep, eat, travel, likes, dislikes. You need to understand their them to beat them

    Identify all your possible entry points and proof. Even if, as in our case the entry point has yet to be used by a rodent. If you block one, they will make another nearby.

    Rats are clever, very clever. To Beat The Rat, you need to make yourself cleverer than them. It’s not easy, but not unachievable. Be prepared for the long haul.


  16. 09/02/18
    I am beggining my journey into the rat world,draincam comming tomorrow @200£,ratman been@150£
    I will beat them(dont know how or when)


  17. A year ago we heard scratching noises in the cavity wall between mine and my neighbours house and then consequently in our loft. She is 80 years old and slightly hard of hearing therefore we noticed the noises before she did. We both rang the council and they came out and baited both lofts. The bait was taken and a few weeks later my daughter’s bedroom was full of flies, we never found the remains.

    Some weeks later the noises returned and we rang a fantastic private pest controller. After numerous visits and very through inspections in the lofts, perimeters and sub floors, he concluded that there were no weak spots in the building and it must be a drain issue. The problem continued and my neighbour could hear noises behind her fireplace (on her outside wall and in front of her gas cupboard). The Pest Controller put a trap in her gas cupboard (situated in the ginnel wall in the cavity) and to date we have caught around 12 rats, the largest of which was 17 inches. He also used bait boxes in the garden which went untouched.

    The problem sometimes goes away for a few weeks but always returns with the discovery of a dead rat in the gas cupboard.

    The Pest Controller recommended a very reputable rat detection drain company (they travel all over the country) and we have both paid to have excavations works in both passageways (we have no manholes) to do a full drain survey – no defects were found.

    I have lobbied my local councillor, my local council, and united utilities as we are at our wits end. United Utilities did some ‘routine work’ back in December and were flushing drains on our street. Within half an hour of them flushing the drain the trap in the gas cupboard had gone off and a rat was killed – coincidental?

    UU have been out and said they have surveyed the public drains and found no breaks. They keep turning up in nearby streets and flushing but won’t tell me why. The council also baited the drains back in January after I put the two services in touch and begged them to help us.

    This morning we went and did our daily check of my neighbours gas cupboard and found the smallest rat to date. None of the bait has been touched in my loft for about 8 weeks now.

    I have decking at the back of my house and as a precaution we have ripped it up to check for defects, there are none. We’ve rat proofed all air bricks, down pipes, drains etc. We’ve had our private drains camera’d – nothing. We’ve been in the sub floor (obv this only checks for internal defects) and nothing.

    Please please can someone offer some advice as to what the hell we do now. It’s really affecting my physical and mental health.


    1. Hi Nicola,

      I’m truly sorry your experiencing this. Your not alone in the suffering as you might see the history of chats here.

      I have some questions:

      How old are the properties?
      What kind of property is it?
      How long have you lived in the property? You say you noticed it a year ago but overall how long have you being in the home?
      Key question. Has there being any major building alteration to your home or adjacent property? E.g. Extensions or change of layouts.
      Key question 2. Has there being any alteration of drains to your home or adjacent home?

      One of they key things I note on your issue is your finding rats in a neighbours gas cupboard. It’s a little difficult to comment on this without seeing where its situated on the property but any gas pipe runs from the ground into the cupboard. It’s very weird that finding them in there. I take this cupboard contains the gas meter in it? Need to dive deeper into the details on this. Feel free to email me a picture of it.

      One thing on the journey to fight this is to always understand the source of entry. That’s the magic answer to stopping them getting in. So far from your comments this appearance of rats in a gas cupboard needs exploring. Rats always come from the sewers in cases like this. They do appear in gardens but its usually because of people who keep throwing food in the gardens to feed birds which is a big mistake. Given you have traps in the garden with none of them going off I don’t think the entry is coming in from ground level.

      Send us the answers to these questions and think of the next steps.



      1. Thanks for your reply, in answer to your questions.

        How old are the properties? 1930
        What kind of property is it? Semi Detached
        How long have you lived in the property? You say you noticed it a year ago but overall how long have you being in the home? I have lived in my house for 18 years and my neighbour has been living in hers for 15 years

        Key question. Has there being any major building alteration to your home or adjacent property? E.g. Extensions or change of layouts. None whatsoever

        Key question 2. Has there being any alteration of drains to your home or adjacent home? None whatsover

        I have taken pics of the houses and the guinell containing the gas cupboard so that you can picture it. Would be very grateful for any advice.


      2. Hi Nicola,

        Thanks for the comments.

        Okay so you and the neighbour being there a number of years but the issue started a year ago. There have being no modifications to anything structurally around or under your homes. Well from this can we deduce that nothing done by human hands has caused them to gain access since so has touched anything. So this concludes that the rat has managed to chew there way through from a sewer to gain access to your homes. It can take years but rats in my experience are very persistent once they want to go on a route. They can chew through just about anything.

        I think at the moment the thing that stands out here is this issue where you find them in a gas cupboard. Is there any damage around the gas pipe leading into the box from the ground? Did they chew there way into this? It’s really strange place to find them. Is the cupboard on the inside or outside of the house?


      3. I’ve sent pics of the gas cupboard for you to look at. The gas meter is inside the cupboard on the outside wall, within the cavity. Therefore once a rat is in the cavity it has full access to this gas cupboard. My neighbour heard activity behind her fireplace and so we put a trap in the gas cupboard and bingo. We can go anything up to 8 weeks with nothing and then we check the trap (every day for our neighbour) and bingo. The issue is, the two semi detached houses are essentially one building so if a rat is in the cavity it can pass easily into our house. We know we have to find out how they are getting in but everyone we’ve employed are scratching their heads. The company that did the drain inspections on both properties are renowned for being the best in the business and this for them is a frustrating fail. I literally don’t know where to turn now.


  18. Hi all
    My greatest sympathy to all who have had rat problems.
    My problem started 15 years ago when after returning from a holiday I was greeted with the sight of rat droppings all over my house and was aghast. Phoned a pest control company next day but as was mentioned these people are mostly useless. I done have so may checks on the house that there is really no other place to look, we live in a end terraced house composed of 18 adjoining houses, my neighbour denies any problems (even though I seen a rat enter her house via a small hole next to her back door) I am sure she thinks that hearing rats in the walls does not equate to having a problem, only if a rat is seen in a room, very silly. She did however allow me to seal up any holes in her porch and outside walls but to no avail.

    We have rats in the cavity walls and also obviously in the loft.
    There have been many occasions when I have been in bed during the small hours when a massive banging noise comes from above my head in the loft, I get out of bed 3am ish, climb up to the loft to be greeted by a huge rat caught in one of my traps, then i have to wait for it to be still to bash it on the head several times and then dispose of it in a bag and then to outside bin.
    Then back to bed, 30 mins later same thing, same routine this has happened up to 5 times in one night, a real nightmare.
    Physically mentally and emotionally this is soul destroying so my heart goes out to all who have rat problems.
    My advice is this…..if you can sell and move on dont think twice, dont go through years of this, its not worth it, move on.
    If you cant sell you have to mentally train yourself or life could be hell. Sorry to be so negative but if rats are in the area they will find a way in especially if you are in a terraced house and not able to examine every single house for underground entry points.
    With 18 houses in the terrace the rats have access to them all through the adjoining cavity walls, its an impossible task and frankly not worth all the pain


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s