Published: 19/07/2017 By Gulliver Hill
In Hammersmith West London W6, most people think rats get into buildings through open doors or other such nonsense and never consider the buried waste network (presumably as its out of sight). The vast majority (95%) of our rat work involves period properties with modern extensions.
As you are no doubt aware, the Victorians pioneered the concept of sanitisation and ensured human waste was piped well away from our drinking water (google the ‘Great Stink’ and ‘Joseph Bazalgette’ for the full low down). They were the masters and built drainage from vitrified clay or cast iron which was hugely over engineered and put in place by very skilled engineers - its still going strong 120+ years later. Strong clay & cast iron drainage persisted up until the 1970’s when plastic came to be - since then the whole drainage industry has been going backwards at a rate of knots in terms of materials and knowhow.
Most London period stock has now had modern extensions to the rear which typically build over the original manhole and involve adaptations to the original drainage layout. The modern extension builder is typically a low skilled bodger laying plastic pipework which he then has to connect to the old clay pipework - clay pipes are imperial with 1/2” thick walls whilst plastic pipes are metric with 3mm thick walls. These connections are typically very badly done, often damage the clay pipework and also often the entire modern extension drainage is a shocker in terms of layout, design and implementation.
Rats freely chew through plastic drainage and will very quickly exploit any weaknesses in it - they cannot chew through clay or cast iron drainage. Once they have chewed through the pipes, they burrow next to it and enter the fabric of a building via a lintel bridge within the foundations or via and uncapped inlet within the original drainage network - sometimes they burrow under the slab of the extension and emerge into the original dirt foundations of the period part.
Once within a building fabric, rats can cause floods by chewing Speedfit plumbing and damage the fixed electrical supply - their urine and droppings can also cause a powerful malodour.
Baiting is not the answer - it simply causes rats to die within the building fabric and cause a very powerful malodour often combined with a blow fly infestation. With a never ending supply of rats within the sewer system, new rats simply replace those killed and the problem goes on and on indefinitely. Only solution is to locate and fix the drainage defect - we have ways and means of doing this!
This scenario is already truly epidemic on its scale across London and most major cities - with ever warmer winters predicted and zero improvement in the standard of plastic drainage forecast, its also an issue that is going to run and run...
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