When instructed to investigate the flooding at a beautiful Country Inn dating back to 1860, Auger found that the property had been built over the top of a stream, but it wasn’t that straightforward. The stream runs into a stone culvert and this had been backing up into the basement for some reason. Due to the various types of construction and the depth of the running water in this narrow tunnel it was not easy to survey but dye tests proved that this was the cause of the flooding.
Auger’s engineer was able to traverse 60m of the culvert below the building before it narrowed. Investigations were able to show that the culvert ran through two 19-inch pipes which were later additions; and it was these that had partially collapsed below the hotel. Parts of the original stonework (matching the building) were in superb condition considering they were over 150 years old, and unsurprisingly it was the more modern additions with clay pipes and concrete backfill that had failed. Thanks to our intrepid Engineer another Mystery solved.
There are around one million off mains drainage systems in England and Wales and when you venture outside Scotland’s central belt a very high proportion of rural and semi-rural properties North of the boarder are served by septic tanks and sewerage treatment plants. What may surprise some people is that sometimes these huge tanks can just raise out of the ground.
Auger are asked to look at this scenario more frequently than you would expect. The cause is ground water, and if you imagine trying to hold a balloon underwater you’ll get the idea. The majority occur when tanks are emptied in winter, when the ground water table rises in conjunction with the tank being emptied. Emptying the tank doesn’t mean emptying all of the liquid waste, it means removing the solids from the base of the tank. Leaving some liquid waste in the tank will often avoid the issue of it floating if ground water is high, and it need s to be emptied in the winter months. Installing tanks to manufactures specifications for wet ground conditions will avoid the risks of this occurring. Surrounding the bottom of the tank in concrete will not always suffice, and it is often necessary to secure the tank to a concrete base foundation and/ or form a concrete collar around the top of the tank.
The difference in these types of claims compared to a damaged tank with a broken baffle, or a failed drainage field is the urgency. With a damaged tank or drainage field, the homeowner still has a useable system; all be it they have to get the tank emptied more regularly. With a tank raising out of the ground, it is not only sudden and unexpected, but there is no effective system and waste will just be running into the hole below the tank, and the area will be unsafe and contaminated. This is what happened to a customer in Lanark recently. They had use of a shared Klargester sewerage treatment plant, which was emptied and almost immediately raised 3 feet above ground level.
Leaking water supply pipes are usually the result of wear and tear to old metal pipes in the ground. It is estimated that there are still over ten million lead supply pipes in the UK and these haven’t been used since the 1970’s, when we became more aware of the health issues involved with using lead pipes for drinking water. However, even though most insurance policies have an exclusion for damage caused gradually or by wear and tear, many buildings insurers will pick up all or part of the cost of investigation and sometimes the repair of these pipes; at least in the first instance.
This was the case when Auger inspected a leaking black alkathene pipe serving this picture postcard cottage recently. Black alkathene is a brittle type of plastic that is no longer used as it has a tendency to split, and this was the case here where there were multiple leaks in the pipe, along a private access road 120m in length; meaning that that entire pipe had to be replaced. The most cost effective way was directional drilling, as moling could not be completed due to the poor ground conditions. To the delight of the homeowner, Auger completed the work with minimal disruption to the driveway surfaces. In 2017 Auger were nominated for the Insurance Times Award for Claims Initiative of the Year by an Outsourced Partner for their methods of handling water supply pipe claims.