Beginners draining

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PaulPowers

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The original draining guide everyone reads was written for the Australian drainage systems and didn’t cover many of the issues found in draining in the UK.

If you are thinking of heading into your first drain I would personally recommend not going alone and starting with a culvert where you normally wouldn’t find methane or H2S gasses.

You should also consider if you have claustrophobia or arachnophobia, some people don’t think of this first but when your thigh deep in water with spiders the size of a child’s fist above you it really isn’t the best time to discover you don’t like being in a wet, dark, enclosed space with massive spiders.

On the note of spiders, most UK spiders are not poisonous but the Faux Widow and a couple of others can give quite a nasty bite, these spiders are normally found in the south/ south west of England.

1. Culverts/Underground Watercourses.



A culvert is a drain or pipe that allows water to flow under a road, trainline, town, or similar obstruction.

It is not uncommon for Combined Sewers (see below) in close proximity to a culvert to have an overflow within the culvert, conveniently out of the gaze of the general public. Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) allow an amount of flow from the sewer to discharge into the culverted watercourse during times of excessive rainfall, usually via a screened overflow set-up, to avoid the sewer becoming surcharged.

The dangers in culverts are varied but include; trip hazards from debris washed in, tidal flooding, flash flooding, bad air and build-up of gasses from attached sewer outfalls.

Culverts are safer than sewer or CSO systems but should still be treated with respect.

2. Storm Drains.



Storm drains by their very nature are designed to handle a large amount of water in a hurry.
Most of the time storm drains will have little water but have a large catchment area and can fill quickly.

The most common UK storm drains that get visited are;

Bunker – Warrington
Dreadnaught – Bristol
Flo-Selecta – Derby

Storm drains can have CSO systems attached as well as storm water holding tanks.

The dangers of culverts are still present in storm drains but the risk of flooding is far greater.

Always check the weather before heading into a storm drain and in the case of the system out falling onto a major river also check the local tide times.

3. Sewers and CSO systems.



A sanitary sewer (also called a foul sewer) is a separate underground carriage system specifically for transporting sewage from houses and commercial buildings to treatment or disposal. Sanitary sewers serving industrial areas also carry industrial wastewater.

A combined sewer is a type of sewer system that collects sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff in a single pipe system. Combined sewers can cause serious water pollution problems due to combined sewer overflows, which are caused by large variations in flow between dry and wet weather. This type of sewer design is no longer used in building new communities, but many older cities continue to operate combined sewers.
Sewer systems are the most dangerous drainage systems to explore with risks such as potentially explosive methane gas, bacterial infection, sudden flooding from rain or a penstock opening further upstream releasing a large flow of what can barely be called water and the big one hydrogen sulphide H2S is a colourless, odourless gas that at higher concentration is more dangerous than cyanide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_sulfide


Drain exploration can be a very rewarding and here in the UK we don’t have many of the risks found abroad such as animals that will kill you with a bite or intense sudden downpours of rain resulting in flash flooding.

Once you understand the risks and use a little common sense you’ll be wading around underground in no time.
 

PaulPowers

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The big plus for drains is there is normally no security (there are cctv cameras in some systems) and you wont bump into chavs or pikeys.

Basic kit

At the very least you'll need wellys but I'd recommend investing in waders which can be picked up quite cheap from Aldi or Lidl when they have them in stock
Lots of torches, the Lenser P7 is a good starter torch and the trustfire range of flashlights are excellent.
a sturdy tripod
 

UrbanX

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Wow! Such an informative guide by the only person I'd trust to write it!
Thanks for writing & sharing, hopefully this will get integrated into the guides / hazards section! :)
 

UrbanX

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Alright, here's a question: How do you keep your camera dry?
Do you use dry bags at all?
I've done 2 drains in my life, both floors were like polished ice, I was in constant fear of going over!
 

PaulPowers

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Alright, here's a question: How do you keep your camera dry?
Do you use dry bags at all?
I've done 2 drains in my life, both floors were like polished ice, I was in constant fear of going over!

there's two ways I deal with it. Don't fall over and if you do land on your back and hold the camera up or put the camera in a black bin liner and tie the end

I dropped the sony once in a culvert and took the battery straight out then the second I got ho,e I filled a carrier bag with cornflakes and rice and stuck the camera and battery in it, two days later it came back to life
 

UrbanX

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the second I got ho,e I filled a carrier bag with cornflakes and rice and stuck the camera and battery in it, two days later it came back to life

did not expect that answer!
No dry bags at all? I'm thinking on group explores (I know you're not into) of taking an inflatable , just for our gear.
 

Ninja Kitten

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that is brilliant...thankyou so much..think i best get out and have a look for some more underground things this year.
 

night crawler

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Great little guide that though I doubt at my age I'll be poking around in any drains but if I get the chance I'' read this up first. :)
 

PaulPowers

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did not expect that answer!
No dry bags at all? I'm thinking on group explores (I know you're not into) of taking an inflatable , just for our gear.

I guess it depends on how deep the water is, I'm not all together against group explores I just enjoy taking my time.

And no one can laugh as I lie on my back like a dying turtle after a slip ;)
 

Dark Descent

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I absolutely hate spiders, confined spaces and i still go caving, however harsh it seems, i have managed to lessen the fear of spiders with a deodorant can and lighter.
 

prettyvacant71

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Thanks for the great info!!....wot about a beginners guide for pussys:mrgreen: i wana have a go but i wud have to know that whoever i went wiv had a brain....alot of folks i know don't own one anymore:)
 
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