Pipe problems have been hanging around a Fleet couple’s home like a bad smell, thanks to weeks of work to solve a sewer blockage that they say has only left it worse than ever.

Engineers from Thames Water have been investigating a drainage issue at the home of Sue and Brian Smith, in Florence Road, for the last six weeks after they noticed when they moved in 18 months ago that sewage was not draining away.

However, after having dug up areas of their garden and their neighbour’s driveway, the engineers have yet to fix the problem.

Mrs Smith was told at one stage that a lack of funding meant that the project would have to be called off.

The saga is exacerbated by the fact that Mrs Smith is currently off work recovering from brain surgery and her 85-year-old mother is due to move in with them temporarily.

“They’ve done six weeks of work but it’s made the problem worse,” said Mrs Smith, 50.

“The sewer runs backwards when I flush the toilet.

“You can imagine the smell and we think we’re getting rats as well.”

She said the workmen had dug up the driveway of the house next door, replacing it incorrectly, before turning their attentions to the neighbours’ garden and shed and finally their own patio.

The work was to address two bellies in the sewage pipe, which runs from their home and under their neighbours’ garden to nearby Beaufort Road, as well as a fracture in the pipe there.

The drainage problem, Mrs Smith said, was because the level of the pipe at their home is lower than the one underneath Beaufort Road.

Having returned and drawn up designs for a solution, which will involve installing a new sewage pipe, Thames Water says the issue will soon be resolved, but for Mr and Mrs Smith it has already dragged on too long.

“We are now left with stinking sewage lying under both mine and my neighbour’s garden,” said Mrs Smith. “We pay Thames Water for taking our sewage away yet this is a service that we are not receiving, and have not for the last 18 months.

“Stress is not the word. You feel embarrassed to have people into your home. We’ve had to take so much time off work for site meetings.

“At the end of the day, if we don’t have a working sewer it’s no house that we can ever sell on. It’s been such a battle at every stage.”

A Thames Water spokesman said: “This is a really complex job as the sewer has to be replaced, not repaired.

“We’ve had to do a lot of planning and design work before we start digging as it’s located close to the property – this is what has taken the time.

“We have to be mindful of the foundations of the house as well as the other services running underground.

“Our planning is almost complete and we’re hoping to start work in the next few weeks.”