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Who is responsible for Water Service Line and Sewer Pipe Repairs?

Whenever you experience a break, clog or leak in your water service lines or sewer pipes, then your home could be susceptible to a flood and costly damages in property damage.

The role of the water service line is to bring water into your home. On the other hand, the sewer pipes transport wastewater from your toilets, sinks and other appliances.

When one of these lines is damaged, it will need repair. But did you know that your municipality is not responsible for these repairs? While the city is responsible for fixing the pipes going to the main water lines, it is not accountable for the property line that goes to your home.

There are two types of pipes that affect a home sewage system. The first is the upper lateral. The upper lateral extends from your home to the sidewalk before going to the street. The other type of pipe is the lower lateral. The lower lateral pipe runs from your property line to the main sewer line. If any clogs or tree roots extend from your property, then you could be responsible, even if the section is not on your property. 

Some of the most common issues with pipes include corrosion, blocked/collapsed drains and grease buildup. These repairs can be challenging as a homeowner, with sewer pipe repairs costing up to $15 000 and water service line repairs costing up to $4000. On top of this, property repair costs may need to be added to your budget.

How can you avoid these expensive repairs?

There are a variety of steps to avoid these repairs:

  • Contact a licensed plumber to check on your sewer lines annually, especially if you have many trees on your property. Any cracks and damages, such as tree roots can be countered by doing so.
    • a pipeline inspection will allow you to examine the condition of your pipes and to determine when repairs are necessary
  • Check if your insurer can help with any plumbing damage or repair. You should contact your insurer ahead of time to be prepared for unexpected line issues.
  • Install a full waterproofing system for your home. This includes a sump pump and backwater valve, which can connect to your sewer line. By implementing this system, water will be unable to re-enter your home through any drain pipes due to heavy rain. 
  • Watch what you put down the drain or toilet. Nothing should be flushed down the toilet except toilet tissue. Avoid tossing chemical-based products down the drain.
  • If you have a frozen pipe, then you should contact a professional as soon as possible. If you can, you should unscrew your hoses and insulate your exposed pipes. If you are unsure of how to do so, contact a professional to assist you.

What should I do if I experience a sewer backup?

The city is not responsible for sewer backup unless they have been negligent. In this case, either you or your insurance company can make a claim. Following this, you should take the necessary steps to clean your sewage:
  • clean up your sewer by calling in a sewage cleaning contractor. The contractor will be able to clear out debris and restore your sewer services
  • If the sewer blockage is under your property, you should hire a credible sewer contractor. It is recommended to get at least three estimates and to gather and check your contractor references. Your contractor is required to obtain the necessary permits, to repair the sewer and to arrange the city inspection of your sewer.
  • if the blockage is under city property, the city is responsible for two conditions. The city must check and determine if the problem is related to the sewer main or your private sewer pipe. The city will also deliver a sewer notice to you to indicate the results of your problem and the next steps that you should take.
    • the city may pay for your repair if your private sewer pipe is under city property barring conditions set by the city
    • To confirm where the blockage is, the city may ask you to:
      • Arrange and pay for a new contractor, a video inspection or a tracing of your sewer pipe to determine its location.
      • Provide them with the history of your sewer cleanings
      • Allow them into your home for inspections

By contacting a professional, a crew can investigate and repair your water line or sewer pipe. This will barely limit the impact on your lawn/ landscape.

Remember that you are likely to be responsible for drain problems including if they occur at the street sewer line. The city will ensure that repair work is completed effectively, but it is up to you to conduct repairs on your pipes.