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When is the City Responsible for Sewer Lines?

Who is responsible for sewer line repair?

That’s a question you’ll likely ask yourself when you face a repair. But even if your plumbing seems to run smoothly, you should know who’s responsible when it doesn’t.


Here are some things you should know about the sewer lines on and around your property.

The Basics

Of course, you’re always responsible for the sewer line from your house to the street. But even when the city sewer line is clogged, the repair costs could come from your pocket. Basically, the city is responsible for sewer lines starting at the main underground sewer pipe. That line carries waste and wastewater to your municipality’s treatment plant or other locations. The sewer main usually sits beyond the boundaries of your property.

Main Sewer Line

The main sewer line can be designed based on factors including the neighborhood’s age or geographic region.

Regardless, if the problems you have come from pipes that run to the main line, the responsibility is yours. Look for a plumber that has an “A” license and is qualified to work on those main lines.

Upper and Lower Laterals

The pipes running from your home to the main sewer line are called the upper lateral and lower lateral sections.

The upper lateral includes both the cleanout for your house and at your property line. This pipe extends from your home to the sidewalk before stemming off to the lower lateral beneath the street.

The lower lateral runs from your property line to the main sewer line. Even though this section isn’t on your property, you could still be responsible for clogs and tree roots that extend from your property.

Insurance Coverage

If you find a problem exists in your sewer lines and you’re responsible, check your insurance coverage to see if your insurer will help. Usually, you discuss ahead of time whether this type of damage will be covered by your homeowner’s policy.

Sewer Line Inspection 

If you buy a house and want to know the quality of the pipes inside and out, get a Sewer Line  Inspection. Include video of the interior of the pipes to get the best idea how long before repairs are necessary, if you can afford it. A 6 Month SEWERGARD Warranty is included at no additional expense. 

Your Responsibility 

Remember, you’re usually responsible for drain problems, even if they occur at the street sewer line. The city only ensures such repair work is correctly completed. This means you may still have to involve the city when work is done on your pipes, particularly if the repairs impact a sidewalk or public road.

Sewer problems are expensive. Be prepared for the unexpected and know your rights and responsibilities.



*Check with your city or county for more information.



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