Who’s Responsible for the Sewer Line From My Home?


By PLUMCORE | Posted in Blog

The sewage pipe that connects your home’s pipes to the municipal sewer system is called a lateral or sanitary sewer line. Unfortunately, like any sewer system, the sanitary sewer line can sometimes have problems.

But who’s responsible when something goes wrong: the homeowner or the city? And what happens when the line starts having problems?

Your Home’s Sanitary Sewer Line

Many homeowners think their home’s sanitary sewer line is the city’s responsibility because the sewer line hooks up to the municipal sewer system. In general, however, this isn’t true: The homeowner is responsible in virtually all municipalities.

This is because everything on the property is the homeowner’s responsibility, including all pipes on the property. Up until the point where the sanitary sewer line crosses the boundary of your property, it’s your pipe. So if there’s a problem with the sanitary sewer line, you need to fix it — not your municipality.

When Good Sanitary Sewer Lines Go Bad

You probably don’t devote much thought to your sanitary sewer line. But when it starts experiencing problems, you’ll know.  Older sanitary sewer lines are made of cast iron, ductile iron, terracotta, or orange burg which most only last about 25–35 years below ground until it begins to show cracks or integrity flaws. Earthquakes, tree roots, bad installations, or improperly disposed items (like grease or paper products) can damage the line, causing leaks or backups.

One of the first signs of a sanitary sewer line problem is multiple drains in your house backing up or draining slowly. You may also notice the smell of sewer gas in your home, and you may even notice rodents or insects, which normally live in the sewer, taking up residence in your home.

Outside, your lawn may show unexpected green spots (due to human waste leaking out of the pipe and providing your grass with nutrients). You may see indentations or divots in your lawn or the pavement, or your building’s foundation may crack or settle. If the problem is severe, you may even see sewage water pooling in your yard.

All of these problems will only grow more serious if you ignore them. Contact a reputable plumber as soon as possible. A professional will be able to fix your home’s sanitary sewer line and remedy these problems.

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