It’s no secret that a sewer line repair is an expensive endeavor. Oftentimes, homeowners go about their days without putting much thought into their sewer system until their day-to-day is rudely interrupted by funky smells, water or waste backup, or slow-draining fixtures. Sewer lines stretch from your property line all the way to the city main. Does that mean the city is responsible for covering damage to the sewer line? Let’s find out!
Sewer System Structure
When establishing who is responsible for a sewer line repair, it’s necessary to understand the structure of the sewer line system. Your sewer line system consists of three components. The upper lateral sewer line, lower lateral sewer line, and the main sewer line.
The upper lateral sewer line is the pipe that connects to your home’s drain system and runs all the way to your property line. The lower lateral sewer line connects to the upper lateral and runs to the main, city sewer.
Any damage done to the upper lateral sewer is the homeowner’s responsibility. However, homeowners often believe that because the lower lateral line runs outside of their property, it is the city’s responsibility to repair any damage. In Orange County, as in most other cities and municipalities, homeowners are responsible for the maintenance and any repairs to sewer laterals, which includes the lower lateral. This is the case even if the cause of damage is root intrusion or damage partly or entirely from trees planted by the city on public property.
The city will be responsible for any damage, clogs, or other problems with the public sewer main. However, sewer lines that run from the main sewer to your home, will be the homeowner’s responsibility.
Does Insurance Cover Sewer Line Repair?
Insurance coverage of sewer repairs depends on what caused the sewer issues and what the company covers. In most cases, Homeowners Insurance offers very little coverage for a damaged sewer line. Regular wear and tear or natural causes such as tree root infiltration are not covered by Homeowners Insurance. Sewer damage caused by fires, vandalism, an accident involving a vehicle not owned by the policyholder, or a city employee working on the line, should be covered by most policies in the boundaries of your property.
Your sewer lines fall under the “other structure” category of your homeowner’s insurance, and the average payout limit is 10% of your total coverage. Additional coverage is available if you purchase a backup rider which covers water damage done to your home or separate sewer line insurance. Most sewer line insurance policies do not cover damage done by natural disasters such as earthquakes or damage due to poor maintenance.
Sewer line Maintenance and Damage Prevention
Since sewer line repairs are most likely to fall on you as the homeowner, it’s important to not only understand signs of sewer line damage but also how to address them or prevent them altogether. Just a few of these signs include:
- Water backing up out of various fixtures when others are in use.
- Bubbling or gurgling sounds coming from drains
- Slow Draining fixtures
- Unpleasant odors
- Backed up cleanout
While some of these symptoms can be easily resolved, if the problem is more severe and advanced, do not hesitate to call a professional in, to address the concern immediately and effectively, before further damage is done.
Additionally, if you’re in the market for a new home, you should know that a sewer line inspection is not part of a general home inspection and you could end up with expensive sewer repairs shortly after closing on a new home. For this reason, we always recommend you hire a professional plumber to perform a thorough and dedicated inspection of your plumbing system when buying a new home.
Following a good plumbing maintenance program will aid in the prevention of premature sewer and drain problems, ensuring your plumbing system runs effectively. To minimize the costs of sewer line repair, act quickly when sewer damage symptoms arise. Here at VIP Sewer and Drain Services, our trained and knowledgeable experts are ready to assist you with all your sewer and drain needs, and for plumbing emergencies, we are available 24/7.