I’d be willing to bet that the average homeowner believes the less time they have to spend thinking about their sewers, the better. For most folks, the only time they ever so much as contemplate their sewers is when there’s a plumbing problem—not counting when the kids insist on watching episodes of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, of course.
You may be surprised to know that, even though I’m a plumber myself, I really can’t fault folks for not spending their days thinking about their sewers. In many parts of Sacramento, the city is responsible for sewer repair and upkeep, which is pretty standard in most cities. There is, however, a part of your sewer that you as a homeowner are responsible for should a problem bubble up.
The trouble is, though, that the average homeowner isn’t always aware of where that line is drawn. That’s what I want to talk about today in this homeowner FAQ: When is the city responsible for sewer lines in Sacramento—and when does the responsibility fall on you?
When Is the City Responsible for Sewer Lines in Sacramento?
Before I jump into answering this question, I think it’s important to explain a little bit about how sewers are connected. Each home has a lateral sewer line connecting the home to the public sewer line. This is typically located under the street or an alley. If something goes wrong with the public sewer line, the city will send in their crew to fix it.
…if you notice anything funky with your sewer outside of your home, like sewage backing up on your property or from a sewer manhole, be sure to immediately call the Sacramento Area Sewer District at 916-875-6730…
Now, as a homeowner who is having sewer problems, you are likely not going to be able to tell exactly where in the line the problem is originating from. That’s why if you notice anything funky with your sewer outside of your home, like sewage backing up on your property or from a sewer manhole, be sure to immediately call the Sacramento Area Sewer District at 916-875-6730 so that they can assess if the problem is coming from the public lines. If it is, they’ll fix it straight away.
If their public line seems to be in good working order though, the problem could be with the lateral line on your property.
When Are Sewer Lines the Homeowner’s Responsibility?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if the Sacramento Area Sewer District guys come out and check their lines and don’t detect a problem, the sewer line problems are your responsibility to deal with.
If the problem takes place in your lower lateral sewer line, which often extends beyond your property line, it is likely your responsibility.
This is where things can get a bit confusing for homeowners. Many assume that if the problem with the sewer line doesn’t actually occur on their property then the city takes care of it. Believe it it or not, though, this isn’t always the case. If the problem takes place in your lower lateral sewer line, which often extends beyond your property line, it is likely your responsibility.
Some common sewer problems that end up being the responsibility of the homeowner include:
- Main sewer line clogs: If you have water backup in your drains, multiple clogged drains in your home, or standing sewage at your sewage cleanout, you likely have a clogged main sewer line.
- Broken or cracked piping: Winter freezes, settling dirt, and even a mild earthquake can shift the ground in a way that puts pressure on your pipes, causing them to break and crack. Tree roots and flooding can also cause underground pipe damage. If your drains aren’t draining quickly or you experience sewage backups, this could be the culprit.
- Leaky pipe joints: If you live in an older home and you notice that your water bills keep creeping up, there’s standing water in your sinks, or you smell something foul in your basement or yard, your sewer system could be leaking sewage from the pipe joints.
Before you jump to any conclusions about what is going wrong with your sewer, the first thing you should do is call an experienced plumbing professional.
What To Do When the Sewer Problem Is Yours
The reason why I always suggest that you call a plumbing pro once you’ve determined that the issue is not with the public pipes, but rather with your own, is because the pros have the expertise and equipment that nobody, not even the plumbing geeks of the world, have.
A professional plumber experienced in sewers will be able to come to your home and do a variety of checks and tests to determine what exactly the problem is and where it is coming from. Trust me when I say that this really isn’t something you’ll be able to figure out on your own. The pros, like the friendly folks at Bell Brothers, have special cameras that they run down the sewer line so they can see exactly what’s going on, and they don’t mind dealing with the mess.
While they’re inspecting your pipes for the problem, they’ll also be looking out for any other small problems that can be easily fixed to stop them from escalating into larger, more expensive issues later on down the road. Once they diagnose and repair everything that needs fixing, you can rest assured that your sewer lines will hold up for a long time. That way, you can get back to not thinking about your sewers as soon as possible.
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Image courtesy Unsplash user Jesse Roberts