Homeowners must pay for sewer service lateral pipe repairs

Infographic showing sewer and water lateral service lines

Homeowners must pay for sewer service lateral pipe repairs

Homeowners need to learn before a sewer pipe ruptures or leaks that they must pay for the repairs if it’s a service lateral line.

Service lateral pipes run from your yard to connect to main lines, whether sewer or water lines provided by the county. By connecting to the public water and sewer system, the homeowner (or business owner) accepts responsibility to maintain the service laterals.

“In the same way that you would replace your driveway if it was damaged, you also need to replace or repair your service laterals if it is damaged or broken,” according to the Fulton County Department of Public Works. “Many homeowners aren’t aware that they own their service lines—and will have to pay for any repairs.”

If the sewer service lateral between the property line and your home or business breaks, leaks or clogs, you are responsible for repairs to those lines. That’s even if the problem is with a sewer easement or public road right-of-way.

What can you do to catch a problem before it starts, or at least before it gets worse? A sewer scope inspection by Champia Real Estate Inspections provides an evaluation of the sewer service lateral line. A 90-Day Main Sewer and Water Line Warranty comes with all complete home inspections for buyers.

The Public Works Department may help remove a blockage in certain situations:

  • A serious public health threat exists if the problem isn’t fixed on a urgent basis;
  • A plumbing professional engaged by the property owner is present;
  • The property owner signs a release that holds the county harmless against any damage that may occur.

Cleanouts or repairs of sewer service laterals within the easement or right-of-way will require either the county or a contractor the county approves.

No matter who performs the installation or repairs on the sewer service lateral, the property owner pays for the costs. If the county does the work in the easement or right-of-way, the property owner must pay the fee in advance.

Don’t ask the county to do repairs or other work outside of the easement or public right-of-way. “Under no circumstances will the county repair sewer service laterals outside the ROW or easement,” the Department of Public Works said.

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