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Old 07-24-2011, 06:47 PM   #1
arcenite
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Default Sewage leak: Who is responsible?

There is a a sewage leak under the sidewalk (the one that runs alongside the street) at my house (that I just purchased approximately 2 months ago). It's not bad, but it's annoying. It's very obvious that its a result of stuff I'm doing: It's minor to nonexistent during normal water use but its most obvious when running wash, etc.

Thoughts? It's far enough from the house that I don't care much about it, but it is an eye (and nose and ego) sore. I called the township once and they sprayed the grass near where the leak was but haven't come out since. Should I continue to push them or just suck it up and pay to have it fixed?

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Old 07-24-2011, 06:51 PM   #2
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The public sidewalk? If so, should be the Cities responsibility. Given the current situation, it could be awhile before they can afford to do anything about it.
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Old 07-24-2011, 06:51 PM   #3
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The public sidewalk? If so, should be the Cities responsibility. Given the current situation, it could be awhile before they can afford to do anything about it.
Yes sorry, I edited the post to clarify. The public sidewalk.
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Old 07-24-2011, 06:53 PM   #4
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The sidewalk is probably on your property.

I'm not sure who would be responsible, but I'd guess it's you. And you don't want to ignore it.
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Old 07-24-2011, 06:54 PM   #5
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There should be an ordiance about how far from the house a leak becomes city responsibility. Problem is if you push them and they find it is closer to the house and becomes your responsibility, you may be paying more than having it done privately.
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Old 07-24-2011, 06:59 PM   #6
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Thanks all... I definitely don't want to ignore it. I wonder if homeowners would cover it? Or if I should even bother calling them? I have no idea how much something like this would cost... It appears to be in a relatively contained area. But, I can't imagine that pipe is anywhere near the surface. There is a vent right there but it doesn't appear to be leaking from the vent. Ugh.
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Old 07-24-2011, 07:11 PM   #7
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Your home insurance should cover it if its not the city's responsibility.
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:37 PM   #8
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Your home insurance should cover it if its not the city's responsibility.

it would most likely fall under routine maintenance which is not recoverable with homeowners insurance.

Here the homeowner is responsible for the utility service to the centerline of the street.
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:39 PM   #9
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it would most likely fall under routine maintenance which is not recoverable with homeowners insurance.

Here the homeowner is responsible for the utility service to the centerline of the street.
Well, YMMV. I've never heard of a sewage leak in the underground pipe being considered routine maintinence. A colleague of mine had his water pipe leading from the street to the house burst TWICE and both times his homeowners insurance paid.
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:48 PM   #10
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Well, YMMV. I've never heard of a sewage leak in the underground pipe being considered routine maintinence. A colleague of mine had his water pipe leading from the street to the house burst TWICE and both times his homeowners insurance paid.
I think the insurance company might argue that the OP's leak isn't an emergency so it's not really covered by insurance. However, your colleague's pipe rupturing WAS an emergency, especially if it happened before the shut off valve.
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:56 PM   #11
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This adjuster says no coverage. To be covered under a comprehensive HO policy the loss has to be sudden and accidental. This is not sudden. Could also be denied for wear & tear or ground settling. Most policies exclude seepage from below the surface of the ground. Only possible coverage would be freezing with resulting pipe burst.
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Old 07-24-2011, 09:59 PM   #12
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Here's how it works in my town. You call the town and tell them. They will look at it, and possibly send a camera down the pipe to see where the leak is. Depending on where the leak is they will either fix it and pay for it, or tell you to get it fixed and that you have to pay for it. Either way there is no charge for initial inspection.
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Old 07-25-2011, 07:12 AM   #13
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A neighbor had a smilar problem several years ago. The leak was bout 10 feet from the sidewalk. He called a plumber and it was fixed within an hour (thank God). My guess is that it cost about a few hundred dollars to dig the hole and repair the pipe.
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Old 07-25-2011, 07:49 AM   #14
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I think the way it works around here is house side of the cleanout is your problem, and road side is the city's problem.
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:04 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Here's how it works in my town. You call the town and tell them. They will look at it, and possibly send a camera down the pipe to see where the leak is. Depending on where the leak is they will either fix it and pay for it, or tell you to get it fixed and that you have to pay for it. Either way there is no charge for initial inspection.
Quote:
I think the way it works around here is house side of the cleanout is your problem, and road side is the city's problem.
Both are good answers. It does vary with municipalities.
Sidewalk is usually your property, so don't let that cloud the issue. My experience is limited to a couple of different cities, but both of those took responsibility from the point the pipe started down at a 45 degree angle toward the main. Before that 45 was your problem.
We would TV the line and record it, and if it was on the city's side of things we'd give them the tape and they would take care of it.
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:04 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arcenite View Post
It's very obvious that its a result of stuff I'm doing:
What did you do?
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:14 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arcenite View Post
Should I continue to push them or just suck it up and pay to have it fixed?
If you wanted to push, you might be pushing in the wrong direction - call the health department, they should have someone that does sewage inspection.

If there is sewage on top of the ground, that is a public health issue, get it fixed.

Shigellosis, a disease caused by Shigella can be transmitted when flies land on sewage, and then land on your food. Having a family bar-b-q outside? See those flies? They might have just come from the raw sewage on the ground surface.
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:48 AM   #18
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Around here: If it's the main running up/down the street, then it's the city's problem. But if it's the pipe which runs to/from the house, then that is the homeowner's responsibility.

And, like 'Hiker says: You really need to fix that.
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:53 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texashiker View Post
If you wanted to push, you might be pushing in the wrong direction - call the health department, they should have someone that does sewage inspection.

If there is sewage on top of the ground, that is a public health issue, get it fixed.

Shigellosis, a disease caused by Shigella can be transmitted when flies land on sewage, and then land on your food. Having a family bar-b-q outside? See those flies? They might have just come from the raw sewage on the ground surface.
This can back fire... for here:

Contact the ---- Public Works Department at (---) -------- if you are aware of or suspect a blockage in the sanitary sewer mains. The City will check the main line for blockage and jet the City's portion of the sewer line. The City is responsible for maintaining and restoring service to the main sewer lines only. If the City’s main line is clear, the homeowner will be advised to contact a licensed plumber to service their connection. At this point, the homeowner is responsible for any and all costs incurred.

You could find yourself assessed one heck of a 'sewage cleanup' bill. There might even be fines that a plumber could 'forget' to tell the city about if he fixed. Must issues where sewage comes up is a blockage. Likely if you rod the line you won't have a problem. Recently did that and it cost me $200 to get out to the street and remove like 35lbs of tree roots.
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:02 AM   #20
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Generally speaking, the home owner owns the sewer lateral. That's the pipe from your house to the sewer line.
I've never heard of insurance paying for it, unless it broke during an earthquake.
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:03 AM   #21
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Homeowner is responsible for the drain pipe from the house to the city/town sewer pipe.
City/town takes care of the actual sewer pipe itself, but not the connection of your pipe to the sewer pipe.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:00 AM   #22
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All these generalities about the entire side were belonging to the homeowner are by no means accurate. you need to check with your utility. Unlike those of you posting above, I have done all this work for years. The city does not want you out in the street chasing a leak @ 8' deep, so they take on that part of the side sewer.
OP, since you can see evidence of this leak on the surface it is likely very shallow.
Unless it comes up out of the ground with a 180 degree bend on it, what you are talking about is a cleanout, not a vent.
As lxskllr suggested, you will probably have to fix it if it is on the your side of that cleanout, and the utility will have to fix it on their side.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:08 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skyking View Post
All these generalities about the entire side were belonging to the homeowner are by no means accurate. you need to check with your utility. Unlike those of you posting above, I have done all this work for years. The city does not want you out in the street chasing a leak @ 8' deep, so they take on that part of the side sewer.
OP, since you can see evidence of this leak on the surface it is likely very shallow.
Unless it comes up out of the ground with a 180 degree bend on it, what you are talking about is a cleanout, not a vent.
As lxskllr suggested, you will probably have to fix it if it is on the your side of that cleanout, and the utility will have to fix it on their side.
Here the city will handle cutting the street, digging and repiping (under the street) and then putting the street back but they send you the bill in the mail. However I would guess that the 'leak' is a backup. Depending on the era of the house you could have drain tile which is not water tight typically after several years. A back up then and sit in the pipe and back flow out of the pipe. Honestly I would rod the line first and see what comes back. When I started having back flow in to the house it was due to tree roots in the line.
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Old 07-25-2011, 12:38 PM   #24
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you said "It's very obvious that its a result of stuff I'm doing"

again,what did you do to break the sewer line ?
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