What are Water and Sewer Laterals?
Many property owners aren’t aware that they own their water and sewer laterals and are responsible for repairs and maintenance to them. What are water and sewer laterals?
The water lateral is the pipe line that connects from the curb stop – typically located in the front yard near the sidewalk or in the treebank area and connects into your home at the water meter – this section is the homeowner’s responsibility. The Utility owns from the other end of the curb stop to the water main.
The sewer lateral is the pipe line that connects from the house to the sewer main which is typically in the road (could be on one side of the road or the other, the center of the road etc.). This is the responsibility of the homeowner. The City/Utility is responsible for the sewer main.
Why Does It Matter Who Owns What?
Water and sewer laterals can have problems over time. The ground can settle and cause lines to break or crack or even affect the pitch of the pipe causing back pitch and potential clogs in sewer lines. Tree roots like to grow into sewer laterals and can clog them and over time break and erode the pipe. Old pipe material can degrade over time.
Any clogs or breaks to the water and sewer laterals are the responsibility of the homeowner. If these lines have to be dug up and repaired it also typically means replacing sections of curb, gutter, sidewalk and sometimes road patching which can significantly add to the cost of the repair.
What Can Homeowners Do To Prevent Costly Repairs?
The City replaces its infrastructure at different points in time – the water mains and sewer mains. When this work is being done the City is responsible for the cost of replacing the road, and the curb and gutters. This is the ideal time for a homeowner to replace their water and sewer laterals because they can avoid having the extra costs of curb, gutter and road patching being a part of their repair. It will always be the least expensive time to replace them.
It’s a great idea for homeowners to have their water and sewer laterals inspected by a licensed plumber to determine their condition and whether or not replacement makes sense.