Seattle’s Side Sewers: Similar, But Not the Same

Seattle has different rules when in pertains to sewer responsibility and cost commitments. Unlike other cities, in Seattle it’s ultimately the owners’ responsibility to maintain these “side sewers” pipes even under the sidewalk or street, all the way to the connection with the city main sewer. This includes the cost of digging up and resealing the city street or sidewalk. A side sewer carries wastewater from a building’s sinks, toilets and drains to the public sewer main. A failure in the side sewers can cause raw sewage to back up into the home, give rats room to invade and create a sinkhole.

Beneath Seattle’s older homes and apartment buildings, side sewers can be inconveniencing, particularly when selling a home. While some owners fix their side sewers after discovering a sewage spill, often a problem is detected only in the course of buying or selling a home. Tree roots and soil conditions also pose potential threats. Homeowner’s insurance typically covers only the pipes inside a house and under a house, but not the section of pipe between the property line and the city main. It’s one of those sunk costs of owning a house. It’s not added to the value of the home, however it’s tens of thousands of dollars. While sellers are required to disclose known problems with their side sewer, much of the time the problems are unknown. Some realtors suggest that sellers scope their sewer and make the report available to buyers, partly as a way to discourage multiple buyers from tampering with the sewer line for video inspections. According to income, the City of Seattle will provide loans to qualified homeowners in order to make critical home repairs, including sewer lines.

Coming soon: Perma-Liner Industries is busy making plans for you. We’re planning a “Trenchless Tour” on July 27th in the New England area. We’ll be posting more information on this spectacular event…stay tuned and save the date!