Obstructed Sanitary Sewer Service Line Policy
The town’s sewer utility is regulated by By-Law #1805. Sections 304 and 306 of By-Law 1805 establish the responsibility for clearing blocked service lines. This policy is intended to clarify how the responsibilities established in the By-Law will be managed.
In the provision of sewer services to any property, the town installs the service line from the main to the property line. The developer is responsible for installing the service line from the property line to the building.
The town accepts responsibility for the functionality of the portion of the service line we install. However, the town cannot accept responsibility for the line on private property installed by the developer or for whatever the customer may put into the line. The following policy is based on these principles.
Clearing an Obstruction in A Sanitary Sewer Service Line
Typically, sewer line obstructions fall into one of the following three categories:
- Obstruction due to the failure of the service line. Service lines typically fail due to defects in materials, workmanship or age.
- Obstruction due to tree roots.
- Obstruction due to other blockages. There may be several reasons for this. If the line has not been cleaned for some time, it may have buildup on the inside reducing the interior diameter to the point solids hang up and create a blockage. The other typical reason is solids too large for the line.
- The town will assume responsibility for the service line from the main to the property line. If the line fails due to age, materials or workmanship the town will repair or replace it.
- Responsibility for clearing obstructions in the service line from the building to the main rests with the owner/occupier. This is based on the principle whatever is in the sewer service line had to have entered through the property.
- Responsibility for clearing blockages due to tree roots is normally the owners. This is based on the principle the town does not plant trees in residential areas. In most cases it is fairly clear which tree or trees is the cause of the problem. If the source of the tree roots cannot be clearly identified or the source appears to come from another property, the town may assist.
- In all cases of sewer line obstruction, the owner is to first obtain the services of a qualified plumber. If the source of the blockage is determined to be within the town’s sphere of responsibility, the town will pay the plumbers bill.
- The town recommends the use of a rotary power snake as opposed to a tape. It does a much better job. Clearing a blockage with a tape is typically a temporary fix!
- If the town clears a sewer line and it is determined the responsibility is the property owners, charges shall be as per the town’s custom rate policy.
For more information, please refer to Policies and Bylaws.