Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Your Home - Flooding & Sewer Backups

Sewer back up is not something you want to encounter. However if you do, this post will put you in the know, so that you can do what can best help you in a ‘slimy’ situation.

Two Sewer Systems, Shared Ownership

Two sewer systems serve most communities; the storm and sanitary sewer systems. The storm sewer system collects and conveys runoff and snow melt through the storm sewer pipe system and discharges this into natural watercourses. The sanitary sewer system collets and moves domestic/industrial wastewater to public treatment facilities and eventually discharges it into the water.

Municipalities own, operate and maintain both sewer systems up to the property boundary. Homeowners own, and are responsible for, the maintenance of the sewer lines within their properties. Who has responsibility is determined by where the services connect.

Why Does Flooding Occur?

Occasionally, intense rain or rapid snow melt may overwhelm the storm sewer lines and cause surface flooding. Water may backup into the pipes that connect each home to the system, and possibly into basements. You may also experience a sewer backup from blockages or breaks in the sanitary sewer system. Blockages occur because of excess grease and food poured down the kitchen sink. This material accumulates in pipes and restricts the flow causing a backup. Breaks in the underground pipes of either system may be due to faulty installation, pipe age, digging, or invading tree roots.

What Should You Do?

A backed up sewer line is never welcome. If flooding occurs there are specific steps you need to take action as soon as possible.

Contact your municipality to investigate, at usually no charge to the owner. It is always a good idea to determine that you will not be charged, just ask.

Take precautions not to touch water that may be contaminated by sewage. Health and safety is your prime concern.

Carefully clean and disinfect all affected items and surfaces.

Report the flooding to your insurance company right away. All claims, including those involving your municipality will usually be processed through your insurance carrier. It is your responsibility to understand what your insurance policy does and does not cover.

Report to your town or city in writing. The Clerk’s Office understands the insurance reporting process and apply the sewer blockage guidelines and backup policy.

Sewer Laterals, Areas Of Responsibility

Any damage, with the exception of grease and debris build-up, to the city-owned portion of the lines will be repaired by city as quickly as possible. It is up to the homeowner to hire a contractor to repair pipes within the property boundaries the home. Most municipalities usually have available a list of designated third –party service contractors who can clear and video your sewer connection at a fixed cost. Residents are free to choose a contractor of their choice. However, your municipal body reserves the right to accept the blockage location only from a authorized contractor.

If damage to a home occurs as the result of a sewer blockage in the public part of the system, the municipal office may offer to work with the homeowner’s insurance company to determine responsibility and compensation for the homeowner’ expenses.

Depending on the severity of a backup and the related damage, you may be required to disclose when selling your property.  For a confidential consultation, you may reach me via jagdeepsingh@trebnet.com

Your connection to GTA real estate.

Jagdeep Singh, B. Arch.

Real Estate Broker