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A sanitary sewer lateral is a pipe that carries sanitary waste from the plumbing system in a home or business to the public sanitary sewer main. The upper sanitary sewer lateral is located on your private property while the lower sanitary sewer lateral and public sanitary sewer main is typically located in a public right of way (public streets) or a dedicated County easement located on private property. Sanitary sewer laterals are typically 4" to 6" in diameter and public sewer mains are 8" and larger in diameter.
The upper sanitary sewer lateral is an underground pipe that is part of your home’s plumbing. It is also referred to as a private sewer line or private sanitary sewer lateral. If you own your home, you also own the upper sanitary sewer lateral from the end of your home’s internal plumbing to the property line. You are responsible for maintaining your lateral, just like other pipes in your home.
Many homes have sewer lateral cleanouts. A cleanout is a vertical pipe from an underground lateral to the surface. A sewer cleanout is a point of access where the sewer lateral can be serviced. It usually is 4" in diameter and has a tight-fitting steel or plastic cap over it. If you are not successful in locating your sewer cleanout, you either do not have one or it may be buried under dirt. A plumber can assist you with locating it. If your home does not have a sewer cleanout, you may want to add one as it allows you or your plumber quick access to stop costly sewage backups into your home.
The property owner is responsible for all maintenance, operation, cleaning, repair, and reconstruction of the upper (private) sewer lateral from the building/house on the property to the property line.
Broken sewer laterals can allow tree roots or debris into the pipe, which may cause blockages, building backups, or overflows in the environment. Leaking pipes can also allow wastewater to reach groundwater, which may contribute to water pollution.
Defects and prohibited connections to private sanitary sewer laterals allow rainwater to enter Spotsylvania County’s public sewer system. This extra water costs more to treat and it may overload the public sewer system causing overflows. Improper connections include roof downspouts, groundwater sump pumps, foundation drains, and drains from window wells, driveways, etc.
Contact your insurance provider for details about coverage. Most insurance companies offer optional backup coverage on homeowner’s policies to protect your home from a potential sewer backup.