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CityLink Seattle

Don’t Let Your Side Sewer Hit Your Pocketbook

Homeowners and building owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing their side sewer, a section of pipe that carries wastewater from your home or building’s plumbing system to the public sewer main (usually located under the street). As the property owner, you are responsible for replacing any sidewalks and roadway removed during the repair, potentially costing thousands of dollars.

Maintenance is important. The primary problem associated with side sewers is sewer backups into homes or businesses. Some causes and solutions include: 

  • Tree root penetrating pipes, especially older ones made of clay. Rooter services can unclog a side sewer.
  • Fats, oils and grease improperly disposed of down drains also cause blockages. Instead, they should be properly disposed of in a sealed container in your trash.

When there is a problem it is best to call a private company first, such as a rooter service or plumber, because the problem is likely in your private side sewer line and critical time may be wasted contacting the city. However, if sewage is coming into your home when you are not using water, you should call for a Seattle Public Utilities’ maintenance crew immediately at (206) 386-1800.

For a limited time, moderate-income Seattle homeowners may qualify for a zero interest loan from the Seattle Office of Housing’s rehab loan program that may be used to address side sewer problems.  For information about the program or to request an application, email  homerepairloan@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-0458.