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When it comes to unexpected home repairs, water and sewer line issues can be some of the most expensive and inconvenient situations you can face. Such repairs often involve digging up your yard, and possibly part of the street in front of the yard. You can’t count on the local utility to pay for the fixes, because in most cases the costs fall on you, the homeowner.
Depending on the situation, you could be looking at an unexpected bill that runs at several thousand dollars. Thankfully, there are insurance and sewer line warranty options that help cover the costs of such water and sewer line disasters. Read on to discover what sort of sewer line plans are available and to see if you could benefit from them.
House Method recommends Choice Home Warranty, which offers coverage for plumbing system stoppages and optional septic system coverage. For a free quote from this top-rated home warranty provider, call 848-237-1565 or type in your zip code and answer a few questions about your home online. Read our in-depth Choice Home Warranty review for more information.
Buried beneath your lawn, there are pipes that bring clean water into your house and take out dirty water and sewage. These pipes are known as sewer and water lines, and they run from your house to the municipal water and sewer lines under the street. If you aren’t connected to the municipal sewage system, your sewage line runs to your septic tank.
Many people incorrectly assume the utility is responsible for any problems in water and sewer lines, but in reality, homeowners are responsible for the lines running through their property and into their house.
If you call the water company about an issue with your sewer line, you may be in for a surprise. For example, about 70% of the Atlanta area homeowners who report issues to the local water and sewer utility find out they are responsible for the bill, because the issue is on their property and not in the utility’s part of the lines. The Fulton Water Resources Division says its customers end up paying an average of about $1,500 to fix a water leak and $3,500 for a sewer leak.
Your homeowner’s insurance probably isn’t going to cover these kinds of problems, either, unless you purchase a special rider for your policy that covers sewer backups or similar problems. For that reason, many municipal utilities urge their customers to purchase a warranty for their water lines. A sewer warranty is a service contract that covers sewer line repairs when the issue results from normal wear in your pipes.
Do you need to worry about the water and sewer lines to your home? The answer depends on what the lines are made of and how old they are. Newer homes typically use PVC pipes, and PVC pipes are less likely to break than other pipes. Homes built in the 1960s and 1970s usually have pipes made of cast iron, which can be damaged by corrosive soils. Pipes that were laid in the decades before the 1960s are often made of more fragile materials that are prone to breakage with age.
As the local water infrastructure ages, line breaks become more common. A Utah State University study found that water main breaks rose by 27% from 2012 to 2018 in the US and Canada. For cast iron pipes, breaks were up by 43% in that period. The study noted that more than 80% of cast iron pipes are more than 50 years old.
Rae Dolan, a real estate investor and property owner in Houston, told House Method her cast iron water line failed due to age, and she ended up paying $10,000 to replace it. (That bill is particularly high due to the size of the property, but a bill in the thousands isn’t unusual.)
Luckily, not every issue with a sewer line involves a break. The Georgia Plumbers’ Trade Association reports that clogged lines often just need to be unclogged rather than replaced. Prices for unclogging a sewer line, commonly referred to as snaking the line, can vary widely, depending on issues such as access to the line, length, and the cause of the clog. Clogs can be caused by buildup of grease or rust, or by tree roots that have intruded into the pipe and are creating a blockage. Snaking a complex clog can cost $200 to $500.
Many people begin to worry about their water and sewer lines when they notice neighbors having problems and replacing their lines. If you are worried about your sewer lines, you have several options for coverage.
A home warranty can be a good way to protect yourself from the unexpected expense of a plumbing stoppage or septic issues. House Method recommends Choice Home Warranty, which offers plumbing stoppage coverage as part of both its Basic Plan and more extensive Total Plan. Choice Home Warranty also provides coverage of septic lines with its optional septic system coverage, which you can add to your home warranty.
Unlike a sewer line insurance plan, which only covers those lines, a home warranty provides coverage for many important systems and appliances that may experience problems due to normal wear and tear. A home warranty is a service contract, not insurance. If you have an issue with a covered system, such as a plumbing stoppage, you call the warranty company, which will send a qualified technician to your home to repair the covered item or system. All you have to pay is a service fee for the technician’s visit.
Choice Home Warranty’s plumbing stoppage coverage includes stoppages and clogs in the drain and sewer lines up to 100 feet from the access point, as long as there is an accessible ground level cleanout and the clog can be cleared by cable. It doesn’t cover broken lines outside the main foundation or clogs due to roots.
The optional septic system coverage includes a variety of pumps, the septic tank, and the septic line from the house.
House Method researches and reviews the best home warranty providers and compares their coverage. Choice Home Warranty offers comprehensive coverage of a broad range of appliances and home systems for a competitive price. Their plans allow you to cover all the important systems in your home, not just your water lines. The company provides two plans and optional add-ons.
Depending on which plan you choose, your costs for a Choice Home Warranty can be as low as $1 a day, making the company one of the industry’s price leaders. If you agree to pay for your annual plan up front, rather than through monthly payments, your first month is free. The service fee for covered items is $75.
Choice Home Warranty has a list of pre-screened, qualified local plumbers and technicians they call on when homeowners need service. That means you don’t have to worry about finding a plumber when your plumbing is stopped up. Choice Home Warranty also has a 24/7 call center to handle service calls and responds promptly to service requests. The company is currently expanding coverage to all 50 states.
You can read their sample agreement online, so you will have a clear picture of what you are getting, including exclusions. Remember, a home warranty is a contract, so it’s important to read it before signing up.
While water and sewer line insurance and warranty plans can provide some relief if you experience problems with your pipes, it’s best to try to prevent a backup from ever happening.
Sewage backing up into your home is more than yucky—it’s a health hazard. The sewage can lead to disease, of course, but the backup can also result in electrical malfunctions, and the damp can lead to mold. Take these steps as soon as you discover a backup in your sewer line.
The only way to be sure is to read your policy or to check with your insurance agent. Homeowner’s policies typically don’t include sewer insurance unless you specifically purchase a rider that covers sewer and water lines. You can ask your insurance agent to add such an endorsement to your policy. Most insurers, such as State Farm, offer such an endorsement.
Consult with your insurance agent. You may find that sewer backup insurance won’t cover septic issues, but you might want to get some coverage for your septic tank. Homeowner’s insurance usually doesn’t cover a septic system because it’s not considered to be part of the structure of the home, since it’s located away from the house. Some insurers offer a rider that covers septic tanks. But home insurance doesn’t cover the wear and tear that often results in septic system problems, so you might also want to look into a home warranty that includes your septic system.
Probably not. Homeowner’s insurance protects against specific disasters or accidents that occur suddenly and unexpectedly. Tree roots intruding into pipes is a slow process that’s not likely to be covered. Check your insurance documents or ask your agent if the company offers a special sewer line endorsement that covers tree roots.
*Terms and conditions apply. Be sure to review complete limits of liability and any exclusions. CHW offers service contracts which are not warranties.
**See policy for specifics on response times.
***CHW reserves the right to offer cash back in lieu of repair or replacement in the amount of CHW’s actual cost (which at times may be less than retail) to repair or replace any covered system, component or appliance.
****In the event a claim is denied, and a customer seeks to have Us review that denial, We have the right to request routine maintenance records in reviewing its decision.
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