Action Plan for Main Sewage Line Failure Wanted

6 Replies

Does anyone have a suggested action plan in the event of a main sewage line emergency?   For older rentals this is something I would love to have a plan for, should the water ever stop draining due to a blockage/break/collapse  (or worse- a backup into the house) of an old underground main sewer line. 

I'm not even sure who I should contact first (plumber, specialty sewer line company, the city utility or permit office, exaction company etc), nor am I sure of the best course of action to reduce the inconvenience to a tenant. 

  I bet plenty of you have gone through such an ordeal and wished you had a plan in place beforehand....For those in the know, your input in having a plan in place for such an issue would be much appreciated.

You can check with the municipality to see if they have an insurance program. My city of 9,000 in Wyoming has it so I suspect it's pretty common. For a very small amount we were able to buy sewer insurance that will pay for sewer line replacement in case of a total failure. Our office building is almost 80 years old so it's just a matter of time and worth the risk. 

If the insurance program is not an option, I wouldn't suggest you do anything except set the money aside and be prepared. When you hire a plumber, they should be pulling permits and everything else for you.

Nathan G. - I'll look into such an insurance program, but I do have the funds to cover such an issue if it arises.

What does one do for the tenant?   Are they expected to "tough it out" with no running water for a few days, or is a landlord expected to pay for a hotel stay while the line is replaced?

Be proactive , pay to have a camera run down the sewer main to check its condition . if it all looks good you are fine . put a clause in your lease that the tenant is responsible for clogging the sewer line . At this point if it does back up , have the tenant call a plumber and pay for it .  If the camera shows roots or something bad , replace it before there is a problem , have them add a clean out right where it exits the house and every 40 ft there after . 

@Ryan PRice so overall process is fairly simple. Camera the line so you know the condition. It's usually best to clean the line first. If the line's in good shape (no cracks or offset joints) then do it again in 2 years. If it's still in good shape make the next one 5 years out. If you know the line's in good shape then you know the issue is something the tenant put down the line. Before that happens, find a local sewer line cleaning company that serves the investor business (hint - they aren't the ones advertising on TV). Get their number, get an account set up with them if need be. After that, it's as simple as a phone call. Make sure your lease makes the tenant responsible for the cost of addressing blockages etc. 

@Ryan PRice

1. You call your main plumber. He will hand you off to a bigger plumbing company if he has to. I suggest you start reading about plumbing systems to understand the process of replacing a main sewer line.

Keep a good plumber on hand and he is all you should need. I have been through this 3 times in my market and a good plumber always takes care of everything from permits to excavation.

Regarding the tenants, that's your call but you aren't obligated to do to much other than fix the problem and get it cleaned up.