In almost all jurisdictions, whether a big city like New York, or a small town, you as a property owner are responsible for your home sewer line problems. Let’s take the town of Oyster Bay as an example. The Oyster Bay Sewer District, established in 1926. It originally served an area of 975 acres (1.5 sq mi) with sewer mains stretching to 20 miles. Of course Oyster Bay has undergone a number of upgrades since then. Today it services around 1,700 connections with an average daily flow of 1.2 MGD. The District is run and managed by several elected commissioners and employees, with millions of dollars of annual budget.

In short, the Town of Oyster Bay, like New York City itself, is responsible for the operation of the district. However, the drain lines that connect to the pipe network owned by the town belong to individual properties is fully the responsibility of the property owner. With that in mind, you must take responsibility to maintain proper functioning of the pipe and repair or replace it if necessary when sewer line problems arise.

sewer line problems

Root infiltration is always the Property Owner’s responsibility

What Is A Sewer Lateral?

The drain pipe that runs from private property to the street is called a sewer lateral. It is more commonly referred to as a home sewer, or house sewer. Underneath the street, it connects to another big pipe called main line sewer, or public sewer. Both have more or less the same function, but the latter is government property. The sewer lateral is yours, so the town will not fix it if there is any issue with the pipe. For example, blockages, leaking, cracking, misalignment, improper pitch, etc.

The sewer lateral consists of two classifications areas. The 1st section is the drain line that stretches from building to property line. The 2nd section extends from property line to the street. In different municipalities the code and inspection process varies depending on which area where the sewer line problems are located.

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Home sewer roadway breaks are the costliest to fix

At the end of lower lateral, it makes a connection with mainline sewer. The city will not even fix the connecting point. That is because it was generally connected by a private plumber, not the local municipality. Depending on the layout of the property, and the area in general, the mainline sewer is typically located under the center of the public roadway. In some cases it can be located under the public sidewalk. Sewer line problems are much less costly to fix when the p0int of connection, or the issue, is not under the roadway.

Why Municipalities Won’t Fix Home Sewer Line Problems

One of the most compelling reasons is that fixing your sewer lateral is at your own expense is that your individual sewer connection does not benefit the general public. A home sewer lateral can only legally serve one single property lot. There may be multiple separate buildings on the one property lot. However, unless the town approves it, you cannot connect every building to a single sewer lateral. That is regardless to even if they are located in that same property lot.

The town or municipality typically requires you to connect the house sewer drain pipe to mainline sewer. Also typical is that the town or municipality is not responsible for the connection itself. It is in your interest to connect your house sewer pipe because you need to send wastewater to a treatment plant. If you do not wish to use a city-run wastewater treatment facility, the alternative is to use privately-managed sewage plant or install septic system. However in most cases where a public connection exists, it is illegal to install a septic system. Either way, you are responsible for taking care of the drain line.

When Home Sewer Work Is Needed Use A Licensed Professional

If you don’t have the required plumber license to do sewer-related works, call a licensed professional. It does not matter if you have the skills and equipment to repair a leaky, broken, or clogged drain line, you cannot legally perform the works without license and permits issued by the town’s Division of Building. Let us not forget that in the Chapter 180 of Town of Oyster Bay Code, application for permit must be made by a licensed Master Plumber as well. Otherwise it is unlawful for anyone to perform any plumbing, sewerage, or drainage work including installation and repair.

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The Balkan Drain Team has Oyster Bay covered (courtesy of google maps)

It is true that a lot of homeowners think that their sanitary sewers’ drain lines are the town’s responsibility. That may be because they are connected to municipal treatment plant. Up until the house sewer joins the main line sewer, the pipe is their property. Homeowners and property owners typcially are not legally allowed to perform any kind of work related to sewer line. Therefore the best thing to do is to call a licensed Master Plumber (or an employing one) to handle the jobs.

In the Town of Oyster Bay and Nassau County in general, you’ll be glad to find that Balkan Plumbing. Balkan is among the most experienced plumbing company’s across New York City. Their good reputation allows for constant expansion. While Balkan Plumbing has been in the industry for more than 65 years servicing Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, they have recently added a full range of services in Nassau County. Contact the Balkan Team for expert advice and professional service.

A Little Bit About The Town of Oyster Bay

Of all of the over 60 towns and villages in Nassau County, the Town of Oyster Bay is among the most populous. As of 2017 Oyster Bay had just under 300 thousand residents. The Town of Oyster Bay is on the very Eastern edge of Nassau County, bordering Suffolk County. It extends from the North Shore of Long Island to the South Shore as well. The Town of Oyster Bay contains 36 hamlets and villages. Like many areas on New York’s Long Island, a post WWII population boom resulted in what was once farmland becoming housing.