I’m all about using what you’ve got and taking advantage of all resources available. This includes certain “hidden” resources such as services your tax dollars pay for. In my family’s case, we recently had part of our lateral sewer line repaired, and our city paid for 90% of the work.
This past fall, while our kids were running the showers in separate bathrooms in our house, we noticed sewage seeping out of the drain in our basement floor. We cleaned it up using copious amount of bleach and called our plumber. He snaked the line to clean it out, assuming the problem was simply tree roots that had worked their way into the pipe. When his cable would not go past a certain point in the line, he ran a camera down the line and determined that a portion of our lateral sewer pipeline had collapsed.
Lateral sewer repair is costly work, ranging from $2,000 to $15,000 depending on the severity of the damage and whether the broken section of pipe runs under a sidewalk or road. Where you live matters. Many cities offer a financial assistance program to help homeowners pay for lateral sewer repairs. While there are some cities that don’t offer any assistance, several municipalities in the large metropolitan area where I live will pay between 60% to 90% of the repair costs. Some of the taxes you pay as a resident go into a fund dedicated to lateral sewer repair, and that money is there waiting for you if and when you need it.
Fortunately, I live in a city that pays for 90% of repair costs as well as 90% of the cost to have a plumber run a camera down the line to confirm the need for repairs. The city required us to get bids from three different companies (they gave a few names of contractors who frequently work with their sewer program when I asked for recommendations) and to turn in a DVD of our camera footage along with a copy of the bill for the camera work (our plumber gave us a DVD when he did the camera work, knowing we would need it to back our claim for repairs).
Within a matter of days, we had collected our three bids and the city gave us the okay to schedule work with the lowest bidder. That contractor then sent us a bill for precisely 10% of the cost of the work. Soon after that, the city sent me a nice check reimbursing me for 90% of the cost for the camera work that initially had been done.
Our repair was one of the less costly ones. The contractor bid $1,850, leaving us on the hook for just $185, plus a small cost for the camera service from the plumber. We were grateful to have the financial help, especially with the extra expenses of the holidays looming.
So, if you are facing a costly lateral sewer repair, check with your city to see if it offers financial assistance. You could save thousands of dollars by utilizing a resource few people are aware exists.
And when you don’t have raw sewage flowing into your basement, everyone is happy.