Surprise! You own a sewer!
October 5, 2011 8:20 AM Subscribe
Apparently, we have a private sewer line that no one knew existed. And that line is disintegrating. Now what?
We learned last night that it is highly likely that our sewage, as well as that of at least five of our neighbors, drains into a 'private' sewer line instead of directly into the public line as we had all assumed. The existence of this line (or it's right of way) is not documented in our deed or any of the paperwork we received when we purchased the house (10+ years ago) and the line did not come up in the recent Digsafe search our neighbor had done prior to grading and leveling their lawn. Instead, her plumber was rooting out her sewage line, and the rooter/camera took a right-hand turn when everyone had expected it to go straight to the road.
It took the city a couple of tries, but they were ultimately able to say, yes, they had a record of a 'private' sewer line running parallel to our street behind the houses. They were as surprised as we were to learn that our sewage line was actually hooked into it, but the evidence of the camera doesn't lie.
To make this more exciting, the camera revealed a breach in the line about 54' feet from her house -- in a spot pretty much underneath our driveway. The plumber also believes there is at least one additional breach beyond that - in our yard.
What, if any, recourse do we have here? While we accepted that we might be responsible for repairs to sewer lines on our property, we had always been led to believe that this was just a few feet, at most. We didn't expect to have signed up for paying the cost of repair on hundreds of feet of turn-of-the-19th-century sewer lines that aren't well documented.
Should this have come up in our title search? In our deed? Been documented somewhere that we could have possibly known about it? Do I need a lawyer right now? If so, what kind? And what assistance can the lawyer possibly be?
Have you been though something like this? Do people in mid-sized cities often discover their utilities are put together significantly differently than the city thought?
Other potentially useful stuff: My home was built in 1913. The plumber believes that the sewage connection dates from no later than 1920. We do pay city water and sewer.