According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, sewer lines across the country average over 30 years old.  The study also found that the number of backed-up sewers in the U.S.. is increasing steadily at a rate of 3% annually.

Most people assume that their city or county water service charge helps fund these types of repairs, when in fact, municipalities are responsible for only the maintenance and repair of the city sanitation main sewer line.  If the main sewer line becomes blocked, water can back-up into homes through floor drains.

Most homeowners insurance policies only provide coverage for damage caused by overflow or discharge of installed plumbing, heating, air conditioning units, and appliances.  Most of these policies clearly EXCLUDE coverage for water damage caused by back-ups of sewers and drains.

This coverage can be added to your homeowners policy by simply asking your local independent insurance agent.  A water back-up and sump discharge or overflow endorsement can be added to your policy to provide additional coverage for sewer and drain back-ups as well as overflow and discharge from sump-pumps.

Homeowners are entirely responsible for the maintenance and repair of any sewer lateral pipes, including those portions that extend beyond the property boundary and into the street of public right of way.  Faulty or defective maintenance is excluded--claims for tree root damage can be denied under this exclusion, for example.

A few simple tips for helping reduce the risk of a sewer or drain back-up:

Dispose of cooking oil properly - when hot oil is poured directly down a drain, it eventually cools and solidifies, leading to a potential blockage over time.

Only flush bathroom tissue - bathroom tissue is specially manufactured to deteriorate rapidly, while other paper products do not break down quickly and can lead to blockage.

Ensure proper plumbing connections - NEVER connect a French drain or sump pump to your sewer sanitary lines.  A sudden rain shower could produce an influx of water all going to the same place and debris and silt from the ground water could lead to a blockage resulting in stinking sewer water in your basement!

Choose plastic - plastic PVC pipes are the most reliable way to prevent tree roots from entering your drainage and sewer systems.  Plastic piping is also less likely to collapse or break.

Keep yourself and your home stink-free by reducing your risks and buying inexpensive water back-up coverage for these smelly disasters!