Connecting to City Sewer Line
Homes that are serviced with a private septic system may have the option or may get the opportunity in future, to connect up with city sewer lines that are constructed by the local municipality up to the property’s boundary line.
There are a number of reasons why municipalities expand their sewer lines out to service properties currently serviced by septic systems.
These include growing communities, smaller lots and larger homes stressing existing septic systems, which do not have the capacity to cope, as well as small properties with ageing septic systems, which do not have the space to install a functional backup solution for failing systems.
When septic systems are put under pressure and become strained, environmental contamination can result, particularly around water bodies, posing both an environmental and public health hazard.
Consequently, should sewage disposal issues arise, further development plans may be halted until these issues are resolved, which can further add to a property owner’s woes?
When problems such as these arise, homeowners often pressure the city to create infrastructure for better sewage disposal.
Although in certain cases, particularly when sewage disposal poses an environmental and/or health risk, a city may make the decision to extend the sewer network to service these areas without pressure from homeowners.
However, while these sewer lines are provided by the local municipality, the individual property owner is responsible for connecting the homes existing pipes, drains and plumbing to the municipal sewer system via a sewer mainline.
Once connected, you will also be responsible for the maintenance of the connecting main line between your home and the municipal connection point on your property’s boundary line.
Sewer Line Connection for Single-residential Homes
In order to connect your home to the local municipal sewer line you will need to meet certain criteria:
- There must be an existing municipal sewer line running along at least one side of your property;
- The municipal sewer line must have the capacity to cope with the volume of wastewater your household generates; and,
- Your property must fall within the local municipality’s urban limits and local sewage disposal area.
How to Find an Existing Municipal Sewer Line Connection
There are several ways of finding the sewer line connection for your property.
The most obvious would be to look for the sewer line lid or cap at the entrance to your driveway or on the lawn at the verge of your property that lies adjacent to the road.
Your sewer line connection lies under this lid/cap. If your municipal sewer system caters for sanitary waste and drainage disposal, there will be a red cap (sanitary wastewater service) and a green cap (stormwater drainage service).
If you live in an older home, the sewer line connection may not be covered with a lid or cap; it may also be buried underneath your driveway or garden landscaping.
If you have difficulty locating the sewer line connection you can check online to see whether your city offers an online mapping tool that will help you locate it. Alternatively, you can contact your municipality’s engineering department to see whether they can assist.
However, if your sewer line connection is located on your property rather than on the boundary line, it is unlikely that the municipality will be able to help you as they typically don’t have records of service connections on private property.
In which case, you will need to hire the services of a plumber to find the sewer line connection located between your home and your property boundary line.
Municipal Sewer Line Extensions
If your area is not currently serviced by a municipal sewer line, you and your neighbours can petition your municipality to extend its sanitary network to include your area.
Your local municipality may consider extending the sewer line to your neighbourhood if sufficient homeowners have signed and submitted a petition requesting such a service.
The affected homeowner/s (in some cases this may be a property developer) is prepared to contribute towards covering the costs associated with sewer line extension, and the area in question falls within the municipality’s jurisdiction.
Sewer Line Installation Costs
In order to connect up with the city sewer line, you will need to install a sewer main line that connects your home to the municipal sewer line that runs past the border of your property.
Since property owners are responsible for improvements on their property, these costs will be for the owner’s account.
The cost of this installation can vary greatly, depending on the distance between your home and the municipal sewer line, which will obviously affect the length of the main sewer line required and by extension, the work and materials required to get the job done.
The cost of installing a new main sewer line typically costs around $2,500-$2,900 on average but can range anywhere between $1,300 and $4,700. However, connecting an existing septic system to the municipal sewer line tends to be more expensive, with costs typically ranging from $3,000-$8,500 (averaging around $5,700) for the conversion.
Factors That Can Affect Sewer Hook-Up Cost
There are several factors that can influence the cost of the sewer line installation, including:
- Length of sewer line — costs of sewer piping, plus labour to install the pipes.
- Trenching — the cost of digging the trench to install the sewer pipes will depend on length and depth required, as well as whether any landscaping, trees, hard/paved surfaces or other obstacles need to be removed beforehand.
- Backflow prevention — installing a backflow preventer will ensure wastewater flows towards the municipal sewer line and prevent it from back flowing towards the home.
- Sewer cleanout — installing a sewer cleanout point will give plumbers easy access to the sewer line to unblock clogged pipes in the future.
- Cost of hooking up to the municipal sewer line — this includes the cost of permits required to connect to the city sewer line, which you will need to get before commencing work on the project.
- Cleanup, landscaping and repaving costs — costs of cleaning up the area as well as the cost of sodding grass, replanting any vegetation/trees that were removed, and/or repaving driveways/pathways or other hard surfaces that may have been removed for the job.
Sewer Line Connection Fees
Once your contractor has installed the main line, you may have to fork out more hard-earned dollars to hook up with the municipal sewer line. The cost of connecting to the municipal sewer line is typically borne by the owner of the property, even if the property has an existing sewer connection. Some municipalities cover a portion of this connection cost, but many don’t. These costs can range from around $3,000 to as much as $15,000 or more. To get a more accurate cost estimate for your property, you would need to contact your municipality.
Cost of Converting from a Septic System to Sewer Line
The costs associated with switching from a septic system to a municipal sewer line is higher than a normal installation because over and above the cost of laying the main line and connecting to the municipal sewer line, the homeowner also needs to cover the cost of having the septic tank decommissioned.
In some cases this conversion may also require rerouting wastewater pipelines or installing new pipes within the home, and/or trenches to be excavated under existing foundations, driving up costs further still.
Decommissioning a Septic Tank
If you are no longer going to be needing/using your septic tank it will need to be decommissioned, which can cost from $500-$1,000.
Decommissioning a septic system is a job that needs to be done correctly to prevent damage to your property. This usually involves flushing the septic tank out, then filling it up with sand (or other stable material).
The tank can be removed from the property, but as this can damage garden landscaping, filling it in and leaving it in the ground is by far the easier option.
If you feel that your septic system has come to the end of its useful life and now might be the time to connect your home to your city’s sewer line, you may be considering this as a future DIY project.
However, because this is no simple feat, but rather a complex project where lots could go wrong, we strongly recommend you hire the services of a professional who can not only help with the necessary permitting but will also ensure the project runs smoothly without any impending disasters.
Since sewage management can ultimately affect both your family’s health and that of your surrounding environment and even the value of your home, it is imperative that all work is carried out by a licensed professional.
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