Keep ‘FOGG” Out of Sewer Pipes
Courtesy of John Swygert, Home Inspectors of Middle Tennessee
June 2014, Home Tip of the Month
How can homeowners protect themselves against costly repairs to water and sewer lines? There are a number of ways, including taking deliberate steps to safeguard these critical home components.
And there are good reasons to do so. Even though problems with water and sewer lines are infrequent, they do occur. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t realize that in general, they are responsible for the condition of water and sewer lines connecting the home to the public water and sewage systems. A city or town’s liability for the system typically ends at the street.
The cost of physically repairing or replacing a broken water or sewage line can start at $1,000 and is often around the $2,000 range. But depending on the problem, the costs can go much higher. And there are additional costs to fixing the problem – such as repair of driveways, sidewalks and landscaping after the pipes are repaired or replaced.
Many companies offer water and sewer line protection insurance, and this type of insurance does bear some consideration. There are exceptions which affect these policies, however, such as “pre-existing conditions” that can make claims adjustments difficult to navigate. These policies also typically have recovery caps. Depending on the benefits offered, policy prices start at around $15 per month.
There are things homeowners can do to keep water and sewer pipes flowing smoothly, however. First, water and sewer lines inside the home can be inspected regularly for any signs of leaks. And homeowners should always check with water and utility companies before doing and deep digging in the yard.
Sewer utility companies also recommend keeping pipes clear of FOGG (fat, oil, grease and grit). These substances do not dissolve in water, but stick to pipes, creating layers of build-up that restrict waste-water flow. Frequent pipe-cleaning can lead to pipe damage, and eventually lead to the necessity of replacing pipes.
To keep such problems to a minimum, fat, oil, grease, and grit should never be poured down the drain, but rather stored in a container, such as an empty glass jar or coffee can. Keep the container in the refrigerator to solidify the contents and when taking out the trash, the contents can be scraped out into the garbage bag.
Other substances that should never be allowed to wash into sewer system pipes include construction debris such as ground-up cement, plaster, shingles, plastic or wood. These items get into manholes and lines either accidentally, or at times by being dumped intentionally and illegally.
Source: John Swygert, Home Inspectors of Middle Tennessee
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