Your Sewer Pipe Failed. Now What?
Are You at Risk?
Sewage backing up into your home is hands-down one of the most revolting things you may have to deal with. It can also be one of the most expensive; a standard insurance policy won’t cover the cost of the cleanup or the damage to your house and property.
Three things that lead to sewer backups
Old sewer systems. It’s no secret that our infrastructure is aging. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that sewer lines average more than 30 years old. As more homes are connected to sewer systems, additional stress is placed on sewer lines – occasionally leading to more stress on the pipes than they can handle.
Fatbergs. Have you heard of the infamous “fatbergs” in New York and London? They form when grease and non-water-soluble debris build up into massive plugs that block city sewers. Something very similar could happen in your neighborhood as a result of neighbors pouring bacon grease or other fats that are solid at room temperature down their drains. When non-water-soluble debris such as facial wipes are flushed, you have a recipe for your very own fatberg to plug your city’s sewer pipe. The result may well be your neighborhood’s household waste backing up into your basement.
Tree roots. The trees that look great in your yard, in your neighbor’s yard, or on the sidewalk near your house have roots that can easily crush or plug the sewer pipe that leads into your home.
Tree roots are looking for nourishment – which sewer lines carry. Older pipes made of cast iron, clay, or an obsolete form of asphalt composite called “orangeberg” often have cracks or loose joints that allow the contents to seep into the soil – attracting roots that can then invade your pipe. You generally find out the hard way when you discover sewage in your basement or cellar.
Make sure you’re covered
Standard homeowners policies do not cover you for damage caused by sewage backing up into your home. The cost of cleaning and decontaminating your home and repairing or replacing any damaged personal property (such as the rugs and wall coverings in a finished basement and/or any items stored in the flooded area) will fall on you.
Cover your bases by getting a stand-alone “limited water backup and sump discharge or overflow” endorsement or homeowners coverage “package” policy that includes coverage for water and sewer backups and sump pump overflows caused by mechanical breakdowns or power failure. Consider what it would cost to have professionals clean, decontaminate, and dry the area and to replace or repair any damaged materials or possessions. Then select your coverage limits accordingly.
What to Do Now
Call us to work with an Electric Insurance Risk Coach™ to help ensure you have the homeowners coverage you need.1 Our Risk Coaches are licensed insurance professionals who are glad to help you navigate the often-perplexing world of insurance coverage. Call us at 800.342.5342, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.