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Public Utilities

Your Sewer Plumbing System

sewer lateralsThe sewerage system for a home or property is connected to the City sewer main through a sewer lateral. The property owner is responsible for the maintenance of that lateral from the property all the way to the connection with the sewer main. This connection may be in the street, past the property line; on an easement; or in a canyon. Usually, after clearing the lateral, a licensed plumber will assess the condition of the pipe by televising it. If the pipe has a break or a crack, the homeowner must repair the portion of the pipe that lies between the house and the property line.

If the plumber finds a break-in or collapse of the lateral beyond the property line, the licensed plumber should call the City's Sewer Emergency Line at 619-515-3525 to file a Plumber's Report. The City will investigate within 24 hours.

If you are planning on buying a home, in addition to the Home Inspection specialist who will look at the property in question, it is a good idea to also get a report on the condition of the house's lateral connection by a licensed plumber.

The leading causes of public sewer spills, roots and cooking grease, are also the leading causes of lateral spills on private properties. Maintaining your sewer lateral, keeping it clean and open, can save you a great deal of money in plumbing and cleaning bills, and eliminate the aggravation a sewage backup will cause.

Keeping your sewer lateral in good shape

Keeping your sewer lateral in good condition is important as it helps prevent sewer spills and costly repairs.

  • Never pour cooking grease down the drain. Freeze it in a suitable non-recyclable container and dispose of it in the trash.
  • Recycle large amounts of residential cooking oil or grease by disposing of it at the Miramar Landfill Recycling Center.
  • If any cooking oil or grease gets in your drain, immediately flush the drain with cold water.
  • Never flush non-soluble objects down your toilet. This includes food, tampons, sanitary napkins, cleaning rags, diaper wipes, etc.
  • If you are having problems with roots infiltrating your sewer lateral, use one of the commercially available rooticides available at most home improvement stores.
  • If you have a property cleanout, flush your lateral through the cleanout using a high-pressure hose at least once a year.
  • Be sure to use a licensed plumber when having your sewer lateral televised or repaired.


Related Information

  • Sewer Construction and Development - Information about permits and fees, design guidelines and standards, approved materials list and more.
  • GIS Information (Maps and Records) - The City's Development Services Department has records showing when your water line was installed and can provide a map showing where your sewer lateral connects to the City's sewer main. You can schedule an appointment to review the records by calling 619-446-5300. However, the City does not have diagrams or other information regarding where sewer lines are located on your property. For that information, you may want to contact a licensed plumber.
  • Service Line Warranties (preferred service line warranty partner of the City of San Diego)
  • Your Water Plumbing System