You head down to the basement one morning to grab a box of cereal, but instead, you're greeted by the sharp, unpleasant odour of raw sewage. Something is clearly not right, so you call your Edmonton plumber—and get the terrible news that your old sewer line has deteriorated and needs to be replaced. What now?

Most homeowners in Edmonton—and pretty much everywhere else, for that matter—fall somewhere between irritated and panicked when they realize they need to cover the unexpected expense of major plumbing work in order to get their home back in a livable condition. First, take a deep breath. Next, check to see if you have Edmonton sewer replacement insurance as part of your home insurance policy.

Navigating the ins and outs of sewer replacement insurance can be a challenge. This guide offers information in response to some of the most commonly asked questions about sewer replacement insurance from the team of professional Edmonton plumbers at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton.

Mr. rooter technician walking up from van.

What is Sewer Replacement Insurance?

Sewer replacement insurance, which is also referred to as service line coverage, is a type of homeowners insurance coverage that helps homeowners recoup the cost of a sewer replacement or repair up to the limit listed on their policy. This particular coverage typically applies to the outdoor portion of your sewer line or water lines, not the parts of your plumbing system that are located inside the house.

Depending on the insurance provider and how your policy is written, service line coverage may also pay for accommodations while your house is uninhabitable and cover related property damage to outdoor components such as your deck or landscaping. This should not be confused with sewer backup coverage, which applies to sewer line damage caused by a sewage backup inside your house.

Is Edmonton Sewer Replacement Insurance Included on Home Insurance Policies?

In the past, sewer line insurance was never automatically included as part of a basic home insurance policy—it had to be specifically included as additional coverage or even be on a separate policy. However, some standard home insurance policies do include service line coverage now. So, it really depends on how your specific policy was written. If you're not sure whether you have Edmonton sewer replacement insurance, the best course of action is to call your insurance broker for confirmation.

Isn't the City Responsible for Sewer Replacement If the Pipes Are Outside My House?

Actually, that's a common misconception. The City of Edmonton is responsible for maintaining the municipal underground sewer line buried under city property that carries waste to the sewage treatment plant. Any underground pipes that branch off of the main line and carry waste out of your house to the city main are part of your property, all the way to your property line. If a problem occurs with the sewer lateral lines that are connected to your house, you are responsible for maintaining, repairing, and replacing the sewer line.

What Are the Criteria for a Sewer Line Replacement Insurance Claim?

That is another question that can only be specifically answered by your insurance representative because it depends on how your particular sewer line insurance policy was written. Home insurance is typically a "named perils" policy, which means it can be claimed in the event of a loss caused by a risk that is listed on your policy—in other words, it covers named perils.

When it comes to sewer line coverage claims, the typical requirements are that a sewer line has suffered a leak, break, tear, rupture or collapse. In most cases, sewer replacement is necessary when there has been a break or collapse along a buried wastewater disposal pipe.

Remember, a claim will only proceed if it meets one of the criteria that are laid out in the insurance policy. Wanting to replace a sewer for preventative maintenance reasons will always be declined for an insurance claim, as it should. You wouldn't make a car insurance claim for preventative maintenance!

Can I Choose My Own Edmonton Plumber to Complete a Sewer Replacement?

Yes, you can. Different insurance companies do have different requirements for selecting a plumber to perform work that is covered by your policy—for example, you may be required to get three estimates from local Edmonton plumbers, but as the policyholder, you ultimately have the final say.

It's important to be cautious at this stage of the game and take your time thinking about what's really best for your property and household in Edmonton. Your insurance company has one key priority: to spend as little as possible. But as we all know, you usually get what you pay for—and plumbing is certainly no exception.

While your insurance provider will likely encourage you to go with the most rock-bottom quote, that could lead to some frustrating and even potentially dangerous situations down the road. Regardless of who is paying, you need to know that the critical work of sewer replacement is being carried out by licensed, experienced professionals who are using high-quality parts and up-to-date techniques. You also want to know that the parts and labour are warranted by a reputable guarantee like Mr. Rooter's workmanship and parts guarantee.

A major project that includes a sewer line replacement is disruptive to your household routine and can be a big source of stress. It's necessary to get it done—but you want to make sure it's handled correctly and won't cause more stress or hazards for your household for many years to come. That's why it's so important to choose a reputable, trustworthy plumber in Edmonton who you can rely on for expert service rather than whoever happens to offer the lowest price.

Can You Give Me Some Examples of an Edmonton Sewer Replacement Insurance Claim?

Sometimes it's easier to understand the types of damage that could be covered by Edmonton sewer replacement insurance if you hear a few examples of typical claims. Here are a few common scenarios in which a covered policyholder should be able to get reimbursed for their sewer replacement:

  • Property owners who live in older, established Edmonton neighbourhoods with plenty of beautiful, mature trees nearby notice that their drains don't seem to be working very well—water takes a long time to drain out of fixtures, such as sinks and bathtubs, and the toilet appears to clog almost every time it's flushed. A plumber uses video camera inspection to find out what's going on and discovers that gnarly tree roots have infiltrated a cracked pipe and are almost completely blocking off the flow of water. The sewer line needs to be replaced, and unfortunately, the tree does not survive the process. The homeowner's service line coverage pays for the cost of the replacement and also covers some additional costs to replace the tree that had to be removed.
  • A homeowner heads outside to mow their lawn on a sunny day, but the ground seems soft and squishy, and there's a distinct odour of sewer smells hovering around. When an Edmonton plumber investigates, they find that the private property is outfitted with tar paper pipe or Orangeburg pipe that is well beyond its prime and leaking wastewater into the soil. There's no way to repair tar paper pipe, so a sewer replacement is necessary. Since the homeowner has a $15,000 limit on their service line coverage, they are able to recoup the cost of the replacement along with the cost of excavation needed to access the pipes and backfill costs.

What Factors Can Affect the Cost of Edmonton Sewer Replacement Insurance?

The cost of including service line coverage on your insurance policy will, of course, vary according to a number of factors, including:

  • Which insurance provider you choose
  • Your type of coverage and its limits
  • The location of your house
  • Age of your current plumbing system
  • Type of sewage pipes your property has
  • Current condition of your plumbing system
  • Measures you have taken to reduce the likelihood that you'll need sewer replacement
  • Past claims history

That being said, service line coverage is not as costly as some homeowners assume it to be. Generally speaking, you can expect it to be under $100 per year, and it's often significantly less than that.

What Are the Signs My Property Needs Sewer Replacement?

You may think you know exactly what it would look like if you need sewer replacement—your basement in Edmonton would be flooded with nasty-smelling, hazardous raw sewage. While it's true that a sewer backup can indicate the need for sewer line replacement, there are usually many more warning signs before it gets to that point. If you’re aware of the warning signs to watch out for, you can call your Edmonton plumber for help before your basement turns into the most revolting swimming pool imaginable.

Here are some of the major warning signs that indicate you may need sewer line replacement in Edmonton:

  • Slow-Moving Drains: Everyone has encountered a clogged drain at some point in their life, and while they are irritating, they're not typically a sign of a major plumbing problem. Suppose multiple drains take a long time to drain water out of your fixtures, and you don't seem to notice obvious clogs. In that case, this is a sign that a more serious problem needs to be investigated by a professional Edmonton plumber.
  • Disgusting Smells: If you can smell sewage odours in your yard or coming from plumbing fixtures and floor drains, that's a clear indication that you've got a plumbing issue that may require sewer replacement. Even if the problem doesn't call for replacement, it still needs further investigation and repair plans by an experienced Edmonton plumber.
  • Unusual Sounds: Does your toilet gurgle or bubble when you run water in the bathroom sink? Strange noises from fixtures or one fixture reacting when you use another are issues that are typically caused by either a serious blockage or a broken pipe.
  • Wet Spots on Lawn: Are there mysterious patches of soggy grass on your lawn, even though there was no heavy rainfall? Or maybe your once-even lawn has a noticeable indent in the grass, or one part of the lawn is suddenly a lot greener and lusher than the rest. These are all signs that a buried pipe is leaking wastewater and raw sewage under your grass.
  • Sewer Backups: When there's visible raw sewage pooling in low-lying fixtures like your toilet, shower, bathtub, or floor drain, there's no doubt that's a very bad sign. It's disgusting, unsanitary and can pose a risk to the health of your family.

What Can I Do to Keep My Sewer Pipes in Good Condition?

The best way to keep your pipes in excellent shape so you can avoid needing sewer replacement for longer is to avoid letting anything go down your drain lines that aren’t supposed to be there. Those lines are really only made to handle wastewater, and in the case of toilets, human waste and toilet paper. You can't really avoid letting soap scum go down the drain, but everything else can and should be kept out of your drains.

The number one culprit by far is fat, oil and grease, which is so notorious it has its own acronym: FOG. While FOG may be liquid when you pour it down your kitchen sink drain, it coats the inside walls of your pipes and solidifies, creating a sticky mess that grabs and holds on to anything that follows it down the drain, like hair, food scraps and other debris.

When You Need Sewer Replacement, Count On the Experts at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton

Nobody wants to deal with the stress and hassle of needing a sewer replacement, but when it does happen, you want the reassurance that it's being dealt with by an experienced Edmonton plumber who is capable of getting it done efficiently and effectively—and that's the best reason to call Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton. We understand that there are lots of questions revolving around Edmonton sewer replacement. Whether you’re in Edmonton or surrounding areas like St. Albert and Sherwood Park, give us a call about any questions that you may have about plumbing repairs. We can help with sewer system backups, routine drain cleaning and everything in between.

Learn more about our reliable plumbing services in Edmonton or schedule an appointment for service, give us a call today to chat with our friendly customer service staff and get all your questions answered quickly and easily.

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