In an older home, you expect some maintenance and repairs. So, when your sinks begin to drain slower and slower, you might think it’s because of a clog that needs to be pushed out. But many sewer lines that carry waste away from your home can be the cause, and the repair required is intensive and turns your yard into a construction site.
If you have water and sewer insurance, more commonly known as service line coverage, are sewer line repairs or replacements covered? And if so, what costs are you responsible for? Here’s what you need to know.
Why a sewer line might need to be replaced
In the mid-20th century, cast iron pipes and lead pipes were commonly used for sewer lines between a home and the city sewer line or a private septic tank. Cast iron tends to last between 50 and 100 years, after which they may corrode, become thin, or collapse internally.
Older homes might have a clay or Orangeburg pipe instead, but these materials also degrade over time. Whether you experience a blockage or you notice a bad odor from your lawn, the septic line may need to be cut out and a new section installed.
Repairing or replacing a sewer line is a messy job that carries a hefty price tag. Machinery for excavation is expensive, as are the specialized tools to cut the cast iron or clay pipe to splice in a new section.
Is pipe cutting covered by water and sewer insurance?
Your standard home insurance policy doesn’t cover water or sewer line repairs or replacement. However, if you’ve added an endorsement for service line coverage or water and sewer insurance, your repair will be covered.
It doesn’t matter if it’s due to age and deterioration or from ground swelling and shrinkage, or even if the sewer line is blocked by tree roots. If a section of the sewer line needs to be cut away and repaired or a new line run from your home, it will be covered by service line protection.
A plumbing company that specializes in sewer line repairs will excavate the pipe to expose the broken or rotten section. A snap cutter, cold chisel, or reciprocating saw with a diamond blade are tools commonly used to cut cast iron pipe before a new section is installed and the hole is backfilled.
How much do I have to pay for pipe cutting and repair?
A typical repair for a sewer line is around $5,000, most of which is for excavation. Certainly, it’s not one of the less expensive plumbing repairs your home may need when it’s between 50 and 100 years old.
If you’ve opted for service line coverage, you’ll pay your deductible to have the repair completed. Most policies have coverage limits of $10,000 per incident, although some may be higher. If your repair exceeds the coverage limit, you’ll need to pay the balance out of pocket.
Do I need service line coverage?
Whether you need service line coverage depends on your unique situation. A new home is unlikely to have service line issues but it isn’t guaranteed. A home that’s 40 years of age or older is much more likely to experience concerns with deteriorating service lines, and homeowners should take that into consideration when choosing their coverage.
Think of it this way: If you have a problem with a service line, can you afford the repair out of pocket? If you can’t, the minimal cost on your annual premium is excellent peace of mind in the event the unthinkable happens.