Who is Responsible for Sewer Pipes On Property in NJ

What part of the sewer line is the city responsible for in NJ?

Sewer line responsibility nj depends on the city code for sewer/sewage plumbing services in your town, but most nj towns have similar structures.

The town maintains a public sewer main which typically runs underground down the public right of way, the street.  Each piece of private property has a sewer lateral that runs underground from the structure and connects to the public sewer main in the street.

The city is responsible for maintaining the public sewer main in the street and the private homeowner is responsible for maintaining his sewer lateral and his connection to the city sewer main.

Public or town sewer line responsibility infographic

Sewer Line Responsibility

The Sewer Pipe from House to Street

city responsibility to sewer repair or replacement

When is the city responsible for sewer lines?

The city/town or public sewer company is responsible for any sewer clog or sewer line repair needed to the sewer main.

If the sewer main has backed up you can call your town’s sewage authority for repair.

The town has a crew that will come out to investigate if the sewage backup is from the portion of the sewer line system that the town is responsible for.  If they find that the town sewer system is running smoothly and the problem is not in the town sewer system they will tell you to call a sewer contractor and check the sewer lines on your property.

Who is responsible for sewer issues?

The town is constantly doing work on their sewer main lines including year round sewer cleaning, sewer inspection and sewer repair:

  • Sewer cleaning: Sewer main facilities are cleaned on a cycle with trucks that are equipped with a vacuum system used to suck debris and wash out the sewer lines.
  • Sewer inspections: Sewer inspections are done regularly to assess the condition of the pipes by video of the sewer main, dye tests or by physically entering the system for visual inspection of sewer pipes.
  • Sewer repair or replacement: sewer repair can involve excavation, shoring up sewer supports, replacing pipes replacing pipe joint connections and fittings or trenchless relining.

Lateral sewer service lines running from private property into the main sewer system are not checked or maintained by the city.

Who is responsible for sewer line repair in NJ?

Identifying sewer line responsibility

Sketch of house property map including the sidewalk and street that identifies responsibility between the City and property owner.

The location or source of the sewer problem will determine who pays for the sewer line repair. The property owner is responsible for the sewer line coming from the house to the curb.

Infographic of homeowner sewer line responsibility in NJ

Problem in lateral sewer lines in New Jersey?

For most of NJ plumbing, sewers are out of sight and out of mind when a problem like a sewer back up arises. It’s important to know your home’s plumbing system and understand the responsibilities of being a homeowner.  Sewer backups are most often caused by problems in the private plumbing or building sewer.  A building sewer is a private sewer pipe that connects your home’s plumbing to the public sewer system, it carries the wastewater from your sinks tubs and toilets away from your home and takes it to the public sewer.

Sometimes the terminology can be confusing: a building sewer may also be called a house tap, a sewer lateral line or even a sewer mainline by your plumber.

Part of your building sewer lies within the boundaries of your property and part of it lies within the public right of way.  The public right of way is land used for public purposes, such as streets sidewalks and utilities.  If you own a building then you also own the building sewer, part of your responsibility for home maintenance includes keeping your building sewer pipe open, clear and in good repair.

Service Line Responsibilities

The leading causes of problems in building sewers are clogs or blockages, and broken or collapse pipes.  Clogs in building sewers are commonly caused by a tree root, grease or objects which block sewage flowing through.   Sometimes building sewers break or collapse due to age or deterioration, blocking the sewage from flowing through.  Any of these can result in sewer backups.  Clogs and breaks can occur anywhere along the length of the building sewer pipe, inside the building, under the house or at any spot along the way to the point where the building’s sewer pipe connects to the main public sewer.

Who was responsible for fixing problems that occur in your building sewer pipe?

The answer depends on where the problem is: if you’re building sewer becomes clogged by an internal blockage you are responsible for clearing out the pipe.   When the sewer pipe blockage is outside your home, it depends on whether the pipe damage is somewhere within your property boundaries or somewhere within the public right of way.  It may be necessary to hire a plumber or sewer cleaner to do a sewer inspection for you and find the broken pipe.  If the broken pipe lies within the boundaries of your property you are responsible for repairing the pipe.  The town will not fix a broken building sewer pipe on your property.  It is usually necessary to hire a plumbing contractor to make this type of repair.  If you’re building sewer pipe breaks or collapses at a point of the pipe that lies within the public right of way the town will make the necessary repairs for reasons of public safety.

Keeping your building sewer pipe open clear and in good repair is your responsibility.  Understanding your responsibilities as a homeowner enables you to take steps to reduce your risk of backup and the cost of sewer repairs.

Responsibility for sewer repair

The property owner is responsible for maintaining the sewer lateral running from his home to the street and any problem with this sewer line lateral will be the responsibility of the homeowner.  A problem with the sewer main system in the public right-of-way, under the street, is the responsibility of the city.

The sewer lateral is a common place for pipe leaks or pipe breaks but it is the responsibility of the private property owner to install, maintain, repair and replace these sewer lines.

If you have a sewer line problem and the city has said it is coming from your sewer lateral contact A1 for a sewer inspection.

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Responsibility for tree roots in sewer

If you have tree roots in sewer line in nj contact A1 to discuss your options for removing the tree roots from the sewer line.

  • tree roots in sewer line responsibility nj? Any damage to the sewer line on your property is the responsibility of the homeowner.
  • tree roots in sewer line covered by insurance?  homeowner’s insurance typically does not offer any coverage for sewer line repair or replacement
  • what if neighbors tree roots damaging my sewer line? If a neighbor’s tree roots grow into your sewer line and break a pipe your neighbor may have liability but cases in nj involving damage caused by a neighboring property’s tree roots have been decided both ways depending on the circumstances.
sewer responsibility in NJ

Responsibility for sewer replacement in NJ

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Sewer repair responsibility in NJ



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