Sanitary Sewer Lateral FAQs

General FAQs about Sanitary Sewer Laterals

What is a sanitary sewer lateral?    A sanitary sewer lateral is a pipe that connects a home or commercial building to the sewer main system. This pipe is owned and maintained by the property owner. 

What do they do?  
The sewer laterals are integral parts of the sanitary sewer system. They carry away the wastewaters of bathrooms, showers, laundry rooms, and kitchens from your home and business to the sanitary sewer main. 

How do I locate my laterals?   Locating laterals can sometimes be difficult depending on the pipe material. A plumber can help.

Who is responsible for the maintenance?   
The private lateral is considered part of the home, therefore, just as the homeowner repairs the roof or windows, the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the lateral is the responsibility of the homeowner. Regular maintenance and repair is vital to ensuring the longevity of your lateral. 

Where does the homeowner’s responsibility end?   The homeowner’s responsibility ends immediately downstream in the sanitary sewer main pipe. 

What is a sanitary sewer cleanout?    A sewer cleanout is a point of access where the sewer lateral can be serviced. It is usually 4 inches in diameter and has a tight-fitting steel or plastic cap. If you are unsuccessful in locating one, you either do not have one or it may be buried under dirt or concrete. A plumber can assist you in locating it. 

How do I know if I have a sanitary sewer lateral problem?    Signs that laterals may need maintenance include slowly draining fixtures, and an odor of sewage. The best way to assess the condition of a lateral is by closed circuit television (CCTV) examination.

I have had basement backups? What should I do?   Sanitary sewer basement backups can be caused by a variety of factors. Contact the Village Water & Sewer Utilities and follow the prompts for emergencies. You may be directed to contact a plumber once the problem is diagnosed. 

Can the Village make a property owner repair laterals?    Yes. The Village can direct a property owner to make repairs to damaged laterals at any time. When road construction projects are planned, all sewer mains and laterals are assessed so repairs can be made along with construction. If repairs are needed to laterals, homeowners are notified and have the option of hiring their own contractor or having repairs made by the Village contractor. The benefit is that the cost is usually cheaper and the homeowner will not be responsible for restoration following the lateral construction. Property owners typically have the option to be part of the special assessment for the lateral repairs. 

What are some strategies for managing sewer laterals?   Property owners are encouraged to inspect their private lateral as property changes hands and then at least every 5-10 years. A contractor should be hired to correct any problems discovered.  

Do I need a permit for sewer lateral repairs?   Yes, unless the repair is being made by the Village. Contact the building inspector for details about the permit, and the allowable materials, and the requirements for inspection. 

Why are defective laterals a problem?   Broken laterals can allow tree roots or debris into the pipe which may cause blockages, building backups or overflows in the environment. Leaking pipes can also allow wastewater to reach groundwater, which may contribute to water pollution. 

Why is it important to keep rainwater from entering sanitary laterals?    This extra water costs more to treat and it may overload the public sewer system causing overflows and backups. Improper connections include roof downspouts, sump pumps, foundation drains, and drains from window wells, driveways, etc. 

How long do laterals last?  The life of a lateral can last the life of the home, if properly installed and maintained.  

FAQs Specific to Racine Street Area Construction


Is televising sewer laterals routine for the Village when reconstructing a roadway?  Yes, it’s been in existence for approximately 10 years.

How far do you need to go into people’s property to be satisfied that the lateral can connect to the main?
  If infiltration is identified beyond the property line the Village may request additional improvements.

Does repair mean replace the lateral?
  In most instances yes, but lining may be feasible if there are not offset joints and the lateral is beneath a landscaped or paved area. 

Does the lateral repair need to extend to the house?   Typically not, unless the entire length is in poor condition. The Village can require additional improvements if the issues are detrimental to the whole system.  Additional repairs are encouraged at this time to because the cost will be less as the property owner will not be required to pay for restoration of the roadway if done at a future point in time.

What if someone doesn’t have work done and then requires repair, what are the anticipated costs?  The costs varies but it can be approximately $10,000 depending on the issue.  It is less costly to repair during the time of this project because the Village has already removed the roadway pavement and will replace it, so that will not be an expense of the property owner.  

Will any water services require improvement?  None are planned.

Why is the ownership between water services and sanitary services different?  The Public Service Commission requires the Village to own the water lateral within the street right-of-way.   

Can we hire the same Village contractor to do additional work beyond the public right-of-way?  Yes. Contract with them directly. 

If we are interested in speaking with the Village contractor, when may we be able to do so regarding repairs?  Approach the contractor personnel directly. 

When will there be camera results for those residences that do not have cameras visibility at this time?  This should be available immediately following mainline repairs by April 15, 2016. .  

How do they charge for sewer lateral repairs?  There are two components of charge – lineal foot of piper and connection to the mainline sanitary sewer.   

Why is one side of Racine Street lateral repair estimated at a higher special assessment than the other?   The existing mainline sewer location does not run directly down the center of the street right-of-way, therefore the distance from the north side of Racine to the mainline is longer than that of the south side. This leads to estimated costs of approximately $1800 higher for property owners on the north side of Racine Street. 

When will we know exactly what our assessment will be?  Construction bids will be opened on February 9 at 10:00 am at Village Hall. A preliminary resolution on special assessments will be introduced at the February 22nd Village Board meeting. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for March 14. Final assessments will be known after completion of construction when actual costs are known in December 2016.

When will I have to pay the special assessment?  The special assessment will be added to the tax bill in December 2017. Property owners have the option to pay the total assessment at that time or payments over five years. The interest rate is typically ½% over the Village’s cost of borrowing, anticipated to by 2.03% for this project.