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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Insuring your laterals

Uploaded: Jan 28, 2015

I was going to write my blog on Steve Glazer running in the special election for State Senate, but Tim Hunt's current blog covers it very well. I shall take my time evaluating the new entrants for the March Primary and write this current blog on a more recent event ? my neighbor Sally's ruptured lateral.

Euw that sounds painful and it wasn't even insured. What and where are your laterals? I'm sure most homeowners know that the laterals are the pipes connecting the house to the water district's water pipes in the street, and the sewer district's sewer pipes.

If a leak happens in the main pipes, the sewer or water district are responsible for repairs. If a leak happens at the water meter on your property, or the section of pipe between your house and the street, the homeowner is responsible for the repairs.

When I was running for the Board of Directors of the Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) in 2010, I attended most of the Board Meetings. At one of these meetings a representative from an insurance company gave a presentation on their lateral insurance plans. Up until then I thought these were covered by my home owner's insurance policy. They are not!

As a service to customers, DSRSD offered to send information on this insurance plan with water bills. They also have a link on their website for more information.

I bought the insurance because a pipe rupture is not something I want to deal with. The way this insurance works is if there is a problem, the insurance provides a 24 hour repair hotline. So they send someone to fix it day or night, which is even better than covering the cost of repairs.

Fortunately for Sally it was the water line and not her sewer line that broke. She came over to my house to use the phone to call East Bay Municipal Utility District's (EBMUD) emergency line. She didn't have their phone number, so I looked it up online. She called them around 6 pm to come over and shut off the water.

The leak was just downstream of her water meter, which is on her property. She tried to bail out the meter box but the leak kept refilling it. I tried to find my big pipe wrench, which I know I have but couldn't find. The EBMUD guy got there around 7 pm and turned her water off.

Sally called a plumber who came out and put a patch on the leak which was about one foot on her property's side of the water meter. That emergency plumbing repair cost $500, which isn't nearly as expensive as it could have been if the whole pipe had to be replaced.

Her house and my house were built in the early '70's. So they are about 45 years old now. Sally had her house re-piped with copper about 5 or 6 years ago. I followed up and had mine done a year after her, but neither of us replaced the laterals which are antiquated and wearing out.

She just emailed me to get the name of my insurance company. I included it in this blog and in a link to the page on the DSRSD website. This is not something most people think of, but it's a good idea to do it now before your laterals start leaking.
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Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Bill, a resident of Pleasanton Heights,
on Jan 30, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Our streets laterals are going, one by one. About $4k for sewer repair under the street. Approx 50 years old on a hill.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Feb 1, 2015 at 11:52 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Bill,

Sorry to hear that. A lot of people don't realize that homeowners are responsible not only for the sewer pipe that goes through the property, but all the way to the connection to the main pipe in the street. These can be very expensive to repair. Lateral insurance covers both the home and the street portion of the sewer lateral.

The homeowner is not responsible for the street portion of the water line, only the portion from their water meter to the house. That's why the cost of sewer lateral insurance is about 50% higher than insuring the water lateral.

Roz


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