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Investigating Sewer Back Up Claims

Wed, 30 Apr 2014
Published in Articles

When investigating claims related to sewer malfunctions, there are many questions to ask the city. There are also some questions that need to be asked of the homeowner or the business filing the claim.

Here are a few to ask the city:

  • Obtain the maintenance history on the lines related to the claimant for at least 8-12 months prior.
  • Obtain the backup history for this related line for at least 8-12 months prior to the date of the loss on record.
  • Obtain a list of all complaints to the city for back up (addresses) related to the line in question for 8-12 months prior to the date of loss.
  • Obtain a list other homes or systems that were affected during the event in question.
  • Obtain a diagram of the line and identify where the claimant’s property connects to the line. Make notes on the diagram of any other complaints received for at least 8-12 months prior to the date of loss.
  • Draw a diagram of the sewer line for at least a one block radius around the claimant’s location, where the line connects with the claimant’s property both before and after connecting with the property from the city’s line. Obtain a record of any complaints made to the city on that line.
  • Obtain all records of any recent causes of sewer back-ups in the neighborhood, block, or nearby area.
  • Did the city determine the originating source of the sewer back-up?
  • How often does the city use chemical or other means to clear out the specific line related to the claimant, and how often does the city check the line for tree root blockages or general maintenance?
  • Did the city use a camera to examine the line before and after the complaint? Request a copy of any footage obtained by the city in their assessment of the specific line in question.
  • Has the claimant reported any complaint related to the sewer line prior to this situation?

In summary, the keys to investigating and filing a sewer-related claim are:

Does the city have a scheduled Maintenance plan for their city sewer lines to check and clean out the lines? Did they follow the maintenance plan in this situation?

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they have prior notice of a problem with this line and did they reasonably investigate to determine the cause? How did they investigate? What did they do to solve the problem?

Past and present importance to a specific claim:

If any of the situations related to this general line became the responsibility of the city, such as a cracked line, interference from tree roots, etc., what did the city do to correct and when?

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