Storm drain connected to a sewerHow to Determine if a Public Sewer Service is Available for a Property or Building

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This article explains how to determine if a public sewer line is available at a given property or building. Previously in this article on how to determine if a building is connected to a public sewer or to a private septic tank we explained what basic questions to ask. Continuing here, we find out if a public sewer line is available at all at a property. If no one knows, this is the first question to settle. If a public sewer is present the building may or may not be connected to it. But if no sewer is available at a property then a buyer needs to use different, and more involved and detailed investigative steps to find and check out the septic tank and drainfield.

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These clues suggest that a public or community sewer system is or is not present at a building

  1. Municipal building department: This data is normally recorded with the town, village, or other municipality in which the home is located. Ask your town or village building department if your street and the homes on it are connected to a sewer.

  2. Ask your neighbors about sewer lines or septic tanks: occupants of any neighborhood have a vital interest in local handling of waste and wastewater. Even if you or a realtor or attorney don't know if a sewer line is present or if homes have been connected, and even if there is no prior owner available to ask about your particular building, your neighbors are likely to know about their own buildings.

  3. Age of the sewer: If a sewer system is present, ask when it was installed so that you can compare that with the age of the building or home you are buying.

  4. Sewage system mahole cover

    : Also if you see large manholes in the street, especially if the lid says “SEWER” then a local sewer is probably present.

    Our photo shows a sewer main access cover.

    The fact that the cover projects above the level of the pavement tells us that this is a pretty new system and that final street paving is probably incomplete.

  5. Storm drain connected to a sewer
    Storm Drains
    : If you see storm drains like this one in the street, a local sewer main may be located there as well.

    But be careful! In some communities the storm drain system is separate and distinct from the sewer piping system.

    However it would be odd for any community to go to the expense of installing a storm drainage system without also installing a sewer system.

  6. Municipal lift station sewer pumping station

    Sewage Pumping stations
    : If the home or street is downhill from or lower than a local sewer main, a home or neighborhood pumping station (municipal lift station) will be somewhere nearby. Pumping Stations describes sewer system pumping stations.

    We are referring to a large public pumping station not an individual private pumping system serving just the building you are concerned about.

    A sewage grinder pump or pumping system installed at or in the individual building does not tell us whether the pump is sending waste up to a public sewer main or waste out to a private septic system that happens to be higher than the building main drain.


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