What is a side sewer? What does it do?
A side sewer connects the plumbing in a building to the public sewer in the street. It carries wastewater from a building’s sinks, toilets, and drains to the public sewer.
Side sewer ownership and care
If you own your home or building, you own your side sewer all the way to the public sewer main.
You can get specialized information (on selected parcels) within the Seattle city limits via a side sewer card, lateral map, and aerial photographs from the Seattle Department of Construction Inspection. Call (206) 684-5362 for more information.
No trash in the toilet
Side sewer problems
- Call a plumber
The clog is likely to be in your building’s side sewer. View our Repair or Replace page or printable Troubleshooting Your Sewer Problem (pdf) for tips and questions to ask.
- Call Seattle Public Utilities (206) 386-1800
If sewage is coming into your building when you are not using any water, call Seattle Public Utilities to come check the public sewer.
- Clean up after a sewage backup
Clean up sewage spills as soon as possible to protect people – especially small children – from harmful bacteria and viruses. Guides to a safe clean-up include:
- Watch a Side Sewer Saga to see how to avoid expensive backups.
Troubleshoot common sources of sewer problems
- Offset joints. Uneven connections between pipe segments can lead to sewer problems.
- Sagging pipes. If a side sewer line dips down, a backup is possible.
- Cracks and fractures in pipes. Due to poor installation, poor soil bedding, root penetration or structural deterioration.
- Debris/grease in pipes. Grease, fat, oil, wax and other debris contribute greatly to sewer problems.
- Holes in pipes. Can cause surrounding soils to erode into the pipe or cause debris buildup in the pipe.
- Root damage. Tree roots can penetrate older clay and concrete pipes.
- Exposed aggregate. Most common critical defect in side sewers constructed from concrete.
Inspect and repair a side sewer
- Have someone take a look
Look in the Yellow Pages under Plumbing, Drains and Sewer Cleaning or search online for Sewer Inspection to find contractors who can run a video camera through the side sewer.
- Make a repair
If you need to repair your side sewer, you will need a side sewer permit from the City of Seattle to complete this work.
- Money for repairs
The Seattle Office of Housing offers Home Repair Loans for low- to moderate-income families in owner-occupied, single family homes.