Proper Care of Your Private Sewer Line

Proper Care of Your Private Sewer Line

The good news is that your private sewer line is buried and protected from a lot of surface damage. The bad news is that since it is buried, you cannot tell when it is in need of repairs. However, you can use the following simple steps to properly care for your private sewer line:

  • Never put grease in any of your drains or your toilet. Grease should be stored in a container to let harden and then disposed of as trash. Your garbage disposal is not a substitute for trash or compost. Use it sparingly and flush with clean water for at least one minute after use. Large food scraps should be composted or place in your trash.
  • Cat litter, diapers, baby wipes, feminine products, hair, cigarettes, cotton balls, Q-tips, and tissues belong in the trash and not down the toilet or sink. Coffee grounds, eggshells and almost all kitchen scraps (except meat, cheese, bones, dairy products) can go in the compost pile or in the trash.
  • Check for sinkholes/depressions near your house, on your property, or in the boulevard/street near your home. Sinkholes/depressions typically imply that there is a void under the ground. Such a void might be due to a break in your private sewer line that is allowing soil from the surrounding ground to enter a section of your private sewer line.
  • For disposal of hazardous household materials and pharmaceutical waste, visit Ramsey County’s websites at How to dispose of hazardous household materials and Disposal of pharmaceutical waste.
  • Check for basement floor backups, slow drains, or odors. When a private sewer line emits odors through a floor drain, the cause could be a clog that is preventing flow of sewage through a section of the private sewer line.

Clogs are typically due to either tree roots protruding into and blocking a section of a private sewer line or debris introduced into the private sewer line via a broken or collapsed pipe section. Having your private sewer line cleaned and televised periodically is a good practice that can prevent expensive future sewer repairs. At a minimum, you should consider cleaning and televising if:

  • You have experienced problems with your private sewer line
  • Your private sewer line is more than fifty years old

Televising of Private Sewer Lines

To find a contractor who can clean and televise your private sewer line, you can perform your own search or call the Sewer Utility Division at 651-266-6234. Contractors who have agreed to televise private sewer lines based on the city’s Televising Specifications.

Call several contractors for quotes as prices can vary. Insist that the video produced by the televising contractor possess the following qualities:

  • Made in color
  • Has adequate lighting
  • Includes audio stating your address and date
  • Shows footages

Also request that the contractor provide you a copy of the video. If your private sewer line is in need of repairs, the video can be used by a sewer repair contractor to provide you accurate estimates for the work that has to be done.

City-licensed House Drain Contractors

Only a city-licensed House Drain Contractor (commonly referred to as private sewer contractor or private sewer repair contractor) is allowed to repair the portion of your private sewer line that falls within the city Right-of-Way. The private sewer contractor is required to obtain a sewer permit from the City’s Sewer Utility Division prior to performing the repair.

The private sewer contractor is also required to have the City’s Sewer Utility Division inspect and document the work done. To find a private sewer contractor who can repair your private sewer line, call the city’s Sewer Utility Division at 651-266-6234 or click on the link below for a list of private sewer contractors who are licensed to repair the portion of your private sewer line that falls within the city Right-of-Way: List of Licensed House Drain Contractors.

Call several private sewer contractors for quotes as prices can vary.

Saint Paul Financial Assistance Programs

Sewer Assessment Program

The Sewer Assessment Program is a financial assistance program that the city offers to property owners faced with the unexpected cost of repairing private sewer lines and/or their connection points to the city sewer mains. The city finances the repair cost upfront, and allows property owner to repay the loan through property taxes over a twenty-year period. 

If you are at least 65 or disabled, you may qualify for additional time in which to repay your loan. For more information, call the city's Real Estate Division at 651-266-8858 or visit their webpage at Deferment of Special Assessment.

Saint Paul Emergency Deferred Payment Loan

The Emergency Deferred Payment Loan is available to property owners for emergency home repairs. For more information, visit the City’s Planning & Economic Development webpage at Saint Paul Emergency Deferred Payment Loan.