So your sewer line has backed up and a simple Roto-Rooter cleaning did not solve the problem? You might have a hefty bill on your hands if something significant is wrong with the sewer lateral. Or then again, with luck, maybe not If the issue with the sewer lateral turns out to be in a certain type of easement or the right-of-way such as an alley, sidewalk or tree-line, the City of St. Louis might cover the costs of repair.
To determine your eligibility, you’ll need to hire a licensed plumber (yes licensed) to determine the cause of the potential break in the line. The will perform a sewer scope investigation (you should be getting sewer scope inspections on all properties BTW). If they find that there is a break in the line along a “city covered” area, have them write up a ticket indicating this in addition to marking the spot in the yard where the break lies. If the break ends up being your sole responsibility you are stuck with the whole cost of the fix. Before going ahead with traditional methods of repairs, you might want to give trenchless repair a look first. Costs for such methods can be as much as 50% cheaper.
If the plumber determines the break is in the right-of-way, the next step is to call the St. Louis Citizens’ Service Bureau. Specifically, the Street Department sewer lateral desk at 314-647-3111 (x1008 ). They will help make arrangements to have the Plumbing Inspector do a site inspection. They will probably request supporting evidence such as the write-up from the plumber and pictures or video from a sewer-scope inspection, so be prepared.
Once the inspector visits the site, assuming your real estate taxes are verified as paid in full, they will then make arrangement for the repair. If the repair is considered to be an emergancy, the work will usually be tackled within a week or two. If the work is determined to not need immediate attention, however, you will be put on the “wait-list,” which could be many months long. But since you’re not footing the bill, its probably best not to look a gift horse in the mouth.