Private Sewer Laterals

The Save Our Indian River Lagoon Project Plan is funding smoke testing and sewer lateral repairs in four sewer service areas: Titusville’s Osprey Basin and Brevard County’s Merritt Island, South Beaches, and Barefoot Bay Service Areas.

Smoke testing is use to quickly and affordably locate sources of groundwater and stormwater inflow into the sanitary sewer system, cross connection between sanitary sewers and storm drains, and defective sewer connections allowing sewer gases to enter a building.

Visit the Brevard County Utility Service Sewer Smoke Testing webpage for more information.

What is a private sewer lateral & how does it become defective?

A private sewer lateral is an underground pipe that connects your home’s plumbing to the public sanitary sewer system. The materials that make up the sewer lateral age over time and can become defective. Tree roots and settling of the ground can also lead to defective pipes.

What is a cleanout cap & how does it become defective?

A cleanout is a vertical pipe, extending up from the sewer lateral, with a removable cap for maintenance access by plumbers. Caps can be broken or go missing when hit by lawn equipment or vehicle.

Who is responsible for the maintenance of the private sewer lateral and cleanout cap?

The property owner is responsible for all maintenance and repair of the private sewer lateral from the building to the property line.

How do broken private sewer laterals and cleanout caps harm the Indian River Lagoon?

The Indian River Lagoon is being impacted by leaky laterals in two ways: overflows and sewage seepage. Lateral sewer lines, under normal operation, safely transport sewage from house to the sewer main. When cracked or broken, these laterals allow groundwater to penetrate into the sewer system, which overloads the system. During extreme rain events, such as Hurricane Irma, the inflowing rainwater overwhelms the public sewer system and results in overflows. Defective laterals also increase the risk of raw sewage seeping out of the pipes and into the groundwater.

Most laterals for homes built before the 1980’s consist of piping made of wood pulp and tar (Orangeburg), vitrified clay pipe, or cast iron. These pipes have a lifespan up to 50 years under ideal circumstances, but in many cases can break down much sooner. Newer laterals made of PVC can leak sewage if crushed by tree roots or vehicles. Missing or broken cleanout caps also allow rainwater to enter and flood the sewer system.

How can you maintain your private sewer lateral?

Protect your property and the environment by clearing roots, debris and other blockages within the lateral; repairing broken laterals; replacing broken cleanout caps; and removing any prohibited connections with roof and pool drains.