The State of Your Seattle Sewer

Seattle is a unique city known for its coffee, its technology, and, frankly, its dreariness. It’s a rainy, dark place for much of the year, although the sun does come out for parts of spring and summer. The locals are mostly used to the weather, and some take pride in sticking it out through every gloomy winter. But the climate can also pose unique challenges to Seattle’s sewer systems.

More rain generally means more strain on local drains. If you want to keep your Seattle sewer in good shape, you need to know a few things about the state of sewers in the Emerald City.

Side sewers and other issues

You’ve probably heard of a main sewer line maintained by the city. When most of us think about it, we probably think something like “Well, that’s the city’s problem, right?” Not in every case, no. In fact, Seattle has a unique side sewer problem.

In 2016, the Seattle Times reported that homeowners have to maintain side sewers, and that’s true even if said sewer lines under the sidewalk or street. The paper reported that there were 4,675 side sewer-related permits issued in 2005, a big jump from 2011. Repairs can get both expensive and gross, especially if a pipe starts backing up before the relevant property owner realizes there’s an issue. And most of these concrete pipes have a maximum lifespan of 80 years, and Seattle is about to reach a boiling point where many of its houses reach that age.

Not every buyer wants to wait for a sewer line inspection, especially in a hot real estate market like Seattle. But if you don’t get an inspection, you risk being responsible for thousands of dollars in repairs a few months or years down the line. At least in Seattle, the side sewers are more likely to clog up than the main city lines. Sewers can also be used to transport rats and other unpleasant creatures, which means you might have more than just sewage coming out of your toilet in parts of the city.

If you’ve already bought a home, you can’t exactly get in a time machine and go back. You can, however, find out if you’re responsible for any side sewers. If you are, then now’s a great time to get a sewer scope in Seattle. If you’re going to need sewer repair in Seattle, it’s better to find out sooner rather than later.

Environmentally friendly repairs

You can’t live in Seattle without being at least a little environmentally aware. Since 2012, the city banned stores from giving out plastic bags with purchases. If you want a paper bag, you have to pay five cents. You can’t even get your leftovers bagged up in plastic at local restaurants. It’s all aimed at getting people to remember their reusable bags when they head out to the grocery store or department store.

If you’re a Seattlite who supports the plastic bag ban, then you’ll be glad to know that there are also plumbing options that are designed to be more sensitive to the environment. Trenchless plumbing methods don’t require a lengthy (and pricey) excavation process, instead inserting a resin through the end of the pipe which hardens and covers any cracks or weak spots. Trenchless options are also generally safer for the workers on-site.

Fixing your pipes shouldn’t have to mean tearing up your backyard and throwing the local ecosystem off-balance. You have a lot of options when you’re looking for a Seattle plumber, so make sure you hire a crew that can repair your pipes without leaving behind a lot of collateral damage.