The Trials and Tribulations of Sewers


There’s insurance for that! The tale of an inconvenient lead pipe.

Written by Zoe Fox

In a city as old and full of history as Philadelphia you can imagine what creepy things lurk beneath our streets and sidewalks. Artifacts, bones, bricks, roots, bottles, sewers, water mains and gas lines and other under-worldly things. As a homeowner you probably want to make yourself aware of your water and sewer situation because when they stop working it’s a real bummer! Learn from me, save yourself some heartache, do the grown-up thing and get insurance for that!

Two weeks ago, I discovered a leak coming from the main line that enters my house and sprouting a little fountain onto the tile into my finished basement-ahh!!! Of course, the leak had sprung just below the shut off valve at the water meter so there was nothing I could do to stop it except for put out buckets and towels until my favorite plumber was able to rush out and shut it off at the curb. The leak stopped but they confirmed my suspicion that the old lead service line had finally given out and we would need to replace the whole thing. Zero point in trying to patch up lead pipes, just get rid of them! We’ve known that the pipe was lead and we would eventually have to replace it, we just didn’t take care of it because life.  Then that stupid old pipe forced us out of our house for 10 days until it could be dealt with.



Here’s what I learned, hopefully it can save someone else.

  1. Get water and sewer insurance from the City, it costs less than $100 a year ($7.98 a month!!) and offers UNLIMITED coverage on both your water and sewer lines. WAY BETTER than having to shell out thousands of dollars to make your home habitable again!

    More info to sign up for the program here:

    Many people don’t know that they are responsible for the water and sewer line from the street leading into their home and the City is responsible for the main and the lines in the street. They can be costly to replace depending on how much digging is required.

  2. Contact your homeowner’s insurance company for any major damage. Our policy only covers the damage done to the walls, trim and personal items that were soaked by the leak and dry-out services if we needed it. They consider the old lead line to be a maintenance item since it was old, corroded and a probably known issue-- thus it’s not covered. There’s also a good chance that the minor repair work needed won’t be covered if it’s under our deductible. BOO! But live and learn and be aware of your coverage.

  3. Keep everything in your basement in plastic bins, cardboard is not your friend.

If you need a plumber recommendation, or just someone to talk to about the tribulations and joys of homeownership, we’re here for you.