Sewer Lateral Maintenance

The Conyngham/Sugarloaf Joint Municipal Authority recently administered smoke tests to inspect sewer laterals for any defects. CCTV video footage was taken of those suspected to have significant damage. If you received a letter from the Authority, in regard to your property’s lateral, please review the information on this page to better understand its contents. If not, now’s the time to educate yourself and learn how to prevent future basement backup!

What is a sewer lateral?

A sewer lateral is a pipe that carries waste water to the public sewer main located under a street, alley or easement. From there it is transported to the local sewage treatment facility. Private laterals are necessary to direct sewage from drains and toilets away from an individual’s home.

What are strategies for maintaining sewer laterals?
  • Inspect a property’s private sewer lateral upon transfer and routinely every 5-10 years after
  • Avoid planting trees and shrubs near sewer lines to avoid root infiltration
  • Keep the lateral’s cleanout cap in good condition so debris do not enter
  • Properly dispose of non-food items such as grease, oil, and coffee grounds
  • Never pour chemicals down drains to avert corroding pipes
How does a damaged sewer lateral affect you?

A damaged sewer lateral could have grave repercussions to your property and health. Harm caused can potentially be more costly than its repair. The following are said effects.


  • Sewage Backups
  • Sewer Odor
  • Mold
  • Slow Drainage
  • Foundation Cracks, Settlement, and Sinkholes
  • Waste Pooling in Yard
  • Rodents and Insects
How does a damaged sewer lateral affect your community?

Wastes are carried from a property’s sewer lateral to the public sewer main. Excess groundwater can infiltrate damaged laterals and inundate a community’s sewer treatment plant, causing failure. In addition, exfiltration from the pipe can ultimately contaminate soil and local drinking water sources. 

Who is responsible for sewer lateral repairs?

Homeowners are required to maintain and repair the private sewer lateral that runs from their property to the public sewer main. Funding does exist for those who need on-lot (septic system) and sewer service lateral repair and replacement. Please refer to the PENNVEST website for additional information.


Additional Questions?