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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Sewer backup damage

Updated: Friday, January 30 2015, 09:18 AM EST
ALEXANDRIA, Ky. (Howard Ain) -- Sewer backup problems happen just about everywhere throughout the Greater Cincinnati area. They can cause major damage,  not only to your home but your belongings as well. Unless you protect yourself, you could be stuck with huge cleanup bills. That's what happened at Karla Kramer's Alexandria home.

Karla Kramer came home to weird smell and went downstairs and noticed some puddles. It turns out the basement was flooded with several inches of sewer water. "The water was actually gushing up through here."
Karla and her husband, Daniel, called in a plumber who determined although their sewer line to the street was clear, the sanitation district's main line was clogged up. "Here was deep tree roots that had grown through the lines. So it was blocking? Blocking yes, the lines."
In addition to replacing the tile and the carpet in the basement, they also had to replace all the drywall down here because it all got flooded with sewer water.
Workers from Northern Kentucky Sanitation District Number One, known as SD1, came out and fixed the sewer lines, but won't pay for the damage. "they came out and said yes it was definitely their fault but since they didn't actually know it was there they were not at fault."
Fortunately, the Kramers have sewer backup insurance, but only $5,000 coverage. They have more than $12,000 damage. SD1 executive director Dave Rager says while such backups are unfortunate they do happen. "It's not common that it happens in our system. We try to keep up with the system but they do happen which is part of the reason why so many utilities are owned by government is the challenge of maintaining systems like this."

Now, Rager says, the district be checking the lines in Kramer's neighborhood every six months to make sure they remain clear. But, unlike homeowners in the Metropolitan Sewer District area, SD1's federal court decree doesn't require it to pay for undetected sewer line problems. "We have 1,700 miles of lines. That's almost enough to go from coast to coast."

As a result, the Kramers have now increased their sewer backup insurance coverage, and it's something Howard urges all homeowners to consider, especially those with a finished basement.

The Metropolitan Sewer District is the only district around here that will pay for sewer backup cleanup and, in some cases, damage as well. Everyone else is on their own.

Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Sewer backup damage

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