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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What is a sewer lateral?
  2. What is the sewer main line?
  3. Does Redwood City provide a sewer lateral (cleaning) service?
  4. What does the “public” side and the “private” side of my sewer lateral mean?
  5. Does the city fix sewer lines on private property?
  6. Do I need a permit to repair my sewer lateral?
  7. How do I get a permit?
  8. How can I get my sewer lateral repaired so I will not have anymore sewer backups?
  9. What do I do when I smell sewer odors/gases out in the street?
  10. How do I report sewage overflowing from a sewer manhole out in the street?
  11. What is a sewer cleanout?
  12. How can I tell if my home has a sewer cleanout?
  13. I cannot locate my sewer cleanout? What can I do?
  14. Can I get Redwood City to install a sewer cleanout if I do not have one?
  15. What do I have to do to get a sewer cleanout installed at my home/business?

  1. What is a sewer lateral?
    A sewer lateral is the pipe that carries the wastewater from the house to the sanitary sewer main line in the street. Every building receiving sewer service from Redwood City has at least one sewer lateral.

  2. What is the sewer main line?
    A utility pipe that carries wastewater from the connected laterals to the wastewater treatment plant (via sewer force or gravity main).

  3. Does Redwood City provide a sewer lateral (cleaning) service?
    Yes. Upon request and only to households that have sewer cleanouts located at the resident’s property line (near the sidewalk), Redwood City will provide a cleaning (snaking) service from the cleanout to the sewer main line.

  4. What does the “public” side and the “private” side of my sewer lateral mean?
    The “public” side (also called the lower lateral) of the sewer lateral is the city’s responsibility. It refers to the section of the lateral between the sewer cleanout (usually located at the resident’s property line) and the sewer main line out in the street.

    The “private” side refers to all plumbing lines that are located inside the property line from sewer cleanout to the house. The private side of the sewer lateral is the property owner’s responsibility and is not serviced by city maintenance personnel.

  5. Does the city fix sewer lines on private property?
    No. The area between the sewer cleanout and the house (owner’s side) is the responsibility of the property owner and must be repaired/serviced by the owner or designated service personnel.

  6. Do I need a permit to repair my sewer lateral?
    Yes. A permit is required to repair the sewer lateral. A city engineer will inspect the lateral to validate that the work was performed according to code. If you need guidance as to policies or procedures please contact the Engineering and Construction Division at 650-780-7380.

  7. How do I get a permit?
    Permits can be obtained at Redwood City Hall, 1017 Middlefield. They are issued by the Engineering and Construction Division. Just ask for a permit for sewer repair.

  8. How can I get my sewer lateral repaired so I will not have anymore sewer backups?
    First, request servicing by city maintenance staff. Go to the Report Problems web page and submit a report or call 650-780-7464. If the problem recurs following the maintenance services, the sewer lateral may be damaged, call 650-780-7464 and request a tv/video inspection of the lateral between the cleanout and the main line.

  9. What do I do when I smell sewer odors/gases out in the street?
    Immediately contact Public Works by calling (650) 780-7464, if calling between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or go to the Report Problems web page and submit a report. For after hours service you may call dispatch at 780-7190.

  10. How do I report sewage overflowing from a sewer manhole out in the street?
    Immediately contact Public Works by calling (650) 780-7464. After hours, call dispatch at 780-7190.

  11. What is a sewer cleanout?
    A sewer cleanout is a point of access at the property line where the sewer lateral can be serviced. It usually is 4” in diameter and has a steel or plastic cover over it.

  12. How can I tell if my home has a sewer cleanout?
    Visually inspect your front or rear yard for a sewer cleanout box.

  13. I cannot locate my sewer cleanout? What can I do?
    If you are unsuccessful in locating one, you either do not have one or it may be buried under dirt or concrete. A plumber can assist you in locating it.

  14. Can I get Redwood City to install a sewer cleanout if I do not have one?
    No. Sewer cleanouts belong to the property owner. It is the responsibility of the property owner to install a property line cleanout.

  15. What do I have to do to get a sewer cleanout installed at my home/business?
    Contact the Engineering and Construction Division at 650-780-7380 and request a permit for a sewer cleanout installation. Then hire a licensed plumbing contractor to perform the installation.

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