Private Sewer FAQ

Private Building Sewers – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a private building sewer?
A. A private building sewer is an underground pipe that is part of your home’s plumbing.  It conveys wastewater from your home to Clermont County’s public sanitary sewer system. If you own your home, you also own your building sewer from the end of your home’s internal plumbing to the edge of the public road right-of-way.  You are responsible for maintaining your building sewer, just like other pipes in your home.

Q. Who is responsible for the maintenance of the building sewer?
A. The property owner is responsible for all maintenance, operation, cleaning, repair and reconstruction of the private sewer from the building/house on the property to the edge of the public road right-of way.  The Clermont County Water Resources Department is responsible for the maintenance of the sewer lateral from the edge of the public road right-of-way or public sewer easement to its connection with the public sewer main, as well as the sewer main itself.

Q. What is a cleanout?
A. Many homes have sewer lateral cleanouts. A cleanout is a vertical access pipe from an underground lateral to the surface. It has a removable cap for maintenance access. Know where your sewer cleanout is in case you or your plumber needs quick access to remove a blockage or address other problems. If your home doesn’t have a cleanout, you may want to add one.

Q. Why are defective building sewers a problem?
A. Broken sewer pipes can allow tree roots or debris into the pipe, which may cause blockages, building backups, or overflows in the environment. Leaking pipes can also allow wastewater to reach groundwater, which may contribute to water pollution.

Q. Why is it important to keep rainwater from entering building sewers?
A. Defects and prohibited connections to building sewers allow rainwater and groundwater to enter Clermont County sanitary sewers. This extra water costs more to treat and it may overload the public sewer system causing overflows. Prohibited connections include roof downspouts, groundwater sump pumps, foundation drains, and drains from window wells, driveways, etc.

Q. Who can I call if I am experiencing a basement back-up or problems with the building sewer from the road right-of-way to the sewer main, or the sewer main itself?
A. If you are experiencing a basement back-up or other problems with the County maintained sewers, including the sewer main and the lateral from the edge of the road-right-of-way or public sewer easement to its connection with the main, contact the Water Resources Department at (513) 732-7970.

Q. Who can I call to help with problems with my building sewer?
A. The Clermont County General Health District maintains a list of licensed plumbers at

Q. How can I maintain my building sewer?
A. Help protect your property and the environment by following these tips:

1) Have your building sewer inspected on a regular basis to ensure it remains in good condition.  Clear any roots, grease, debris or other blockages that are found.
2) Maintain/repair your building sewer to meet regulations and area plumbing codes.
3) Remove any prohibited storm water connections, such as foundation drains, sump pumps and downspouts.
4) Do not plant trees or bushes on top of the sewer – roots from these can find their way into the sewer through small cracks, and eventually form a mass of roots which can create a blockage.
5) Do not pour grease or fats down the drain, which can also cause blockages when they cool and solidify
6) Install a cleanout to the building sewer for maintenance purposes.
7) Keep your cleanout cap on and in good shape. This keeps out rain and debris that can cause blockages, back-ups or overflows.