If the sewer problem is found to be in the upper sewer lateral (JPEG) (between the building and cleanout at the property line), the property owner is responsible for repair and can hire a plumbing contractor or make the repairs themselves. Contractors are listed in the yellow pages of the phone book under "Plumbing Drain and Sewer Cleaning" or "Sewer Contractors." If you plan to hire a contractor, we recommend getting estimates from more than one company.
Before doing any work on a sewer line, including installing a cleanout, you need to obtain an Inspection Permit from the Napa Sanitation District. More information on how to get a permit is available by calling us at 707-258-6000. Cleaning a lateral line through an existing cleanout does not require a permit. Once you are aware of a sewer lateral problem, it should be repaired as soon as possible. Sewer laterals that leak or overflow are a public health risk and may cause damage to the environment.
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Napa Sanitation Department (NSD) maintains all public sewer mains, and lower laterals within its service area (PDF), which includes the City of Napa and certain surrounding unincorporated areas. This includes 270 miles of sewer mainline that are generally located within public streets or easements dedicated for Napa Sanitation District use.
Each residential or commercial building has a separate connection to the public sewer main line which is called a sewer lateral. Each sewer lateral has two components:
The Sewer Mainlines and Laterals diagram (JPEG) illustrates the difference between the property owner’s sewer lateral and the District’s lower lateral and sewer main lines.
It is the property owner's responsibility to maintain and repair the upper sewer lateral from the house to the property line cleanout (indicated in yellow in the linked diagram). Napa Sanitation District maintains the lower sewer lateral and main line (indicated in green in the linked diagram). The cleanout is typically located behind the property line and is the connection point between the upper and lower lateral. This cleanout is designed to go one direction (downstream) and cannot be used by homeowners or plumbers to clean the upper lateral. The cap on this cleanout is designed to fit loosely, allowing it to come off in the event of a backup in the lower lateral or sewer main.
An exception to this division of ownership is in areas where pipes were slip-lined by the District and the cleanout at the property line was removed. In that case, the District maintains the lateral all the way to the cleanout near the building. Unsure if your property falls into this category? Call the District at 707-258-6000.
When a sewer backup or other problem occurs, call the Napa Sanitation District at 707-258-6000, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and a Napa Sanitation District (NSD) crew member will come out and inspect the public sewer main and lower lateral, free of charge. In many cases it will not be obvious whether the property owner or NSD is responsible for the problem. If the problem is in the District’s portion of the sewer system (PDF), we’ll repair the problem as soon as possible. If the District’s sewer line is clear, the property owner will be informed that the blockage is probably in the upper sewer lateral. In this case, the property owner is responsible for maintenance or repair and may still need to call a plumber.
When trying to locate a sewer problem, never open manholes or other NSD structures. Due to potential hazards, only NSD personnel are authorized to open and inspect these structures.
If this problem occurs, stop using water immediately. If you are not using your household water outlets, there may be a problem in the public sewer main. Call 707-258-6000, ext. 9 to request emergency service.
Overflow devices (clean-outs) are usually located at the property line (approximately 10 to 12 feet from the curb) and near the building. There is a 4-inch cap on top of the vertical pipe that should be left on loosely. The purpose of the clean-out is to allow sewage from a plugged sewer line to overflow outside instead of inside the building, as well as provide access for cleaning. If sewage is flowing from a clean-out, call 707-258-6000, ext. 9 to request emergency service.
Manhole structures are usually located in the middle of the street and also provide access for cleaning and pipe inspection. Napa Sanitation District (NSD) manhole structures are marked with "NSD" or "Sanitary Sewer" on top. If sewage is coming up through an NSD manhole, call 707-258-6000, ext. 9 for emergency service.
Storm drains collect and carry rainwater and other outdoor runoff from the street directly to a creek or the river. Water carried in the storm drain system does not flow to the wastewater treatment plant for treatment. Storm drains are located under curb openings in the gutter. They are usually covered with a grate or slotted piece of metal. Some solid round covers are marked with "S" or "Storm Drain." The City of Napa Department of Public Works is responsible for problems with storm drains and can be reached at 707-257-9520.
The first thing to do is to contact the Napa Sanitation District (NSD) at 707-258-6000, ext. 9. An NSD crewmember will come to your house to determine if the problem is the responsibility of NSD or the property owner. If the problem is in our line, we’ll take care of it immediately. If NSD crews discover that the problem is in the property owner’s lateral sewer line or plumbing fixtures, you may need to make repairs yourself or call a plumber.
No; this is why we encourage homeowners to contact Napa Sanitation District (NSD) first at 707-258-6000, ext. 9 when a sewer problem occurs. NSD crewmembers can determine who is responsible for the maintenance or repair prior to repairs being made. If the problem is in NSD’s portion (PDF) of the sewer, we’ll repair it. However, if the problem is in the property owner’s portion of the sewer line, a plumber may still be necessary. Call us first!
When digging to make sewer line repairs or for construction, it is important to know where other utilities are located to avoid damaging lines. Napa Sanitation District (NSD) belongs to a utility line locating service called Underground Service Alert (USA). Whenever a call is made to USA at 800-227-2600, NSD is notified and will come out, free of charge, to mark the location of our utility lines. Call first; it’s the law!
Please note that NSD only marks the portion of the sewer system that is our responsibility. We do not mark the portion of the lateral that is the property owner’s responsibility.
The District repairs broken lateral sewer connections to mains and sewer mains that are broken by private contractors or utilities (PG&E, plumbers, etc). The contractor or utility is responsible for notifying the District immediately, but if they do not, residents should call Napa Sanitation District at 707-258-6000. Please be prepared to provide the address or location so that a crew can be dispatched to make repairs.
The District has a Sewer Maintenance Scheduling System and can provide historical information to property owners or realtors on sewer lines serving homes and businesses. The Sewer Maintenance Scheduling System provides information about the last time a particular sewer line was cleaned and the frequency of the cleaning schedule. Call the District at 707-258-6000 for more information.
NSD has two main types of sewer access structures:
Both structures have solid covers and are normally imprinted on top with "NSD” or “Sewer." Occasionally, there may be a separation between the base and the cover of the manhole or rodding inlet, causing the cover to rattle when a vehicle drives over it. To report a rattling manhole or rodding inlet cover, call the District at 707-258-6000.
First, try to determine where the odor is coming from; inside the home or outside in the street. If an odor is coming from inside the home, there may be a problem with the internal plumbing system. Check your internal system first, such as ensuring that all of your p-trap drains have water in them, or call a plumbing company. If the problem exists outdoors, call the District at 707-258-6000.
Contact the District at 707-258-6000 to request the installation of a District cleanout. Typically, the cleanout will be installed near the property line. A vertical pipe (riser) will be connected to the existing sewer lateral. A utility box will be set around the top of the pipe to grade. This allows ease of access for cleaning the lateral. There is no cost for this service, but installation will be according to the District’s schedule and available resources.