Sewer Lateral Test Ordinance 1329

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Private Sewer Lateral and Testing Procedure and Requirements 

Per City of Burlingame Municipal Code, Chapter 15.12, all sewer laterals or sewer cleanouts which contain leaks or breaks, uncapped sewer cleanouts, sump pumps, downspouts or yard drains which discharge into the sewer system, and all other sources of accidental, negligent or intended introduction of storm runoff or similar waters into the sanitary system are declared to be a public nuisance, and shall be abated by the owner of the property, who is required to remove or correct such improper sewer connections. (Ord. 1329 § 1, (1986))

Inspection and Correction Upon Sale

Whenever any property is to be transferred to or vested in any other person or entity and that property includes any buildings or structures constructed more than twenty-five (25) years prior to the date of transfer or vesting, the sewer lateral(s) to that property shall be tested for infiltration and all necessary repairs or replacements performed to prevent all infiltration. All repair or replacement work shall be completed and approved by the city prior to transfer of title (Ord. 1623 § 2, (2000)). It shall be the owner's responsibility to determine if testing is needed. Visit Section 15.12.110 of the Burlingame Municipal Code for exceptions.

If the lateral needs testing, the property owner shall obtain a contractor or plumber to perform the test. Video inspection is not accepted at this time. The test shall be performed as follows:

  • The test must be witnessed by a City representative to meet the ordinance requirements. The contractor or owner shall first obtain an Encroachment Permit from the Public Works Department in City Hall and pay the testing fee. Obtaining the permit can be done before or concurrently with scheduling an appointment, but is required at the time of the test. All arrangements and set up should be completed by the time the City representative arrives to witness the test. Call (650) 558-7670 to schedule an appointment.
  • Each lateral is to have a cleanout located in the City right-of-way. If a cleanout does not exist, then one is required to be installed. The private owner's contractor will install the cleanout with an Encroachment Permit from the Department of Public Works. City personnel will spend a limited amount of time to assist in locating the cleanout or lateral. A cleanout located adjacent to the building will be a help in testing and repairing and is also required by the Uniform Plumbing Code. A Plumbing Permit from the Building Department is required for the cleanout adjacent to the building or for any work done on private property.
  • Testing will be accomplished by either a water exfiltration test or an air test. The air test shall be used in hillside areas where the hydraulic head pressures could damage the pipe.

    Water Exfiltration Test: The contractor shall furnish all materials and equipment, except the calibrated bucket. The contractor shall plug the lateral and riser at the City cleanout and then surcharge the line with water to a point equal to the foundation grade (floor joist level) or slab floor level. The minimum height of the water level shall be two feet (2'-0") above the lateral at the City cleanout. If there is any fixture inside the structure lower than the testing water level, the contractor shall have to either plug the fixture or the lateral at the building. An approved backwater valve shall be installed if there are any plumbing fixtures below the level of the City cleanout. A Plumbing Permit is required for this work. The contractor may also install or use an existing cleanout near the structure at the foundation grade (floor joist level) or slab floor level to establish the minimum two feet (2'-0") water level. (See Standard Drawing No. SS-2_3) [pdf]

    The lateral shall be surcharged for 30 minutes and the amount of water lost shall be measured. The lateral shall be considered acceptable if the amount of water lost is less than four (4) gallons. No increase or allowance is allowed for long laterals or for laterals larger than the 4-inch minimum size. 

    Air Test: The contractor shall furnish all materials, equipment and labor for making the test, except the pressure test gauge. Air test equipment shall be approved by the City. The contractor shall clean pipe and plug the lateral at the building line and the City cleanout. (If a cleanout is within two feet (2'-0") of the building, the lateral may be plugged at the cleanout.) 

    The leakage test of the lateral shall be conducted in the presence of the City in the following manner: 

    Air shall be slowly supplied to the plugged lateral until the internal air pressure reaches 4.0 pounds per square inch greater than the average back pressure of any groundwater that may submerge the pipe. The air pressure shall be regulated by a suitable regulator valve. 

    At least two minutes shall be allowed for temperature stabilization before proceeding further. The rate of air loss shall then be determined by measuring the time interval for the internal pressure to decrease from 3.5 to 2.5 pounds per square inch greater than the average back pressure of any groundwater that may submerge the pipe. 

    The lateral shall be considered acceptable if the time interval measured for the internal pressure to drop from 3.5 to 2.5 pounds per square inch is 10 seconds or greater. Air test data is on Standard Drawing No. SS-2-4. [pdf]
  • If the lateral passes the test, it shall be certified as acceptable and the sale can take place without any further action. This certification shall be effective for ten (10) years. 
  • If the lateral fails the test, the lateral shall be either repaired or replaced and retested until the lateral passes. There is one free retest allowed if the first sewer lateral test fails. A Plumbing Permit will be required for any repairs or replacement. A complete replacement from building to City cleanout is effective for 25 years. A repaired and tested lateral is effective for ten (10) years.
  • The City neither has nor will make any determination as to who will pay for the testing and repairing. That is to be decided between the parties involved in the sale.

Syed Murtuza, P.E. 
Public Works Director

(Rev. 3/9/03 new Encr. Permit fee) 
(Rev. 4/14/00 Ten-Year) 
(Rev. 3/2/93 Ordinance No. 1473 eff. 10/5/92) 
(Rev. 7/19/88) 
(Rev. 2/2/87 Enc. Per. Fee)