Kansas City officials say warranty program for sewer lines helps save homeowners money and avoid trouble

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- That letter you may have received in the mail may save you some money.

That's what the company behind a warranty program, which offers coverage for your home's water and sewer lines. In many cases, policies offered for purchase by the Service Lines are said to cover expenses not covered by traditional homeowners' insurance policies.

Kansas City leaders say four years in, this program already has 17,000 homes in Kansas City, Missouri covered. The man who introduced the program served 16 years on the KCMO city council, and says he's used it twice, saving thousands on repairs at his home.

Big tree roots are a big threat to an older home's sewer lines, according to plumbing techs at A.B. May. John Sharp, who served two terms on Kansas City's council, says one caused his sewer line to break.

"Some people think they'll never have a problem," Sharp lamented.

Sharp says he introduced the Service Line Warranties of America program to local leaders four years ago. He's even made a pair of claims for repairs at his own south Kansas City home.

"I've talked to some folks who've spent almost $10,000 bucks on those kind of repairs," Sharp said on Friday evening.

The warranties absorb those costs. Sharp says his policy costs $120 per year, and it covers his water and sewer lines.

"Both times, tree roots clogged up my sewer lines. I have the clay pipe sewer lines," Sharp said.

Plumbing experts say clay pipes are common at older homes, which are often seen in Kansas City's historic neighborhoods. Newer builds typically use plastic pipes, which don't rupture as easily.

"You could take a shower this morning, and go down to your basement, and see the sewage has backed up," Erick Kern, sewer line inspection manager at A. B. May, told FOX 4 News.

Kern says he sees it 20 to 30 times per month, and it can get expensive when a sewer line backs up or ruptures.

"You could spend five, six, seven thousand dollars replacing your sewer line, but if it backs up, and your basement is finished, or it creates a tremendous amount of damage, you're talking about 10, 15, 20, 30-thousand dollars to replace your basement," Kern said.

"I see so many people who think it can be done in a simple manner, and then, we're back out the next year or six months later, and they've got the same problem. They've redone their basement after the first backup, and now, they're back at the same point of redoing their basement because they didn't fix the entire problem."

A.B. May recommends a sewer inspection for anyone buying a new home. Kern recommends these warranties, since they can offset the costs of major water or sewer line repairs, and save homeowners thousands of dollars in an emergency.