Sewage backs up into man's home; law says not city's problem

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:

FORT MILL, S.C. - Sewage backed up into Tim Hood's home. 

"You could smell it,” Hood said. “You could smell it, yeah."

He took pictures both of his home and of others that are even worse. 

"Pretty nasty, yeah," Hood said. 

The problem wasn't his pipes. 

The city of Fort Mill's pipes clogged and backed up so Hood expected the city would take care of it. 

But city officials said, “No.” 

The reason behind that decision is because the government isn't responsible if it didn't know -- and shouldn't have known -- a problem was likely to happen. 

That's the law in both Carolinas, which applies to water mains, sewer lines, manholes, potholes and more. 

Fort Mill is legally not responsible.

Action 9 reporter Jason Stoogenke emailed the city to see if it would cover any of Hood's clean-up costs.  He spent close to $600 de-contaminating his home. 

After Stoogenke contacted the city, officials agreed to split the tab with him 50-50. 

"I got in touch with you guys and what you guys did in one day, in one day, what I had been trying to do to get an answer in two and a half months," Hood told Stoogenke.

There are two lessons: 

  • The city didn't have to chip in, a lesson to all property owners. 
  • There is something you can do to protect yourself. Call a plumber to come out to your home and see if you need a special valve. It goes in your yard and it has a flap in it so wastewater can go away from your home, but can't come back toward it. It costs anywhere from $400 to $500, but can be about $1,000.

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