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Frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the SLWC partnership

Shared responsibility for water and sewer service lines

What do homeowners need to know?

The City and homeowners share the ownership of and responsibility for the repair and maintenance of water and sewer service lines.

The City owns and maintains the water service line from the watermain to the water shut-off valve (referred to as the public portion). Property owners are responsible for the portion of the service line from water shut-off valve to their home (referred to as the private portion).

Similarly, for sanitary and storm sewer service lines, the City owns and maintains the sewer service line from the sewer main to the property line (referred to as the public portion). Property owners are responsible for the portion of the sewer service line from the property line to their home (referred to as the private portion).

Assessing the risk of a service line failure

What should homeowners consider when determining their risk?

The City cannot provide specific information on the risk of failure of private water or sewer service lines because each property is unique. An assessment of risk is at the discretion of the homeowner and is similar to the due diligence and decisions a homeowner makes when purchasing a home.

Homeowners may wish to consider:

Age, length and size of service lines

The age of a service line may be indicated by the age of the home itself, unless rehabilitation work has been completed. Homeowners may also wish to consider the length of their service lines, from the exterior of the home to the water shut-off valve or property line where the service lines connect to the City’s infrastructure.

Size of service lines

Service Line Standard Size (mm) Approximate Size (inches)
Water 19 - 32 3/4 - 1 1/4
Sanitary Sewer 135 (minimum) 5 1/4 (minimum)
Storm Sewer 100 (minimum) 4 (minimum)

However, depending on the age and construction of the home there may be exceptions.

Construction material and location

Type of material and location of a water service line will be influenced by when the service was installed or replaced. The Ontario Building Code and the City’s Design Guidelines have changed over time. For example, older homes such as those built prior to 1955 may have a lead water service. Learn more about the City’s Lead Pipe Replacement Program.

Similarly, sewer service line requirements have changed. Under the Ontario Building Code, homes built after January 1, 2004 require the installation of a backwater valve on the private storm sewer service. Unique to Ottawa, homes built after January 1, 2012 require the installation of a backwater valve on the private sanitary sewer service. Learn more about the City’s Residential Protective Plumbing Program.

Lifespan of a service

Lifespan may depend on construction material, soil conditions and use. For sewer services, lifespan may also depend on the location, number and species of nearby trees. The City maintains a list of properties confirmed to have experienced a sewer backup caused by City-owned tree roots or structural defects on the public portion of the sewer service line that cannot readily be repaired. Learn more about the City’s Preventative Maintenance Program.

Available Information

The City does not complete repairs on private services and therefore does not have accurate information regarding private services.

Home insurance and SLWC coverage

Does my home insurance cover exterior water and sewer service lines?

Maybe. Homeowners are encouraged to contact their insurance provider to understand if their policy covers repairs to the exterior water and sewer service lines due to normal wear and tear, whether or not additional coverage can be added to their policy and at what cost, and their responsibilities in the event of a private water or sewer service line failure. If the policy does not cover the repair of water and sewer/septic service lines, homeowners may wish to consider alternatives.

Are SLWC’s protection plans considered insurance?

No. SLWC offers service plans as an independent private provider. Although the plans use terms like deductible, coverage and exclusions, the plans are not insurance, but a contractual pledge to arrange a contractor to repair your water and sewer/septic service lines.

How is insurance different from the plans offered by Service Line Warranties of Canada?

Insurance provides the ability to transfer the potential financial consequences of a loss to an insurance company, in exchange for a policy premium. When an accident occurs, insurance is intended to cover the costs to put the policy holder back in the same financial position they were in right before the event occurred. Insurance coverage is subject to the terms and conditions of the policy issued and may not respond to all events. For more information about insurance coverage for the private portion of water and sewer service lines, property owners are encouraged to contact their insurance provider to understand the extent of their policy coverage, and their responsibilities in the event of a private water or sewer service line failure.

Service Line Warranties of Canada provides services in the event of the failure of a private water or sewer service line due to wear and tear. Should a service line fail, Service Line Warranties of Canada will coordinate any covered repairs with their network of qualified and insured local contractors. Their contractor will obtain the necessary permits, locates and will perform the repair or replacement of the service line. Service Line Warranties of Canada will also pay the contractor directly, up to your plan’s benefit amount.

SLWC Program eligibility and limitations

Who is eligible for SLWC plans, and which property types are eligible?

The program applies to those registered owners of property within the geographical boundary of the City of Ottawa that are either connected to the City’s water system or the City’s sewer system or both and specifically excludes commercial, industrial and institutional property owners and tenants living in residential properties.

Are rural residents eligible?

Yes, Service Line Warranties of Canada offers coverage to all single-family homes that are secured to the ground, and the land on which they are located, provided that it is zoned for residential occupancy. Homeowners can review the coverage options available to a rural property’s well and septic lines at plansforottawa.ca. Detailed information on each plan is available under Terms & Conditions: “What sections are covered?”.

Are there any wait periods for submitting a claim when opting into a plan?

No. Homeowners can submit a claim as soon as their plan is active.

Are there any restrictions for opting out of a plan?

No. Homeowners can cancel one or more of their plans at any time by contacting the SLWC Contact Center at 1-844-958-0069.

Does SLWC’s coverage have a deductible amount?

No. There is no deductible amount. However, service calls do have a per occurrence benefit amount. These amounts can be reviewed by visiting plansforottawa.ca or by contacting Service Line Warranties of Canada at 1-844-958-0069.

What happens if the cost of repair is above the per occurrence benefit amount?

If the estimate for the work to be completed is above the service call benefit amount, the homeowner would be notified of anticipated out-of-pocket costs prior to any work being completed. The homeowner would then be invoiced for the amount above the service call benefit amount after work is completed.

Service Line Warranties of Canada and its partnership with the City of Ottawa

Who is Service Line Warranties of Canada?

Service Line Warranties of Canada is a private company that provides optional and voluntary Exterior Water Service Line, Exterior Sewer/Septic Line and Interior Plumbing and Drainage Coverage plans to homeowners.

Service Line Warranties of Canada (SLWC) was incorporated in British Columbia in 2014 and is a part of HomeServe which is an international service provider operating in the UK, France, Spain, Japan, the US and Canada. SLWC is guided by a Toronto based General Manager and the contractors in SLWC’s network are Canadian, including those servicing Ottawa.

SLWC is an accredited Better Business Bureau organization with an A+ rating and is solely responsible for the administration of the program.

Why has the City of Ottawa chosen to work with SLWC to offer these Plans?

The City saw an opportunity to educate homeowners about their responsibilities for the maintenance, repair and replacement of the private portion of their water and sewer service lines (from inside the home to the property line or water shut-off valve).

The City can also be assured that all repairs performed on this critical infrastructure meet the Ontario Building Code and that all appropriate permitting is obtained.

Why was SLWC chosen over another company?

The arrangement between the City and SLWC was established through the Local Authorities Services (LAS), a not-for-profit organization created by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario to work with Ontario municipalities, as well as organizations from the broader public sector, to help realize lower costs, higher revenues, and enhanced staff capacity, through co-operative procurement efforts, and innovative training, program and services.

LAS has conducted due diligence and selected SLWC as its preferred service partner to provide low-cost warranty offering to the residents of Ontario municipalities. For more information, please visit LAS.

City staff are in continuous communication with SLWC and will be monitoring the program to ensure residents receive excellent service. Other companies are not in any way precluded from approaching the City to enter into a similar type of agreement.

What are the benefits of this type of program?

SLWC offers homeowners optional and voluntary affordable protection for unexpected costs of repairing or replacing failed or defective water and sewer/septic service lines, as well as failed or defective interior plumbing systems.

SLWC only uses qualified local contractors so repair dollars stay within the community, helping the local economy.

Is the City receiving compensation in this arrangement? How is it being spent?

SLWC does offer the City compensation for allowing the use of the City’s logo when promoting the program to Ottawa homeowners. The support of the City provides residents with confirmation of the legitimacy of the program. This in turn results in increased enrollments, allowing SLWC to offer plans at lower prices. The compensation offsets the administrative cost of the program to the City, however it does not generate revenue.

Communications and public funding

Does SLWC provide services in both official languages?

Yes. Under its agreement with the City, SLWC has committed to providing its communications materials and Call Centre services in both official languages.

Did the City of Ottawa provide SLWC with customer mailing information?

No. The City did not sell or otherwise provide resident names or addresses as part of this program. SLWC purchased its records through a third-party which are accessible through public information.

Will all my information be shared with the City of Ottawa?

No. Once enrolled in any of the exterior coverage plans, SLWC will only be sharing your property address with the City of Ottawa to assist with providing timely response and coordinating work which may impact the City's infrastructure.

Did the City provide any public funds to support the promotion of this program?

No. SLWC pays for all aspects of the program including marketing, customer service and repairs.

I received a call from a Home Warranty company. Is this related to SLWC?

No. The agreement between the City and SLWC specifically prohibits telemarketing and door-to-door solicitation practices.

How can I stop getting mail from SLWC?

If you would prefer to not receive any marketing notifications (such as email, direct mail, or phone calls) from SLWC, please contact SLWC at 1-844-958-0069.