Do Utility Lines Really Break?
- Q: Do water and sewer lines really break?
- A: Water and sewer lines clog, leak and break every day. Investments are being made to improve public infrastructure, but private lines are subjected to the same harsh elements as public lines.
- Q: What causes water and sewer lines to fail?
Wear and tear over time. It can be that simple. Over time, fittings can fail, pipes can corrode and your house can shift and settle. A small crack or pinhole develops and leads to a leak. Next thing you know, your utility line has failed.
Freezing, thawing; rain, snow; each change of season brings with it a different utility line challenge and the potential for cracks and leaks.
We all admire the beauty of a landscape graced with trees and shrubbery, but tree roots are not friends of your utility lines. Wrapping themselves around your lines, they will eventually cause cracks, leaks and clogs.
- Q: If my water or sewer line breaks, can't I just call my local plumber to come out and make an inexpensive repair?
- A: Costs vary, but repairs to a broken, leaking or clogged water or sewer line can range from hundreds to upwards of $3,500 – or more. Plus, not all plumbers have the necessary equipment to do the job properly, which could result in the repair taking longer to complete.
Service Line Responsibilities
- Q: What part of my water or sewer line am I responsible for maintaining?
- A: Homeowner responsibility can vary between municipalities; however, homeowner responsibility is generally from the property line to the City main line. Regardless of local differences, Service Line Warranties of Canada (SLWC) will provide coverage for the portion of the service line for which you are responsible.
- Q: Isn’t my City or utility company responsible for maintenance of my lines? If not, doesn't my homeowner’s insurance cover this type of repair?
- A: Typically, no. Most homeowners are surprised to learn that they are responsible for the repair and/or replacement of their broken or leaking utility lines. While most homeowner’s policies cover the damage to personal property created by failed utility lines, they do not cover the repair itself. We encourage you to call your insurance company to determine your actual coverage details. If you live in a condominium or duplex dwelling, contact your homeowner’s association to determine if you need this coverage prior to enrollment.
- Q: How selective is Service Line Warranties of Canada when choosing contractors to make the repairs?
- A: Service Line Warranties of Canada is very particular when it comes to accepting contractors into its network. Candidates undergo a rigorous business and background check, which is conducted by a third-party vendor. The objective is to provide the highest level of customer service by making the repair to the homeowner’s satisfaction and according to local code. Every contractor understands the importance of their role and SLWC’s commitment to providing customers with an exceptional experience. SLWC works with local contractors who have both the desire and ability to meet its high customer service standards.
- Q: What should I do if I am not happy with the contractor or the repair made by the contractor?
- A: SLWC sends out a customer survey by postal mail upon completion of every repair. The returned surveys are used to help ensure the contractors are performing well and meeting customer expectations. In addition, the feedback helps SLWC improve processes to make sure that every customer experience is both positive and has met expectations.
Customers that wish to report a poor service experience (or a positive one) can call the toll-free number, 1-866-922-9004, to speak with an SLWC Claims Agent or send an email to email@example.com. SLWC will respond to your email within one business day.
- Q: What do I do if I need a repair?
- A: Simply call our 24-hour hotline at 1-866-922-9004 to speak with a claims representative. There are no forms or paperwork for you to complete. Once you report a claim, the contractor assigned to the repair must call you within one hour to schedule an on-site visit, which typically occurs within 24 hours (including holidays and weekends), but on rare occasions could take as long as 48 hours.
Upon completion of your repair, a customer satisfaction survey will be mailed to you. Results of these surveys are used to continually improve service levels and processes. SLWC has consistently enjoyed an over 95% customer satisfaction rating (excellent and good categories).
- Q: What codes will SLWC adhere to – the current code or original code at the time of installation?
- A: If the line is broken and leaking, SLWC will repair or replace the leaking portion of the line according to the current code. In Ontario, it is the Ontario Building Code.
Warranty Inclusions and Exclusions
- Q: What items are included as part of the warranty?
- A: The external water and/or sewer line warranty covers the underground service line from the home’s foundation to the point where the line becomes the utility's responsibility. If any part of the line is clogged, broken and/or leaking, SLWC will repair or replace the line in order to restore service (including clearing tree roots from the water or sewer line). The In-Home Plumbing Repair Program covers the cost of repairs to broken or leaking water or sewer lines inside the house, including drain lines connected to the main sewer stack.
- Q: What items are excluded as part of the warranty?
- A: The Water Line warranty does not cover the cost of repairs to the meter or meter vault (where applicable), nor does it cover branch lines to sprinklers, pools, hot tubs, etc.
The Sewer Line warranty does not cover septic systems. The warranties are designed to ensure that the homeowner has utility service to the primary residence for purposes of drinking, cooking and cleaning.
The In-Home Plumbing Repair warranty does not cover faucets or fixtures, venting issues or gas lines. The warranty is designed to cover the cost of a broken or leaking water supply line inside the home to an appliance or fixture, drain line or toilet line to restore flow.
Repairs for damages caused by the homeowner, a third party, natural disaster, act of God or by other insurable causes are also not covered. Complete Terms and Conditions for your residence can be viewed by returning to the homepage and clicking on "View Terms and Conditions." You will be asked to enter your postal code to ensure the correct Terms and Conditions are displayed.
- Q: What are the event caps for the warranty? What are the annual caps per household?
- A: Coverage caps listed in the Terms and Conditions are per occurrence as follows:
In-Home Plumbing Repair - $3,000
There are no annual or lifetime coverage caps. Coverage is provided on a per-incident basis and all work is warranted for one year. Please note: some cities have special coverage situations. To verify your area’s coverage caps, please go to Terms & Conditions.
*The City of Hamilton continues to offer its Sewer Lateral Management Program to address costs related to the Private Portion (the portion owned by the homeowner that runs between the homeowner's building and property line) of the sewer lateral where there is tree root intrusion caused by a City-owned tree. The Program allows for a one-time reimbursement of up to $1,500 where the homeowner chooses to replace and/or rehabilitate the entire Private Portion. This program does not cover damage to the private portion of the sewer line caused by improper use or normal wear and tear. Please visit www.hamilton.ca/water for more information.
- Q: Who replaces landscaping if damaged during the repair process?
- A: SLWC will provide basic restoration to the repair site, which includes filling in the holes, mounding the trench (to allow for settling) and raking and seeding the affected area. Restoration does not include replacing trees or shrubs or repairing private paved/concrete surfaces.
- Q: Is soil movement due to ground shifting covered?
- A: Yes, ground shifting is one of the major causes of water and sewer line breaks. If the water or sewer line on your property is broken and/or leaking as a result of the ground shifting, the repair is covered under the warranty.
- Q: Is tree root damage covered?
- A: Yes, invasive tree roots are another major cause of water and sewer line failures. If the water or sewer line on your property is broken, leaking or clogged as a result of invasive tree roots, the repair is covered under the warranty.
- Q: When does my warranty coverage start?
- A: Coverage begins 30 days after enrollment unless otherwise noted through a promotional letter.
- Q: The coverage cap looks adequate, but is there a limit to how much is paid for a repair?
- A: No. Unlike some other available warranties, SLWC provides you with full repair coverage for each repair incident. SLWC will pay the full coverage amount each and every time a repair is made if necessary. Prior repair expenses are not deducted from the coverage cap and do not limit the amount SLWC will pay annually.
- Q: How will I be billed?
- A: The choice is yours. SLWC can provide a paper or electronic invoice, charge your credit card or deduct the payment amount automatically from your checking account and you can choose payment frequency – monthly or annual and/or recurring.
- Q: Is the contract a long-term commitment?
- A: No. The SLWC warranty contract is month-to-month with the option to cancel your warranty at any time. If you have prepaid your contract and decide to cancel before the end of its term, you will be refunded the unused portion of your premium.
- Q: Am I able to pay my bill online through www.slwofc.ca?
- A: Yes. Follow the navigation prompts under Manage Account to log in. If you’ve not yet created an SLWC online account, choose Sign Up, and follow the prompts. Once logged in, if you have already received an invoice, you can pay your bill. Select Make a Payment from the homepage. You can choose payment methods of credit card or bank draft and payment frequency – make a one-time payment or set your account up for recurring charges or drafts. An electronic receipt will be sent to your email (the one used to set up your online account) after the transaction is completed. If you have not yet received your first invoice but would like to prepay your warranty, please call SLWC Customer Service at 1-866-922-9004 for assistance.
- Q: Can I set up recurring payments online through www.slwofc.ca?
- A: Yes. Follow the navigation prompts under Manage Account to log in. Then select Update Payment Method. On the next screen, select the warranty products for which you want to set up recurring payments. Follow the prompts to choose your new payment method and provide the details for that payment method. You will receive an electronic receipt in your email (the email used to set up your online SLWC account) after the transaction is completed.
- Q: How do I get a refund if I decide to cancel my enrollment?
- A: You have thirty (30) days from the date you enroll in the SLWC Program to cancel and receive a full refund of any payment you have made. After 30 days, you may cancel your participation in the Program and will be reimbursed the pro rata share of any amount you paid, less 1) any costs paid towards a claim filed on your account, and 2) a $6.00 processing fee. SLWC will not pay any refund which is less than $6.00, unless requested by you.
To initiate a refund request for cancellation, please contact customer care at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-922-9004 and have your account number, name on the account, service address and enrolled product(s) information available.
Eligible Dwelling Types
- Q: I live in a condominium. Am I responsible for my water or sewer line?
- A: Please contact your homeowner’s association to determine if you are personally responsible for your water or sewer service line.
- Q: Can my condominium association enroll in this program?
- A: Yes. Because coverage issues can vary widely between associations, including private versus public roads and single versus shared service lines, please call 1-866-922-9004 to speak with a knowledgeable SLWC Customer Service Representative who can address your specific questions.
- Q: Is the program just for residents or can businesses participate?
- A: At this time, the program is only available for residential dwellings.
Terms and Conditions
- Q: I cannot find my Terms and Conditions. Can I view them online?
- A: Assuming you’ve already created an online account, visit the SLWC website at www.slwofc.ca and follow the navigation prompts under Manage Account to log in. Then select View Terms and Conditions from the homepage. The warranty product(s) that are active on your account will display once you are logged in. Once your selection has been made, your specific Terms and Conditions will display as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file. You have the option to view, print or save your Terms and Conditions. To view them, you will need to use Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download here.
About Service Line Warranties of Canada (SLWC)
- Q: Who is Service Line Warranties of Canada?
- Service Line Warranties of Canada is a private company that provides optional water, sewer and/or in-home plumbing warranty plans for homeowners.
- SLWC is an accredited Better Business Bureau organization with an A+ rating
- SLWC works with City administration to introduce the program to residents within a community
Note: For the City of Hamilton the SLWC program was established through the City’s procurement process and approved by City Council.
- Q: Is SLWC a member of the Better Business Bureau?
- A: Yes. Utility Service Partners (including Service Line Warranties of America and Service Line Warranties of Canada) has been a member of the Better Business Bureau since 2003 and are very proud of our clean record and for maintaining an A+ rating.
- Q: What happens to my warranty coverage if Service Line Warranties of Canada goes out of business? What happens to money paid in premiums?
- A: SLWC's contract terms are month-to-month and SLWC must legally maintain adequate reserves to satisfy all filed claims.
- Q: What happens if SLWC goes out of business?
- A: Service Line Warranties of Canada, Inc., (SLWC) is a subsidiary of Utility Service Partners, Inc. (USP). USP, operating through its subsidiaries, has been a major participant in the service line warranty business in the US since 2003, and has never failed to meet its obligations to its customers. USP is committed to providing the same operational and financial support to SLWC as it always has to its other subsidiaries in order to assure their continued ability to perform their obligations to their customers.
- Q: Why is the City working with Service Line Warranties of Canada?
- To educate residential property owners about their responsibilities for the maintenance, repair and replacement of water and sewer service lines (the portion from their homes to the property line) – at no cost to the City.
- To make available to residents optional, affordable protection against the unexpected costs of repairing or replacing non-functioning water and sewer service lines, as well as broken interior plumbing and drainage systems.
- To be assured that all repairs are completed to code and that all appropriate permitting is pulled. Additionally, SLWC only uses qualified local contractors so repair dollars stay within the community, helping the local economy.
- To reduce expense to property owners and the City because the Program encourages residents to report water and sewer leaks, clogs and breaks in a timely manner. Timely water line repairs conserve water and reduce water loss for the City. Timely sewer line repairs minimize wastewater (sewer) pollution, which helps keep the environment free of contaminants.
- Because other cost savings for the City are expected with fewer calls from residents to report problems and less involvement of City personnel regarding infrastructure that is the responsibility of property owners.
- Because SLWC does offer the City compensation for allowing use of the City logo on the warranty offer letters that homeowners receive. The support of the City alerts residents to the legitimacy of the program, resulting in more enrollments, which in turn allows SLWC to offer lower warranty prices to residents because of the increased participation. The revenue the City receives helps to keep Hamilton’s water and sewer/storm rates among the lowest in Ontario.
- Q: Why is my City sending this letter to me?
- A: Your City Council simply wanted to make homeowners aware of the availability of these optional programs. So, letters were mailed by SLWC for the purpose of providing program information. Homeowners who wish to lean more about this program or want to enroll are encouraged to contact SLWC directly at the number provided in the letter. Homeowners who are not interested in these services may disregard the letter entirely as participation is completely voluntary.
- Q: Did the City pay for this mailing?
- A: No. SLWC pays for all aspects of the program including marketing, customer service and repairs. No public funds are used or investment of City resources requested to introduce the program to residents in the community.
- Q: Does anyone in my City have an ownership position in SLWC or benefit personally from this program?
- A: No. SLWC is independently owned and operated and no City official, employee or relative receives any personal compensation whatsoever. In other words, no one in your City is participating for personal gain.
- Q: Is the City receiving any compensation from SLWC?
- A: SLWC does offer the City compensation for allowing the use of the City seal on the letter. Why? Because the support of the City alerts residents to the legitimacy of the program, resulting in more enrollments, which in turn allows SLWC to offer a lower price because of the increased participation.
- Q: I don’t want to receive any solicitations from SLWC. How can this be accomplished?
- A: Contact your City to have your address removed from the next mailing.
- Q: I want more information but don’t have my letter.
- A: View the information presented here on the website (www.slwofc.ca) or call SLWC directly at 1-866-922-9004 to speak with a Customer Service Representative.
- Q: Who is Service Line Warranties of Canada?
• Service Line Warranties of Canada (“SLWC”) is a private company that provides optional water and/or wastewater warranty plans to homeowners.
• SLWC is an accredited Better Business Bureau organization that has an A+ rating.
• SLWC’s program was established through the City’s procurement process and approved by Hamilton City Council.
- Q: Why has the City of Hamilton chosen to work with SLWC to offer warranty Plans?
• To educate residential property owners about their responsibilities for the maintenance, repair and replacement of water and sewer service lines (portion from their homes to the property line) – at no cost to the City.
• To make available to residents optional, affordable protection against unexpected costs of repairing or replacing non-functioning water and sewer lines, as well as broken interior plumbing and drainage systems.
• The City can be assured that all repairs are performed to code and that all appropriate permitting is pulled. Additionally, SLWC only uses qualified local contractors so repair dollars stay within the community helping the local economy.
• Reduced expense to property owners and the City because the Plans encourage residents to report water and sewer leaks in a timely manner. Timely water line repairs conserve water and reduce water loss for the City. Timely sewer line repairs minimize wastewater pollution helping the environment.
• Other cost savings for the City expected with fewer calls and involvement of City personnel regarding infrastructure that is the responsibility of property owners.
• SLWC does offer the City itself compensation for allowing the use of the City logo on the warranty offering letters that homeowners receive. The support of the City alerts residents of the legitimacy of the program resulting in more enrollments, which in turn allows SLWC to offer the warranties at lower prices to residents because of the increased participation. The revenue the City receives helps to keep Hamilton’s water and wastewater/storm rates among the lowest in Ontario.
- Q: Are the Warranty Plans considered insurance?
A: The Plans are a warranty service plan offered by SLWC as an independent private provider. Although the Plans use terms like “deductible”, “coverage” and “exclusions” the Plans are not insurance, but a contract pledge to arrange a contractor to repair your service lines.
- Q: Is this a City Program?
This is NOT a City program, but rather SLWC is a program partner. As such, SLWC is solely responsible for the administration and service of the warranty programs. The Program was developed through the City’s Procurement Process. Visit the SLWC website at www.slwofc.ca or call 1-855-326-4730 (toll free) to sign up or get more details about the program.
A homeowner, who chooses to enroll in this Program, should do so with the understanding that the City in no way warrants or is liable for the work or performance of SLWC. The City wishes to make residents aware of the availability of this product since water and sewer line repairs can be very expensive.
- Q: Did the City provide mailing info to SLWC?
The City of Hamilton provides mailing information (resident names and addresses only) to a third party mailing house in order to facilitate the mailing of materials that promote its water/wastewater protection plan in accordance with its Water Account Privacy statement which can be found at:
www.horizonutilities.com/WaterPrivacy and a Non-Disclosure Agreement between the City and that mailing house. This information is used for mailing purposes only and is not provided directly to Service Line Warranties of Canada, the program administrator. Should you wish your information to be removed from this mailing list please contact the City at: 905-546-2489 (CITY) or at askCITY@hamilton.ca and we will ensure that it is removed from the next mailing.