Oakland Private Sewer Lateral Ordinance Scams and PSL Certificate Scams Becoming More Wide Spread – Consumer Alert

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The implementation of the Oakland Private Sewer Lateral Ordinance in 2012 came with a slew of contractors from outside Oakland who want to capitalize on the new regulation. Scams have become widespread and Plumbing-Information.Org advises consumers to be diligent when contracting for sewer replacement.

Oakland Private Sewer Lateral Ordinance

Oakland Private Sewer Lateral Ordinance

It circumvents the entire purpose of the Oakland sewer lateral ordinance

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The Oakland Private Sewer Lateral Ordinance came into effect in January of 2012. The ordinance requires that all residential homes, commercial buildings and condos being sold pass a sewer test. The sewer test determines whether or not the main sewer pipe has any leaks. If it has leaks it must be fixed or replaced. If there are no leaks the Oakland PSL Certificate is issued and nothing further is required.

The purpose of the Oakland Sewer Lateral Ordinance is to reduce the amount storm water that enters the EBMUD Waste Water Treatment Plant. Water that doesn’t need to be treated entering the system leads to a larger volume of water than the plant can handle. When this happens untreated sewage must be released into the San Francisco Bay. This new ordinance requiring the PSL Certificate to be obtained by homeowners has led to a market place where unscrupulous people are taking advantage of homeowners according to Anthony Brossard of Plumbing-Information.Org, “We hear stories everyday about homeowners being offered a PSL Certificate for a reduced cost without the sewer line actually being fixed. This is a disservice to homeowners but more importantly it circumvents the entire purpose of the Oakland sewer lateral ordinance which is to reduce the amount of untreated sewage that enters the bay.”

Unscrupulous contractors who develop practices to trick the EBMUD inspector to get homeowners an Oakland PSL Certificate are putting themselves at risk, the homeowner at risk and the environment at risk. “A lot of times what we hear about are contractors doing the sewer test in an area of the pipe that is good and hiding the area of the pipe that is bad. The sewer lateral passes the test and the PSL Certificate is issued but there could be a major problem waiting for the new homeowner done the line,” says Anthony.

Another sewer scam in Oakland is where contractors do a video camera inspection of the sewer line where they isolate the exact location of any damage before doing the Oakland sewer test. Then they tell the homeowner the repair can be done without a permit, which it cannot. Then they replace the broken parts of the pipe without a permit and then perform the sewer test. The sewer line passes the test and the PSL certificate is issued. According to Anthony a new code enforcement team has been assembled to prevent this from happening, “A new code enforcement effort is being made by a joint effort between the City of Oakland and EBMUD. Contractors and homeowners who are caught cheating the system face stiff penalties,” says Anthony.

Workers Compensation Fraud

Another thing homeowners should be on the lookout for when hiring an Oakland sewer test company is contractors who do not carry workers compensation insurance. This is easily checked by doing a license check on the California State Contractors License Board website. Some contractors knowingly commit fraud by claiming they have no employees to Contractors Board. This means they don’t have to purchase workers compensation insurance as a one person organization. The problem is that it takes a crew of people to perform a sewer replacement in Oakland. Many times these scam artists claim to have no employees and then hire day laborers to handle the sewer repair. This provides no protection the homeowner and if someone is injured the homeowner is at risk for being sued.

Plumbing-Information.Org has some simple recommendations for homeowners.

  •     Beware of Companies not Based in Oakland
  •     Always Make Sure The Contractor is Pulling Permits
  •     Make Sure the Contractor has Workers Compensation Insurance
  •     Get 3 Bids. If the Price Seems Too Good To be True, It is

To find a qualified, licensed professional for Oakland sewer repair or trenchless sewer replacement please visit our website.

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