A homeowner is responsible for the sewer line from the home to the street. Knowing the condition of the sewer line can be a helpful tool when negotiating the purchase of your home. A camera sewer scope inspection can help. A camera sewer scope inspection is an evaluation of the privately-owned lateral sewer line from the exterior wall to the connection with the publicly-owned sanitary sewer, city tap, or septic. The sewer line is underground and not visible during a general home inspection. This service is invaluable, especially, when purchasing an old home (over 20 years old). The inspection is crucial in identifying problems with the sewer line. Repairs or replacement can be costly. It is better to know of a faulty sewer line prior to purchasing a property.
Common Sewer Line Problems Include:
Root Intrusion: Sewer lines create the perfect environment for tree roots due to the constant water source and nutrients. Small gaps in sections of piping can allow tree roots to enter the sewer line. As the roots grow, the pipe can break and crack, requiring repair or replacement. Minor tree root intrusion can be rooted and cleared on a regular basis, with minimal or no significant pipe damage. Assessing the amount of root intrusion is part of a sewer scope inspection.
Low Areas: Low areas, also referred to as bellies, can collect water ands solid waste, causing poor flow through the pipe which can lead to back-up and damage to the pipe as it sags further.
Offsets: On some older piping, sections can separate, causing an offset in the piping. Solid waste may not clear this offset. Waste water can seep into the surrounding soil, causing further settlement and eventual breakdown of the piping.
Debris: Occasionally, construction debris or other items can become lodged in the sewer line, preventing the flow of waste through the pipe.
Pipe Collapse: Extreme root intrusion or significant soil settlement around a pipe, along with old age, can result in complete pipe collapse. This will require full excavation and replacement of the sewer line. While rare, this condition can be assessed as part of a sewer scope inspection.
In reality, there are two types of risky sewer line, clay (85+ years old) and cast iron (50+years old). Clay collapses on its own after approximately 90 years and the average cost of replacement can be upwards of $6000 (when using PVC). It can be more costly depending on other factors. Cast iron is cond=sidered a better material, however, tree roots can enter the seams and clog the drain line.
A sewer scope inspection will provide you with a look into the home’s sewer line. A plumbing camera attached to a long, flexible cable will be inserted into the drainpipe. The camera streams video to a monitor, allowing the inspector to look for root intrusion and other blockages, broken or collapsed pipes, and other serious problems with the sewage system.
As with the general home inspection, a sewer scope inspection allows you to have a better idea of a home’s overall condition. Without the sewer scope inspection, you may be purchasing a home with a faulty sewer system. This can lead to costly repairs and even dangerous problems for people occupying the home. Understanding the condition of the underground sewer drain line and knowing the extent and location of a particular problem will be a key part of a decision in purchasing a home. A sewer scope can also be helpful to current homeowners who suspect that they likely have a problem and need to be prepared prior to hiring a contractor for repairs.
Call Stavlas Home Inspections today to schedule your sewer scope inspection. Camera sewer scope inspections are available for homes on public utilities. Our inspection will view and record the sewer line from a clean-out port typically located in the basement to the public sewer connection. If a clean-out does not exist, a toilet can be removed for access to the sewer line for an additional cost of $125.