What is a sewer scope?
A sewer scope allows us the opportunity to insert a high-definition camera down the length of a sewer line, also known as a lateral, to assess the pipe's condition with photos and video documentation. We can locate with pinpoint accuracy any damage or clogging in the pipe that could lead to leaks, sewage backup into the home and yard, or costly repairs.
My house is attached to the city sewer. Isn't the municipality responsible for repairs?
The entire sewer lateral - where the drain pipe exits your home's foundation and slopes downhill to the main city sewer line - is the homeowner's responsibility. In some municipalities, this even includes the portion of the sewer lateral under the sidewalk or street.
Do I really need a sewer inspection?
Is your house - or the house you're considering purchasing - a bit older? If so, the sewer pipe materials were probably made of cast iron, vitrified clay, or a fiber conduit material called Orangeburg. Newer homes typically use plastic material like PVC or ABS for their sewer lateral. An older sewer lateral is not necessarily in poor condition - nor is a newer one guaranteed to be working properly. Many factors can impact the sewer pipe's draining capability. For instance, are trees or shrubs anywhere near the sewer line? Has ground settling occured over the years? Has a driveway been added that crosses the lateral? Have previous occupants flushed or rinsed material down a drain that should have been disposed of there?
Wasn't the functional flow test good enough?
As part of your standard home inspection, we will conduct what's known as a functional flow test - meaning we'll turn on multiple fixtures and flush a toilet simultaneously. Without a sewer scope performed, this is our best indicator as to the condition of the system. That said, I have seen sewer pipes with 50% blockage or more (tree roots, scaling, etc.) still "pass" a functional flow test. I have also seen pipes with large cracks or holes - the waste was still flowing, but not necessary down the pipe to the main sewer! These problems were not identified until the camera inspection was conducted. A sewer inspection is completely up to you, but this non-invasive service gives you peace of mind up front.
How much does a sewer line replacement cost?
According to Home Guide, this cost averages between $3,000-$7,000! Depending on the extent of damages and if a municipality's Public Works Department has to be involved, costs can soar upwards of $30,000 for a full replacement. Drain damage or obstructions found under your home's foundation not only place you at risk for sewage backup into your home, but repairs are much more difficult to perform and are therefore more expensive.
Sewers are supposed to last a long time, right?
Yes, sewer lateral materials should last a long time...many manufacturers claim a lifespan of 50-100 years. Those pipes and fittings, however, are susceptible to the quality of installation, natural shifting of the ground over time, what materials have been flushed or rinsed down the drain in the home, or even trees and shrubs that were planted in the soil above. These factors can lead to clogging, cracking, joint separation, or sagging of sewer pipes.
What report will I receive?
If combined with your home inspection, you will receive a $50 discount on the sewer scope inspection! On the plumbing section of your home inspection report, you will receive a detailed analysis of your sewer lateral - complete with digital images - within 24 hours. Additionally, you will receive a private link to a video upload of your sewer inspection so you can review it in real time. Click here to see sample reports.