When you purchase a new home, it’s pretty standard to get a home inspection. Who wouldn’t want to know as much as possible about something you are about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on? And, if you purchase a home with a septic system, it’s also fairly standard practice to have that system inspected by a professional. But, what if your home is hooked up to the municipal sewer system? Do you simply trust that the sewer lines are all in good working order?
A sewer scope sounds like something that happens on your worst day as a home owner – a very smelly, bad day. But – in actuality, a sewer scope can help home owners avoid that terrible day when their sewer system fails causing smells, damage and ultimately a massive repair bill.
What is a sewer scope? A sewer scope is an easy inspection of the interior of a home’s sewer lines from the home itself out to the connection to the mainline in the street. Oddly, this simple inspection is often an after-thought for buyers, yet it’s one of the most important pieces of information for people purchasing a home that is more than 20 years old.
During the life of a home many things can occur underground to the sewer lines without the homeowner knowing it. When purchasing a home, gather all the information, including the condition of your sewer lines. “All kinds of things can be detected by a sewer scope. Tree root invasion, pipe breakage or pipe collapse can all be seen during the inspection.
Over time, small roots can creep into tiny crack and openings in the sewer line and begin to expand. They often then form traps for debris travelling down the sewer line, creating backups and clogs. Ultimately, the roots will cause breakage in the lines leading to leaks and line failure.
Purchasing a beautiful home and then learning you need to rip up the front yard to repair a septic line is not something any new homeowner wants to face.
Homes constructed prior to 1950 have sewer lines made of a tar paper substance called Orangeburg pipes. Over time, these pipes disintegrate and collapse. The only way to determine if an older home (60+ years) still has Orangeburg pipes is with a sewer scope inspection.
The process is extremely easy yet can save you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in repair, excavation and landscape destruction.
Historic bungalows and sprawling mid-century ranches are desirable in today’s market for unique and character filled homes. But, they come with hidden risks. A sewer scope can check one of those of your list.
The sewer scope inspection is quick and simple. A certified professional will insert a long cable camera with a light on the end down your drain and all the way through your pipes to the city sewer connection. Typically, the inspections are also filmed, allowing review of the pipe after the physical inspection in complete. Before you get too grossed out at looking inside your sewer pipes, the lines are typically a lot cleaner than you’d expect and most of what you’ll see is simply the interior of the pipe. Depending on the size of your home and the distance from the street, the scope could take as little as five minutes but if significant issues are detected, expect to be looking a bit longer.
Ultimately, spending a few hundred dollars before committing to your home purchase is a small price to pay to know your sewer is in good working order. No one wants to host a housewarming party with their sewer system backing up.