An often-overlooked part of the home is the main sewer line leading from the house to the street. This is not part of a standard home inspection, not covered by insurance, and some home warranties exclude it as well. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars sometimes to replace a private sewer line. That’s right, the part between your house and the city sewer is privately owned by you. All maintenance and repairs are on the property owner.
What can go wrong with a sewer line?
Older sewer lines were made from various materials like cast iron, clay tile and even wood. These lines due to age and material can separate at joints, have root damage or the interior wall of the pipe can flake off and snag debris on its journey out. Modern sewer pipe is a smooth wall PVC that is less vulnerable to failures than the older materials. But even the modern pipe is vulnerable to separated joints, tree root damage, damage from being driven on my heavy equipment, bellies/sags in the pipe and so on. The best way to evaluate your sewer line is by sending a video camera down the drain.
Our sewer camera is the Wohler sewer camera with advanced German technology. Unlike cheaper cameras, the camera head on our camera can spin and turn to be able to look directly at the sidewall of the pipe instead of just straight forward (or upside down). The camera has a 100-foot push rod that can handle most needs. The Wohler sewer camera is capable of shooting both video and pictures of the sewer line to properly document the condition at the time of the evaluation.
As with all other aspects, we as inspectors cannot perform repairs on any home we inspect. This is to protect you, the client, from unethical practices. If a car mechanic both finds a problem with your can and then can instantly repair it for a fee, do you really know that he/she was looking out for your best interests? Similarly, having inspectors view the sewer line instead of a plumber, we will just tell you the facts about your sewer pipe and not try to sell you on a costly upsell repair.
When Do You Need a Sewer Scan?
There are a few characteristics we can look for to indicate a greater need for evaluation, like any sewer pipe over 50 years old, homes with large trees along the sewer line, but even new construction homes may have not been properly installed or were damaged when a heavy truck drove over the pipe. There are a few cases when having us perform a sewer scan is not practical: any home on a septic system, homes with grinder pumps.
At the end of the day, we can provide you with knowledge of current problems before you own them or give you the peace of mind knowing you do not have to worry about stinky sewer backups into your home from a collapsed sewer line.