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Does your sewer need scoping?

Is a sewer scope important to get before buying a house?

Before you sign on the dotted line, let’s take a moment to talk about one crucial step you should consider before making your final decision: getting a sewer scope inspection.

Homeowners are responsible for their sewer line until it connects to the city line in the middle of the street. This means that any pre-existing issues with the line will become your obligation as soon as you become the homeowner, which can cost a pretty penny, depending on the severity and location. Therefore, it’s vital to know if there are any issues with the sewer line before you make the purchase.

During a sewer scope inspection, a professional inspector will use special video equipment to inspect the sewer line and identify any pre-existing issues such as cracks, breaks, or tree root infiltration. This way, you can make an informed decision about whether to buy the house. 

Warning signs there could be a sewage issue at your home

While we recommend getting a sewer scope before buying a home, regardless of the circumstances, some warning signs can indicate a problem. One of the most common warning signs is slow drainage from multiple drains, where water is not exiting as quickly as it should. This can signify a blockage in the sewer line or tree root infiltration. 

Another warning sign is a foul smell coming from your laundry when you run it. This can mean that the sewer line is backed up, and the wastewater isn’t properly draining. Additionally, a sinkhole in your yard where the sewer pipe runs to the connection in the street can indicate a break in the sewer line.

Inspection preparation

If you’re planning to have a sewer scope inspection done at your home, there are a few things you can do to prepare for the process. First, be ready to clear the area where the inspector will access the sewer line. This might include removing furniture, obstructions, or obstacles that may prevent the inspector from accessing the sewer line cleanout cap easily.

Next, the inspector will open the cleanout cap to insert the camera into the sewer stack. If you need help finding your cleanout cap, the inspector can help you locate it. It’s important to note that the sewer line may have different entry points, including in the basement, crawlspace, exterior cleanouts, or through the toilet. The inspector may need to remove the toilet entirely to access the line if there is no access point.

Lastly, if you have a one-story home, the inspector may be able to go through the sewer vent stack from the roof, assuming it is safe to do so. This is a less invasive option and may be a good solution if no other access points are available. By preparing your home to be scoped and understanding the possible entry points, you can ensure the inspection is done efficiently, without any hiccups. 

Common sewage issues found during the inspection

Let’s address some of the common issues often found during a sewer scope. Root intrusion is one of the most typical issues, which can cause blockages and slow drainage. Fortunately, root intrusion is often a minor issue. Root intrusion is more commonly found in older clay and concrete pipes with weak seams in the pipe joints but can be found in newer PVC pipes that have been damaged or improperly installed. The inspector may recommend snaking the line or hydro-jetting to address this issue which costs between $350-$900 depending on the clog severity.

On a more costly note, misaligned pipes, often referred to as offsets, are another common problem uncovered during a scope inspection. Sometimes, offsets can prevent the camera from reaching the connection at the city’s main line. Once the line is repaired and re-scoped, it’s possible that more problematic breaks, cracks, or bellies (sag) in the line could be discovered. These issues can occur in the yard or in the street and can include excavation of soil to make the needed repairs. 

Repair costs can vary depending on the location and depth of the pipe, with repairs in the yard usually costing around $1-$2K and repairs in the street potentially costing upwards of $35K. In some cases, the damaged pipe can be newly lined without having to excavate any soil. Often, lining an existing damaged pipe is the best option and can cost between $50 to $200 per linear foot. As you can see, repairing a sewer line can be an expensive endeavor. For this reason, many homeowners will opt to carry insurance that covers any issue with the water and sewer lines. Still, by identifying and addressing these common problems early on, you can avoid more costly repairs down the road.

Time associated with sewer scope repairs

We know you may be on a strict schedule when purchasing a home. Repair time will depend on the location, severity of the issues, and the plumber’s availability. If you want a rushed job, you will likely pay more for those 24/7 services, so keep that in mind if you’re on a budget! 

Scheduling a sewer scope with zoom home inspections

Scheduling a sewer scope with Zoom Home Inspections is quick and easy. Here at Zoom, we partner with inspectors that don’t handle sewer repairs, so you know you’re getting an unbiased opinion. In fact, Zoom collaborated with Todd Vecchio, of Sound Sewer Inspections to complete this blog. From our expert viewpoint, a home inspection isn’t complete without a sewer scope inspection, so we don’t recommend cutting corners here when you’re purchasing a home. 

When scheduling your inspection through the Zoom website, you can add a sewer scope inspection to your order once you reach the final page of our scheduling system. Once the inspection is complete, you will have a clear understanding of the condition of the home as well as the state of the sewer line. This gives you a comprehensive understanding of any issues discovered during the inspection process and minimizes the risk of unforeseen costs. 

With Zoom Home Inspections, you can rest assured that your home is in good hands with our thorough inspections that allow you to make an informed purchase decision. To schedule your inspection with us, click here to find a time that works best for you!