Is it Important to have a Sewer Line Inspection
when Buying a Home?
When buying a home, new or a resale, having a general home inspection is pretty darn important.
The minimum inspection you should have, in my professional opinion, is a general home inspection. I believe you are taking a huge risk by not spending the money on this.
And there are plenty of other inspections and evaluations to consider during your due diligence period depending on the house, the overall condition, the age, and any concerns the inspector has or you personally have. Money for inspections is well spent and I have seen numerous times where buyers were very pleased they spent the money on inspections.
So what other inspections might you consider? These evaluations could include the roof, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, radon (perhaps more important in some areas than others), septic, well (if not community water), pool and spa, easements/property lines, the foundation, and fire sprinklers (if present).
One inspection to consider in some homes is the main sewer or drain line from the house to the street (you can read more about a home’s drain system here). This could be particularly important if the house is old and where the sewer line might be cast iron or clay, or could be damaged.
Another situation that might warrant a drain line evaluation is where the sewer line is running near trees in the yard; encroaching roots can damage the pipe itself, but can also clog the pipe, eventually leading to a backup into the house. This is NOT something you want to deal with and it could get expensive, especially if a main drain line has to be replaced.
The money spent on a camera inspection of the main sewer line from the house out to the street is several hundred dollars well spent (prices might vary by area and company). And it’s rather interesting to watch the live action on the camera screen. Plus you can get a video of the scoping on a thumb drive.
But not all plumbers and companies have the equipment necessary to scope a sewer line.
I’m certainly no expert but have seen several sewer line inspections. The plumber will send the camera connected to a long cable, with a light, down through the main sewer clean-out which may be located inside or outside the house.
The cable is connected to a screen that allows you to watch the entire process as the camera moves through the pipe out to the street.
One sewer line inspection led the plumber to exclaim that there was a “forest” in the main line, easily viewed on the camera screen; the pipe ran right next to a neighbor’s tree and was filling up with roots. Indeed, the plumber could not even get the camera all the way out to the street and was also concerned the pipe might be partially collapsed.
Doing your due diligence when buying a home is essential. A home inspection, and perhaps other inspections including scoping the main drain line, are a key part of your due diligence.
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