Buying – The Importance of a Sewer Scope

When buying a home, new construction included, I recommend that my buyers ALWAYS perform a sewer scope in addition to a regular home inspection.  A sewer scope is a very cut and dry inspection of the sewer line from the house to where it connects with the city sewer (usually located in the street).  Sewer issues can be very costly, upwards of $10K – $15K, depending on the severity.  A sewer scope will cost you about $250.

The scope is done using a plumbing snake that has a camera on the end of it.  The snake is fed through the house’s sewer clean out (usually located in the basement or a low point of the house).  If there is no clean out, the inspector can access the line through the vent (on the roof) or by removing a toilet.

The most common issue with sewers, especially in the Northwest, is tree root intrusion.  Tree roots get into the sewer line and debris can get hung up in the roots causing an obstruction which will eventually lead to a back-up of the line.  This problem is generally an easy fix by either jetting or using a cutting blade on the end of a snake to break up the roots/clog.  The next most common problem is a collapsed line (older homes) or improper installation on the line (newer homes).  Both require that the line be dug up in order to be fixed which again, can be very expensive.  These are issues you will want to discover BEFORE buying a new house.  I have seen BRAND NEW construction with sewer lines that were installed incorrectly and were leaking.

A sewer inspection is very straight forward as the camera does not lie.  It is either clean and clear or is clogged and/or collapsed.  The inspector will provide a DVD of the results or will post the results on YouTube for your viewing pleasure!

I have a video of a sewer scope on my YouTube channel.  This example was on a home build in 1927 and the entire line was trashed.  The final cost was $15,800 which we were able to negotiate as a reduction in the purchase price.  Had we not had the sewer scoped, there would have inevitably been a backup at some point followed by a $16K surprise!!