Sewer Line Inspections – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Sewer line inspection

Importance of Sewer Line inspections

As a home buyer you are presented with a variety of inspection options to consider while having a Home Inspection. There are considerations and systems that are out of scope of the typical home inspection, services such as Wood Destroying Insect (Termite) inspections and Radon Testing are two of the most common ancillary services. Another important service that is often overlooked is the Sewer Lateral Video Inspection, this inspection involves running a specialized camera through the lateral drain line inside the home to the location where it connects to the main service pipe. You may be asking “why is this inspection necessary?”, the answer to that lies in the fact that the sewer line is buried underground, it is not visible and knowing it’s condition, understanding how that may effect performance, what repairs may be necessary and costs to repair are not possible.

Several factors to consider when making the decision to order a Sewer Video Inspection:

Sillted and corroded old pipe & Root Ball Clog

1.      As a home owner, you are responsible for not only the pipe inside and under your home, but the entire length of the pipe to where it connects to the main drainage in your street, neighborhood or development

2.      There is a lot of old pipe at homes in our area, and types that degrade faster than others.

3.      Even newer pipe may be installed improperly.

4.      The cost of repairs typically starts at about $3500.00 and may be as much as $20,000 or more depending on factors such as length of the line that requires repair and how much hard scape, concrete and roadway needs to be replaced after excavation and repair.

A significant number of the homes you may be considering where built anywhere from 50-100+ years ago, their drainage systems may be cast Iron, Clay/Terracotta, or composite materials like Orangeburg or Transite. Each of these have their own age related issues that increase the likelihood of failure as they age. Even newer homes with PVC drainage pipe may fail due to improper installation, damage due to contractor activity, tree root penetration or using substandard material.

Blockage and pipe separation

The cost to repair these issues is complicated by the fact that the pipe, more often than not, requires excavation. The excavation part of the repair adds to the repair cost because you will be responsible for repairing hard scraping such as concrete walkways and streets after excavation. These costs are significant and although at the low-end repairs costs may start at about $3500, the average repair cost is likely $10,000-$12,000 and could exceed $20,000 at the high end.

There are a number of conditions that require repair, broken and leaking pipe, corroded and flaking pipe, root balls, separations between pipe sections, silting and restrictions to name a few. So I may only require hydro jetting or other cleaning services, while others require excavation and repair.

The cost of these repairs approaches the level of many foundation repairs, an item that is usually a major concern of most homebuyers, so why are you not aware of concerns about sewer lateral lines? The most obvious reason is that the pipe is not visible and it is human nature to ignore things that you cannot see. Another consideration is that buyers are often told, “just buy sewer line insurance coverage”.

Problem with this second line of thought has several considerations:

1.      Insurance coverages are not equal and may have limitations of what is covered and limits of liability. For instance, if you pay for coverage through your water/sewer provider, they typically only cover the repairs from the foundation to the city connection point, pipes inside your home that may require excavation under slabs or inside walls are NOT covered.

2.      Coverage from your homeowners insurance company may have pre-existing condition clauses or other limitations.

Understanding the risks of waiving sewer lateral inspections and what you can do to mitigate financial risk is important for every system in our homes, after all that’s why we do inspections in the first place. Understanding everything about the performance and condition of your home allows you to make decisions that protect you and your investment. Unless you are purchasing in one of the few townships in the area now requiring the seller to conduct this home inspection as part of the Use and Occupancy Certificate process, every home buyer should consider the option of having the sewer line video inspected. 

When it comes to sewer line inspections, Batten to Beam is the go-to provider that can help property owners ensure the proper functioning, safety, and longevity of their sewer systems. With their expertise and advanced inspection techniques, Batten to Beam is dedicated to delivering high-quality services that meet the needs of their clients and contribute to the overall maintenance and value of their properties. Please give us a call at +1 484-573-7194 for more information about Batten to Beam’s sewer line inspection services or to schedule an appointment.

Professional Home Inspection Services

Inspecting the properties for more than 30 years