A home buyer would not think twice about getting a general house inspection before they close a purchase of their new home. This is particularly true when an older home is under consideration and many potential buyers even have new homes inspected by an independent third party. An inspection is essential to discover existing and potential future problems that can be used for negotiation and evaluation. But, many home inspectors will not take a close look at the sewer lines which can be a costly mistake. In this article, we will explore the importance of a sewer inspection.
Why Would an Inspector Ignore the Sewer System?
A home inspector focuses on the current state of the home and general conditions. They will inspect major components and evaluate the life expectancy. This includes areas such as the building envelope, framing, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems and the condition of the structure. A report will highlight any major repair or replacement considerations for the potential owner. But, aside from noticing a dripping faucet in the kitchen or bathroom, the inspector is unlikely to identify any underlying plumbing problems.
This is because most of the plumbing system is tucked out of sight and specialized knowledge and tools are needed to carry out a proper inspection. It’s important to bear in mind that house inspectors are usually highly competent and have a great deal of general building knowledge. But, it’s impossible to be an expert on everything and they will focus on aspects of the home that they can see and understand.
Many house inspectors will not even recognize the sewer lines as a logical extension of the home plumbing system. This is a real problem, there could be a serious backup after you move into your new home and someone will have to pay the unexpected repair bill. This situation and other plumbing problems that could be lurking in the system can be avoided or mitigated if a sewer line inspection is carried out.
Avoiding Expensive Sewer Line Repairs
Many people wonder if they need a sewer line inspection before they purchase a house. When you consider the alternatives an inexpensive inspection looks like a real bargain. The sewer line is an important part of the plumbing system that many people overlook. If the inspection discovers a problem, the repairs can be expensive. But, knowing this in advance can be a negotiating tactic and/or fixing it at the seller’s expense can be a condition of sale. Spending your own money on an unexpected repair bill is a bad situation and this is exacerbated when you’ve just paid the usual moving costs.
The main causes of sewer line problems are tree root intrusions under the yard. Tree roots are constantly searching for sources of nutrients and even a tiny leak from the sewer line will cause them to grow towards it. The roots will then force their way into the pipe and grow to fill the entire diameter which will cause a sewer line clog. Other possible problems include sewer line collapses due to ground movement and aging pipes that need urgent replacement. In some cases, a trenchless repair may be possible and this will lower the costs. But, sewer line repairs can be expensive and you don’t want to be left with the bill shortly after the house purchase has been completed.
The Sewer Line Camera Inspection
Hiring a plumber to carry out a sewer line camera inspection is the best way to get a true picture of the health of the sewer line and connected pipes. This is a flexible fiber optic camera that is fed into the line and the feed can be monitored on a monitor. A built-in transponder allows the plumber to fix the location and depth of the camera from the surface. So, if a clog or blockage is located the plumber will know the exact position for a potential repair.
Fixing the Sewer Line Clog
If a sewer line clog is discovered, it’s important to understand that there are some non-intrusive methods that can be used to clear it. The plumber will advise you on the options which can be related to the seller and made a condition of sale to repair. In some cases, the clog may be easy to remove with a hydro-jet machine that uses pressurized water. It may be possible to physically remove the sewer line clog with specialized mechanical cutters. But, if the video inspection reveals a serious clog, a sagging pipe, or a collapse this will be expensive to repair. The area may require excavation to restore or replace the pipes back to a serviceable condition. This is a major undertaking, the landscaping may be affected and it may take a while to complete the work. If you invest in a professional sewer line inspection, you will know about these problems before you take ownership of the house.
How to Find a Reliable Sewer Line Inspector
When you need a sewer line inspection and expert advice, you need to choose an inspector that you can rely on. This can be tricky, because you may be moving to a new area where you don’t know anyone and people don’t tend to need these services frequently. So, how can you find a reputable person to carry out the inspection and prepare a report for you and the seller?
First, it’s important to pick a local plumber with extensive inspection experience and all the specialized tools that are needed for the task. They must be licensed and insured with sufficient cover for any unexpected mishaps that could cause damage and derail the deal. Bear in mind that this is a lot to ask when you’re paying for a relatively inexpensive service. But, there are fringe benefits, at some point, you will need professional plumbing services, and building a relationship with a reliable contractor is a smart move.
If you need to schedule a sewer line inspection for a prospective house purchase, contact your local plumbing company today.