Today, we are going to talk about inspecting your sewer line before you buy your home, especially if you are buying an older property.

The last thing you want to do is spend an additional $2,500 to $10,000 after you’ve moved into your new house to accommodate a sewer line problem. I recommend having a small operation inspect the sewer line with their cameras. Large franchise operations tend to recommend replacing the entire sewer line, which is just more money in their pockets.

One problem you might encounter is tree roots growing into sewer lines. Roots crawl into tiny openings and expand in the sewer line, latching onto other debris that typically cause backups, such as grease or eggshell waste. Sometimes chemicals can kill the tree roots. However, if the roots reappear, the pipe may be damaged and require excavation to fix the problem. Another option is to have the lines snaked once or twice a year to avoid backup.

Another common problem is a belly in the sewer line. A belly is a low area or sag in the sewer line that has lost its positive slope for drainage. This can be caused by a number of factors. It should only be corrected if the belly is truly causing an actual problem, not just lacking perfection for a short distance. A low area holding a half-inch or so of water for 3 or 4 feet is likely not going to cause a major problem. Consult a licensed plumber after having the sewer line scoped to determine how much of an issue the belly really is. “You need to get your sewer lines inspected.” If you’re buying an older home, those sewer lines were often installed in sections or segments. When a connected section does not line up perfectly with the other it is considered “off-set”. Not all instances of “off-setting” are a problem. Avoid evaluations from large franchise companies and look to a reputable licensed plumber to determine the extent of the issue.

Older homes also tend to have sewer lines made of clay or cast iron, which erodes from the inside. Not all older sewer systems will need replacement anytime soon, and not all systems will need a full replacement. You can get away with partial replacement.

Again, because the cost of sewer line replacement is high, we recommend you have your sewer line examined by a professional via camera as part of your home inspection process. Then have a good professional plumber take a look at it.

If you have any questions, give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!