Now with our new Sewer Scope, we can literally see into the underground sewer line and will be able to identify the type of sewer line and if there are any repair needs such:
Clogging -- Grease, hair, bath salts or food particles going down the sink or wipes down the toilet can accumulate or get lodged in the pipes causing water to back up. In a brand new home, construction debris can clog the sewer line as well.
Tree Roots -- Tree roots gravitate towards pipes because of moisture and can penetrate in the smallest crack, causing damage to the line and clogging.
Ground-Settling -- A shift in the soil due to digging, excavation, nearby construction or seismic activity can result in pipes bending and breaking. Also, improperly supported trenches can cause the sewer lines to sink or create low spots, often called “bellies." Fortunately, bellies are easy to identify via a sewer scope.
Ground-Shifting -- Sewer lines can detach over time. Ground shifting can happen for many reasons, such as seismic events or nearby excavations.
Old Pipes -- Older homes which still have its original sewer line made of cast iron, Orangeburg, clay tile or thin-walled PVC are now ready for repairs or replacement due to age and deterioration over time.
Poor Installation -- In new construction, the most common installation issues are improper joints and poorly fitted connections. A sewer line inspection can easily identify repair needs so you can alert the builder.
Plus, if we detect an issue, we’ll be able to pinpoint the location in the yard where repairs are needed.
Have your sewer line inspected, no matter what the age of your house
No matter how well-maintained a home is, there is only one way to find out the condition of the sewer line. Regardless of a home's age, it makes sense to inspect the sewer line before you buy your home. While every house can benefit from a sewer scope, we definitely recommend having this assessment done if you are . . .
Buying a brand new or newer house -- to confirm proper installation of the sewer line and that it's clear of construction debris
Buying a house built since 1990 -- to identify repair needs on older sewer lines such as deterioration, clogs, shifting/cracking/sagging and/or tree roots
Buying an older house built before 1990 -- to identify the presence and condition of old cast iron/clay tile/orangeburg/thin-walled pvc sewer lines and determine if they are ready to be replaced
Buying any house with mature landscaping and/or large trees in the front yard -- to identify tree roots which can lead to repeated clogging
Be sure to include a sewer scope with your home inspection -- you'll want to know the sewer line is in good condition and clog-free so that everything flows smoothly before you move in. A Sewer Scope can be the best prevention money you can spend. It will add a few dollars to your home inspection, but its hard to put a price tag on peace of mind. Instead of waiting to call a plumber when you're experiencing a plumbing issue (and then paying a much higher rate), our Sewer Scope fee is just $100 for a home on a slab or $150 for a home on a crawlspace when you add it to your home inspection -- just let us know!
Sewer pipes have evolved over the years, becoming more reliable. However, there are still potential pitfalls to watch out for.
Before 1970, many sewer lines were made with clay tile pipe. These pipes were set in the drain trench end to end from the house to the sewer main. Small gaps created at each pipe union created opportunities for root intrusion. This made it necessary to snake or clean these drains to remove these roots every 6 months to a year.
Many homes built between 1945 and 1972 used Orangeburg pipe for their sewer lines. Orangeburg is a fiber conduit made with wood fiber and tar pitch. Named for the primary manufacturer (Orangeburg Manufacturing Company located in Orangeburg New York), Orangeburg was an affordable alternative to metal for sewer lines.
The problem with Orangeburg was its general lack of strength. The product had a life expectancy of about 50 years, but in many cases would fail in as few as 10 years. Additionally, due to the fibrous nature of Orangeburg, snaking could tear the line causing greater damage and the pressure of hydro-jetting could destroy the line. As a result, Orangeburg has no longer been used for sewer drain applications since the introduction of PVC.
Thin-Walled PVC Pipe
In the 1980’s, sewer lines were being manufactured with PVC (PolyVinyl Chloride) pipe. This was a better alternative to Clay tile and Orangeburg because it was seamless, rigid and affordable. The only problem with early PVC sewer line installations was that the early PVC was thin and brittle. This product could fail under pressure causing the same issues associated with Clay Tile and Orangeburg. Today, this type of PVC is referred to as “Thin-Walled PVC”. Although it was an improvement over previous materials, its dependability was not reliable.
Thick-Walled Schedule 40 PVC
In the 1980's, the material 'Thick-walled Schedule 40 PVC' started being used for sewer lines and is still being used today. This type of PVC is more resistant to pressure, breakage and breakdown.
Buying a new or newer home? Plastic sewer lines are definitely better, but proper installation is key
Sewer line issues are far less common on newer homes, but they still do happen and are potentially expensive to remedy. The notion that “it’s a plastic line, so there won't be any problems” is completely false. Here are a few examples . . .
On a 2012 new construction home, the sewer line was all ABS plastic from the house to the sewer main. The line was sloped upwards for a span of 10′ and filled with rocks and sediment. It was a sewer backup waiting to happen. In this instance, the sewer line had to dug up and repaired.
A house built in 2005 had a major break in the ABS plastic lines. Repair cost was over $2000.
A home built in 1989 with plastic sewer lines had a disconnected pipe right after it exited the home.
Spend a couple hundred bucks on a sewer scope to avoid a potential sewer backup and thousands of dollars in repairs.
We can now see into your underground sewer line! Be sure all of the plumbing is in good shape before you move in -- add a Sewer Scope to your home inspection!
Thanks to evolving technology, we now have the ability to perform a sewer scope inspection (via video camera) while on-site at your home inspection! Even though you can't see it underground, the sewer line is a critical part of a home's plumbing system and when it isn't working right, watch out! Have you ever experienced a major plumbing clog? Not being able to flush the toilet and/or and having sewage back-up in tub/shower is not fun to say the least, having experienced it ourselves a time or two in our 1960's brick ranch! Out of sight can mean out of mind, so its good to remember that homeowners are financially responsible for the repair and/or replacement of their home's sewer line from the foundation out to the street where it connects with city lines or a septic tank.
A Sewer Scope can be the best prevention money you can spend. It will add a few dollars to your home inspection, but its hard to put a price tag on peace of mind. Instead of waiting to call a plumber when you're experiencing a plumbing issue (and then paying a much higher rate), our Sewer Scope fee is just $100 (for a home on slab) or $150 (for a home on a crawlspace) when you add it to your home inspection!
As part of your home inspection, we'll conduct our standard test of drain/sewer lines by flushing the toilets, running the showers and sinks to determine if the plumbing system is working as it should. However, the home inspector is limited by the amount of time he's at the house and by what he can't see.
If a house is vacant, the plumbing may appear to be working well during the home inspection. However, after you move in and starting using the plumbing on a regular basis day in and day out, you may find that there is an issue that couldn't be detected based on a couple of flushes alone.
Additionally, a change in the sewer line volume can have an impact. When a family of two moves out and a family of four moves in, that means more showers, more toilet flushes, etc. This type of added volume can be the tipping point that causes a damaged or constricted sewer line to finally back up.
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