A home inspection is pretty standard practice for home buyers. When you are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home, you want every corner inspected to ensure you know what you are buying. And, if you purchase a home with a septic system, it’s also standard practice to have that system inspected by a professional. However, what do you do if your home is on the municipal sewer system? Do you simply trust that the sewer lines are all in good working order?
According to Dwayne Boggs of Boggs Inspection Services, the answer is no. Boggs has been inspecting homes in the South Sound for more than 14 years. He knows his way around a home and offers clear, concise and accurate home inspection reports for prospective buyers. And, when needed, Boggs advises home owners when it’s a good idea to hire a professional – electrician, plumber or roofer – to look deeper into an issue. And, often, in a home 20+ years old, he recommends a sewer scope inspection.
A sewer scope sounds like something that happens on your worst day as a home owner – a very smelly, bad day. However, a sewer scope is an easy inspection that can ensure you avoid that terrible day when your sewer system fails, causing smells, damage and ultimately a massive repair bill.
What is a sewer scope?
“Essentially, a sewer scope is an easy inspection of the interior of a home’s sewer lines from the home itself out to the connection to the mainline in the street,” explains Boggs. While the septic inspection is “standard” and a no-brainer when buying a home, the sewer scope is not. Yet, it’s one of the most important steps for people purchasing a home that is older than 20 years.
Over time, many things can happen underground to the sewer lines without anyone knowing. Smart home buyers will want to know about all the systems – especially the sewer. “All kinds of things can be detected by a sewer scope,” shares Boggs. “Tree root invasion, pipe breakage or pipe collapse can all be seen during the inspection.”
Tree root invasion is one of the most common problems in the lush climate of the South Sound. Roots from nearby trees and landscape shrubs can creep into tiny cracks and openings in the sewer line and begin to expand. Beyond the cracks, the roots can create “traps” for debris travelling down the sewer line, creating backups and clogs. Ultimately, the roots will cause breakage in the lines leading to leaks and line failure.
Purchasing an adorable bungalow built before 1950? These include sewer lines made of a tar paper substance called Orangeburg pipes. Over time, these pipes disintegrate and collapse. The only way to determine if an older home (60+ years) still has Orangeburg pipes is with a sewer scope inspection.
A sewer scope can ultimately save you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in repair, excavation and landscape destruction. “The inspections typically run about $200 to $250,” shares Boggs. “That’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind that your sewer lines are in good shape, possibly saving you thousands in future repairs.”
Historic bungalows and sprawling mid-century ranches are desirable in today’s market for unique and character filled homes. But, they come with hidden risks. The simple sewer scope process can put your mind at ease that the sewer lines are not one of those risks.
The inspection is simple. A certified professional will insert a long cable camera with a light on the end down your drain and all the way through your pipes to the city sewer connection. Typically, the inspection is recorded and you and the inspector can review numerous times to ensure you catch it all.
Before you get too grossed out by the idea of looking inside your sewer line, it’s important to note that typically, they are pretty clean. Depending on the size of your home and the distance from the street, the scope could take as little as five minutes but if significant issues are detected, it could be a longer process.
Ultimately, spending a few hundred dollars before committing to your home purchase is a small price to pay to know your sewer is in good working order. No one wants to host a housewarming party with their sewer system backing up.