Building products all have a limited service life and will fail someday. Many problems around the home give you clear signs of trouble and do not have a high cost of repair. Sewer lines are more difficult since they are not visible for inspection, are not inexpensive to repair, and back-ups can be evident one day and not the next.
Sewer scope evaluations are becoming an important part of a property purchase as they can prevent a high cost repair from becoming a hardship after move-in. A home inspection includes a “functional flow test” which is limited because it is simply not possible to replicate the demands that a family will impose on the plumbing system. Opting to have a sewer scope performed is the best way to avoid a big headache and a bank account extraction.
Most modern sewer lines are constructed of an ABS plastic piping with reasonably good durability and tightly sealed joints which are normally effective in keeping tree roots out. Older systems were constructed using cast iron, clay or a fibrous material known as “Orangeburg” piping which area all now potentially problematic due to their age. A sewer scope evaluation can help determine the material type, line condition, presence of any obstructions and the seal condition at the joint connections.
In our extensive experience performing Phoenix home inspections, the matrix for sewer scope evaluation decision making is:
- Property built before 1975 – Sewer Scan is a must for adequate risk reduction.
- Property built between 1975 and 2000 – Sewer Scan is highly recommended.
- Property built after 2000 – Recommended (especially if trees exist in yard).
Another important consideration is the equipment used for the sewer scope evaluation. In this area, equipment cost matters. Some inspectors are trying to get in on the action by purchasing low cost equipment and obtaining minimal training. We recommend that ALL sewer scope evaluations be performed by a competent licensed plumbing contractor with top-of-the-line scoping equipment.
One final note:
A few home inspection companies, like Advantage Inspection Service, provide free SewerGard protection with every full standard home inspection. This provides warranty protection for 90 days following the inspection and if a Sewer Scope is performed, the coverage is extended to 6 months from the date of the inspection. Now that’s a win-win!