Buyers often overlook getting their sewer line inspected before completing the purchase of their new home. It’s often assumed that it is part of the typical home inspection that is required by their mortgage or insurance companies. BUYER BEWARE, sewer line inspection is not included with a typical home inspection.
The job of the home inspector hired as part of the potential purchase of a home is to give a general outline of the conditions of the major systems in the house. This person is not necessarily a plumbing expert, and does not have the equipment to investigate the condition of your sewer line.
Scheduling a separate sewer line camera inspection from an experienced company using state of the art equipment is the only way to know the true condition of this most important system in your home.
Potential Sewer Issues
Homes that have large trees can have issues with tree roots growing in the sewer line. These roots are attracted to the water in the pipes, eventually growing inside the line. While this won’t break the pipe, it creates a barrier clogging the line. If the tree roots grow outside the pipe, the pressure from the massive roots can cause the pipe to break.
Know the type of pipe used for your sewer line before your purchase. Cast iron pipes deteriorate. Clay pipes often have gaps which are an open invitation for tree roots. Orangeburg pipes can collapse. Early PVC pipe, also known as “thin walled PVC” has proven to be much less durable than the PVC used today. Ideally, the line should be constructed from “Schedule 40/Thick Walled PVC.”
Even if the home was built in the last 20 years, you cannot assume your sewer line is in good condition. There is the potential for issues to occur due to faulty installation of materials.
Buyers, be on the lookout for:
- Turn on water full blast and flush the toilets at the same time. If water drains slowly or backs up into the shower, there may be an issue.
- Look for soft, wet spots in the yard, especially if it hasn’t rained. This could be a sign of a broken pipe.
The only way to be certain of the condition of the sewer line, is to get a camera inspection.
What are my options if there is sewer line damage on a house I want to buy?
Get an Estimated Repair Cost
Sewer repairs have a wide range of cost, ranging from a few hundred dollars to approximately $20,000. Finding an issue isn’t necessarily a deal breaker on the purchase of the home.
Is the repair the responsibility of the homeowner or the municipality? Having this information before you buy can save you time and money down the road.
Negotiate Repair Costs
Repairs can be handled a few ways. You can negotiate a lower price on the home based on your estimated cost of repair. You, as the buyer, can insist the owner repair the issues before the sale. In any case, you will have full knowledge of the condition of the sewer system in your new home.
The repairs may be too extensive. The owner may not negotiate on price. If you decide it simply isn’t worth the cost, move on.
Sewer camera inspections are fairly inexpensive, but sewer repairs can be one of the most costly repairs you can have as a homeowner. Always have a sewer camera inspection before purchasing your new home. Look for a company that only offers independent inspections and diagnostics but not repairs. This will insure they don’t have a steak in the game to “find” problems. Their job is simply to report the status of your sewer line.