What is a Sewer Camera Inspection?
A sewer camera inspection, or sewer scope inspection, is fairly simple but provides invaluable information before a home purchase. A camera will be run through the home’s main drainpipe and maneuver its way throughout the sewer lines to the municipal sewer or septic tank looking for any visible damage, cracks, or blockages. While it can take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour, it will depend on how large the home’s system is and what the issues are.
What are the indications that I should get a sewer camera inspection?
There are plenty of reasons why you should get a sewer scope inspection before purchasing. The primary being that a sewer line replacement could cost thousands of dollars but there are indicators that it is absolutely needed. Here are some red flags.
Previous soil or structural movement: This type of movement can damage pipes or offset the pipe joints. If the sellers disclose previous foundation repair, you should absolutely have the sewer line looked at. With the amount of movement that requires foundation repair, it is almost guaranteed those sewer pipes moved and could easily be damaged.
Slow drainage or backups: While a single slow drain is normally a localized issue, it could also be an indication of a partial blockage in the sewer pipe. With a normal inspection, the amount of water run through the system may not catch a partial blockage in the sewer line. Only a sewer camera inspection will.
Greener patches of grass: Rich green patches of grass could indicate the waste water is leaking into the soil. While good for the grass, cracks and damage in a sewer pipe are not only unsanitary but they can also lead to other issues.
Large trees: Roots from large trees can grow around and compress the sewer pipe, either breaking or cracking it. Roots may even grow into the pipe through cracks and joints, which can cause blockages.
Older homes: While we have seen homes have sewer line issues within a year of construction, age is probably the biggest indicator of probable problems. We recommend a sewer camera inspection at anything older than the 15-20 year mark. Most people have NEVER had the line inspected and 15-20 years is a long time for soil movement, root growth and chances that something has gone wrong. While plastic (ABS & PVC) has been the primary type of pipe used since the 80’s, any home built before 1980 could have aged and outdated cast iron or even clay piping.
Rodents or insects: Rodents and insects are commonly found in sewer systems, so seeing them above ground could indicate clogging or other problems, not just infestation. Roaches are the primary culprit that enjoy living in sewer pipes. If there are roaches in the home, they could be entering through a cracked or damaged sewer line.
What is the cost of a sewer camera inspection?
In the Houston Metro area, the average cost is $400 according to Manta Home Services. We normally charge $300 for a sewer camera inspection but if it is bundled with a home inspection it is only $150. We include a report and the full video of the inspection for you as well. Additionally, by using us at the time of the home inspection, you know you are getting an un-biased assessment and not someone trying to sell you a repair. While this may seem like a lot, but the cost of replacing your sewer drain or pipes is significantly higher. The cost of repairing your sewer line can easily run into the thousands of dollars.
Who should get a Sewer Camera Inspection?
Everyone who is purchasing a home would do well do have the sewer line inspected. New homeowners should consider getting a sewer inspection done even if newly constructed. We have seen where heavy equipment has damaged the line before anyone moved in. We have also seen debris piled up in the line because they didn’t take care when installing the piping. Older homes may have been damaged over the course of time, there could be blockages that manifest after you move in or there could be obsolete piping that was installed. Even septic tank systems still have a sewer lateral that runs from the house to the tanks. Septic tank companies do not inspect that line. They only inspect the tanks and distribution fields.