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(ABS & PVC) has been the primary type of pipe used since the 80’s, any home built before 1980 could have aged and outdated cast iron or even clay piping.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.

Pre-Listing Inspections help both the Sellers and Buyers

Most home inspections are purchased by buyers, but sellers can benefit from a pre-listing inspection as well.  A pre-listing inspection provides sellers with honest and unbiased information about their property, allowing more control and timing over repairs and potentially strengthens their negotiating position. Additionally, this helps the seller and their agent to price the home more accurately by accounting for any uncorrected issues.

What is the difference between a pre-listing and a pre-purchase inspection?

The only differences are who the customer is and when the inspection is conducted.  As the home is intended to be part of a real estate transaction, all the same TREC rules and SOPs apply.  By conducting the inspection prior to putting the home on the market, now the seller is aware of the condition of the home and there are no surprises during the option period.

What is the fee for a pre-listing inspection?

The fee is the same as a pre-purchase inspection and varies with the size and age of the home.

What is the value to the seller to have a pre-listing inspection?

The pre-listing inspection allows the seller, and their agent, the opportunity to resolve the issues or have them accounted for in the listing price. The seller can then decide which issues should be corrected prior to listing and which should be accounted for in the pricing.  Additionally, more upfront information will minimize the stress of listing and negotiating any potential issues.  Homes that have had a pre-listing inspection completed will generally sell quicker and have fewer inspection-related issues to negotiate.

What is the value to the buyer to have a pre-listing inspection?

The purpose of an inspection is not to allow further price negotiations. It is to ensure the buyers know what they are buying in greater detail than provided during a 10 minute showing.  By being provided the information in a pre-listing inspection, buyers are provided more facts to work with, and therefore their decision to purchase is made in a more deliberate manner.  Additionally, the buyers can always have their own inspection completed if they want further clarity on some items or to verify the items were appropriately corrected.  Remember, inspections are a snapshot in time and many things can happen to a home during the months the home is on the market or waiting to close.

What should be disclosed from the pre-listing inspection?

While this is more a question for the agents representing the seller, in our opinion the entire report should be shared.  Our reports contain a vast amount of information about the home that would not be termed deficient and hence, not in need of repair. Buyers would greatly appreciate information such as the life expectancy of the roofing shingles, the location, age and capacities of the major appliances as well as where shut-offs or disconnects are located.

Thermal imaging technology uses an infrared camera to document temperature variations in different objects and surfaces. These cameras are used in many applications and professions, one of them being home inspections. Thermal imaging in home inspections provides a more thorough inspection report because it can detect hidden issues that affect your home.

Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections Finds Air Leaks

Air can leak out through the tiniest openings around doors and windows. This reduces energy-efficiency because conditioned air is lost and the AC or furnace needs to work harder to replace it and keep your home comfortable. Small gaps and cracks are generally not visible to the naked eye, but an infrared camera will detect the temperature differences in these vulnerable areas.

Moisture Problems

A leak in a pipe behind the wall is often invisible until serious water damage has occurred and damaged your drywall. An infrared camera can help catch a leak in the early stages so that it can be repaired before it causes major damage and mold. The damp area will show up as a cooler color temperature than the rest of the wall.

Electrical Issues Detected by Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections

Electrical problems are one of the most common causes of house fires, so it is critical to get them fixed. Thermal imaging detects dangerous hotspots in the electrical system that can’t be seen otherwise.

Inadequate Insulation

Over time, insulation in the walls, ceilings, and floors may deteriorate, sag, or collect moisture. If this happens, the home will be less energy-efficient, and heating and cooling costs will be higher than normal. A thermal scan reveals areas where insulation is lacking or has gotten wet, so you can pinpoint precisely where it needs to be replaced.

When hiring a home inspector, ask if they use an infrared camera during home inspections. It’s best to choose an inspector who uses this tool so you get the most comprehensive information about your property.

Solidium Inspections provides Houston and the surrounding areas with home inspections, including thermal imaging. Contact us to request our services.