Do I Need a Sewer Scope Inspection On a New House?
Date Published: September 8, 2022
So you’ve finally found your dream house. It’s a brand new home with the latest and greatest materials and finishes.
After your standard home inspection, you might think you’re in the clear to close on the deal. You probably don’t need to inspect the sewer line because, after all, it is brand new. Right? Well…
Having performed thousands of sewer scope inspections as a company, we have learned that you can never be sure about the condition of a sewer line – even in brand new builds. Factors such as installation error, damaged piping or debris can be present in new sewer lines, which could lead to huge issues and costly repairs down the road.
Why are Sewer Scope Inspections So Important?
How often are we really thinking about our sewer pipes? Residential sewer drainage lines are frequently treated with the common mindset – out of sight, out of mind. Sewer lines are one of the few major components of the home that are usually completely or partially unseen.
If a home has a crawlspace, you can often see a portion of the sewer line. But once the line leaves the foundation, it travels underground and out of sight. The point is that, unlike many other components of the home, you can’t simply look at a sewer line from its exterior to determine its condition.
That’s where a sewer scope inspection comes in! A sewer scope inspection involves using a specialized, high definition camera that is attached to a long line of fiber optic cable.
The camera is run down through the residential sewer piping until it reaches the main city sewer line or septic tank. A sewer scope technician is able to observe the condition of the line in realtime on a monitor as they guide the cam through the line.
A Scott Home Inspection Sewer Scope Technician performing a sewer scope from a roof top plumbing vent.
Sewer scopes are important because you can never be 100% sure of the sewer’s condition unless you physically look at it.
A homeowner is responsible for their sewer from their house until it meets the main city sewer line. Sewer lines, of course, vary in length from house to house. But in a lot of cases, they are 100 plus feet. When considering a long, plastic pipe that runs underground with outside pressures acting on it (such as rocks, roots soil, other construction features etc.), it’s not hard to imagine the potential issues that can occur.
Sewer repair can be one of the most costly repairs associated with a home. Depending on severity, prices for full line replacements can range from $10,000 to $40,000. When buying that dream home, the last thing you want is to be slapped in the face with an expensive repair bill right from the get go!
That’s why knowing the condition of the sewer line before purchasing a new home is worth its weight in gold.
Sewer Issues in New Builds
Now don’t get it confused – a newly built house will generally have a sewer line that is in great condition. And simply knowing that information has helped countless clients proceed with their purchase with an extra comfort and peace of mind.
But on the contrary, we have discovered many unexpectedly damaged or defective sewer lines in new builds, as well. Take the picture below for instance, which was taken during a scope on a newly built house.
The picture shows two segments of PVC piping that are significantly misaligned, creating what is called an offset. As you can see, the misalignment has already created a low area in the line, which is infringing on the flow of liquid through the line. Our sewer scope technician would call out a defect like this for further evaluation from a plumbing repair specialist.
An offset like this can occur for a number of reasons. Maybe the pipe segments were improperly fitted together. Or maybe the piping was laid on an uneven slope. Soil and rocks could have shifted around at the construction site causing significant pressure on top of this segment. Whatever the reason may be, it is indeed a problem area.
Even if this defect has not caused any detrimental damage thus far, based off its current condition, serious drainage concerns and even pipe damage could occur in the future.
Significant offset present in sewer line.
When technicians send that camera into a sewer line, they never know what they are going to get. We have seen foreign objects and debris of all shapes and sizes. Objects from construction sites such as towels, tools, rocks and even a Modelo beer can (yes we have seen that) have found their way into new drainage lines.
The picture below is especially surprising. It is a full tube of caulking! Notice how it is almost the full diameter of the ABS plastic piping. That has “potential blockage” written all over it.
Upon discovering an object like this in the line, our sewer scope tech will call it out for immediate removal. If this tube can not be cleared out of the line with a high-pressure jetting or root cleaning technique, excavation will be necessary. See how one defect could cost a home owner some serious bucks?
A tube of caulking found in a sewer line.
Sewer Scope Inspections are a Must!
Here at Scott Home Inspection, it is our mission to help Colorado families live in safe, healthy, and comfortable homes. We want to help our clients make the most informed decision possible when purchasing a home. That’s why we believe that a full inspection of all aspects of the home is invaluable.
So if you ask us: Do I really need a sewer scope inspection on a new home? We will surely answer YES.
If you are under contract or in the market for a new home, we hope that you will consider Scott Home Inspection for all of your home inspection needs, including, of course, sewer scope inspections. To book your services today, click here.
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Chris Kimmel worked as an Associate Home Inspector for two years, handling numerous services including sewer scope inspections, pest inspections, mold air sample testing, radon testing, and water quality testing. Chris now works with Scott Home Inspection as a Content Writing Specialist.
Corinna Bolton Fieger is a real estate agent based in the Denver area. She combines her years of experience in the housing industry with her extensive background as an educator to provide a top notch buying or selling experience to all of her clients.