RiverLife Real Estate


To Scope or Not to Scope

Thanks to Jeremy Cook from On The Money Home Inspections for the guest blog! More and more, we are seeing buyers do a sewer scope on top of their regular home inspection. Jeremy outlines some of the potential problems here.

Whether or not you are buying a home this year, you may want to at least check with your existing home insurance company to see if sewer line problems are covered in your policy. If they aren’t, you may be able to buy an inexpensive add-on to your policy to cover this costly repair, in case of problems.

Sewer Line Inspections
What is it and why do I need it?

The main sewer line is the drainage pipe that carries the water from the plumbing fixtures to the city sewer for treatment. A sewer line inspection involves sending a camera through the main plumbing drain line between the house and the city connection.

These drain pipes are typically 80-100 feet long so there is a lot of potential for problems.

Some of the most common problems found in sewer lines are:

Poor Quality Materials

Clay pipes, asbestos pipes, cast iron pipes, and Orangeburg pipes are quite often deteriorated beyond repair.


Root infiltration can vary from a few fine roots at a couple of joints to complete blockages at nearly every joint. Roots can be cleaned out using an auger in most cases.


These can range from kids toys flushed down toilets to collapsed pipes.

Disconnected Joints

These are common. Even in newer homes joints can fail as the ground settles or heaves with frost. If the joint is disconnected and water can enter the surrounding soil, the base layer continues to destabilize leading to further movement and damage to the pipe.

You may think that the condition of the main drain line can be assessed during the course of a typical home inspection, but that’s just not so. Even though the home inspector may run the water from all of the fixtures, flush toilets multiple times, and run the dishwasher and laundry, significant defects can still exist in the main sewer line even though all the water has drained away. I myself have inspected three different homes where the buyers opted not to have the sewer line inspected, full replacement of the sewer line was required within one week of possession of the home at costs ranging from $16,000 – $20,000 each. I have done sewer inspections on countless homes where complete blockages were present, even in occupied homes!

You should always have a professional inspect the sewer line when buying any property, regardless of the age of the home. A sewer line inspection on an older home (1970’s and before) is an absolute must. There is a lower probability of finding significant defects in a newer home but these is simply no way to know without sending in the camera.

For the relatively low cost $150 – $350 you can enjoy peace of mind or even avoid substantial repair costs.

Jeremy Cook, CMI

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