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What You Need to Know about Sewer Scope Inspections

An informed home buyer may know what a home inspection entails, but they may not have heard of a sewer scope inspection. These inspections are not typically part of a standard inspection process. However, one may be recommended if any of the signs listed later in this article appear.


What is a sewer scope inspection?

A sewer scope inspection is simply an inspection of the plumbing line that carries waste water (from kitchens and bathrooms) to the public waste water system. A professional technician sends a special camera through the piping and sewer to check for damage, or flow restrictions.

Why should homeowners have their sewer inspected?

Most homeowners are unaware that the underground sewer line on their property is their responsibility. The vast majority of sewer lines are used for decades, but are never inspected. This is especially true of homes built over 50 years ago, when cast iron drains and clay piping were standard. Rust, wear and tear, backups, and dumping of corrosive materials can all compromise the integrity of the sewer line under a home.

A damaged, backed up, or leaky sewer system can cause health concerns, including:

  • Bacterial, Viral, and Fungal Infections

  • Parasites

  • Inhalation of Harmful Gasses

  • Exposure to Mold

  • Nausea and Vomiting from Foul Odors

Repair Costs

Damage caused by failing sewer lines can be very expensive. Clean up after a flood, and foundation repairs from sinkholes are not uncommon. According to, the average national price of a new septic tank and installation is $6,361. For pipes with extensive damage within the home, additional repairs such as flooring and drywall will drive up mitigation costs even further. Additionally, the national average for foundation repairs is $4,500, but of course, this number can skyrocket depending on the severity of the problem and does not include having to decontaminate a home.

Signs you may need a sewer scope inspection

One of the most tell-tale signs that there are issues with the sewer is the smell. If you notice a rotten sewage smell in and around the drains of your home, consult a professional. In addition, look for the following:

  • Standing or slow draining sinks and tubs

  • Constantly have to plunge a toilet

  • Foundation cracks, which may be an indication of soil movement due to saturation from a leaking waste line

  • Unexplained patches of thriving grass and/or weeds in the yard during long dry spells

If you are a homeowner, routine inspections should be done every few years, or more frequently if your home is older than 50 years. A s a home buyer, due diligence would not be complete without a sewer line inspection. See a sample report to help give your client an idea of what to expect.

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