Is a sewer line inspection worth the money?
Sewer line inspections in the state of Colorado are important. Why you ask? The answer is because a homeowner is legally responsible for the maintenance of the sewer “lateral” (the sewer line) from their home to the sewer main at the center of the street. This is the case in any home or neighborhood. Everyone has their own. The biggest sewer line risk that you take if you don’t have the lateral inspection done before you buy a home is that it can be a very expensive repair once it’s too late.
If you are a first-time home buyer, your realtor should highly suggest that you ask for a sewer line inspection before purchasing. This type of inspection is usually not something buyers think about. We all get traditional home inspections, and sewer lines are a complete after thought, if it thought about at all. If the home you are looking to purchase is an older home, a sewer line inspection is truly one of the most important inspections to conduct.
Some underground sewer pipes are metal, some are clay. The problem with the later type is they are not sealed at the joints. Another type of material that was used in really older home was a tar paper called Orangeburg pipes. These pipes disintegrate and collapse over time. If your inspector finds Orangeburg, they absolutely must be replaced! One last, somewhat unique scenario on an older house might be that it was built prior to city sewers and relied on a cesspool. After cities installed public septic systems, sometimes the cesspools were left intact and connected to the sewer line. You won't know this unless you have the sewer inspected.
Sometimes sewers can have cracked pipe lines. One of the many causes of this can be when there is not a lot of rain, which can definitely happen in Colorado (not this summer!), causing a drought. This makes the ground surrounding the sewer pipes contract causing the pipe(s) to break or collapse. Another more common cause can be tree and bush roots infiltrating into a sewer line and blocking the flow of the pipe. 60% of sewer problems are because roots block the flow.
There are definitely companies, like plumbing companies, out there that you can hire to do an underground video of the entire sewer line that you are responsible for, and it will capture any or all damage. Plus the video will most likely be supported by a full written report that you can use in your real estate dealings. NOTE: Do not hire a company to camera the sewer if that company also does sewer line repair. You will get a false report of damage to the line. The Neir Team endorses Hydro Physics.
After you know you are a-ok and can go ahead and buy your home, you can also buy insurance for as low as $12/month to cover costs if a sewer line does in fact get blocked or if a water pipe bursts after you move in.
If you are worried that this might happen to you, ask yourself or your realtor these 8 questions:
1) Was the home was built in or before the early 1970's?
2) Are there mature trees or bushes in the front or on the side of the property?
3) Is there cracked or raised concrete anywhere on the property?
4) Has the home ever been vacant for a longer period of time?
5) Have a large number of people ever lived in the home at once?
6) Is the seller disclosing any past sewer problems or maintenance?
7) What does your home inspector think?
8) Can a recent permit be pulled on the line(s)/sewer?
Bottonline is, a $85 - $300 sewer line inspection is a lot cheaper than a surprise sewer repair for $1,000s!