Sewer Line 101

Unexpected home maintenance can be costly and stressful. Of all the issues that can arise, most homeowners agree they’d rather not deal with fixing a sewer line. While regular maintenance can do a lot to stem problems from happening, sometimes breakdown and repair issues arise anyways.

When deciding on what inspection services to get for a home you’re buying or selling, it can be a wise move to add a sewer line inspection. Since sewer lines lie underground, they cannot be inspected fully during a visual inspection of the homes interior and exterior. So what exactly is a sewer line inspection?

The What and the How

During a sewer line inspection the condition of the sewer line is inspected. A skilled technician uses a specialized camera to check the portion of the line from the house to the street sewer main. Sewer scopes, aka sewer line cameras are highly advanced water-proof cameras that include on-board lighting, recorded video capability and a unique design that allows them to inspect up to 160 ft of plumbing or more.

The camera is fed through an access point at the home and searches the condition of the line as it moves through it towards the street main.

The Why

Cracks and clogs are what you don’t want to find on a sewer line. There are a variety of reasons a sewer line could become cracked or clogged.

  • Tree roots (can intrude through a sewer line)
  • Soil/ground shifting (can cause breaks or misalignment)
  • Aging terracotta, cast iron, Transite or Orangeburg piping (can become deteriorated and create fissures in the pipe)

When sewer lines are damaged, repair is imminent. In some cases the fix is relatively simple, and in others it could be costly and complex. According to Jack Burt, a septic and sewer line inspection specialist for over 30 years “besides root intrusion, we inspect the line for negative slope or “bellies, disjointed pipe segments, broken or disjointed curb traps and any deteriorating pipe sections. If structural damage has occurred, the pipe must be excavated and the damaged portion replaced.”

This is why getting informed with a sewer line inspection can be such a great assistance when inspecting a home. You’ll rest easier knowing the outcome of the inspection, and if any damage is found it could assist in negotiations!

By Chris Earley

Chris Earley is the Owner and President of Liberty Inspection Group based in Media, Pennsylvania. Liberty was named one of the Philadelphia 100 in 2017 by the Wharton SBDC, making them one of the fastest growing businesses in the Philadelphia area. Chris’ company is a full-service inspection team providing commercial and residential inspections in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.