Sewer Scope Inspection: What It Is and Why You Might Need One
A sewer scope inspection uses a video attached to a snake-like cable to examine the home’s sewer line. This privately-owned pipeline leads from the house to the publicly-owned main sewer line or septic tank. Sewer scope inspection can reveal damage to the pipes, blockages, and other problems. It also can spot potential problem areas before they develop into serious issues or hazards. After the inspection, clients will receive a report with findings and recommendations. This allows homeowners, home buyers, and home sellers to act before extensive damage, health issues, or expensive repairs.
Health Risks of Sewage Exposure
When sewer lines are damaged or blocked, sewage can back up into the home. This water contains a variety of biological hazards that can cause intestinal, lung, and other infections. The moisture also creates the perfect growing environment for mold. Additionally, if backups go unnoticed, the issues can spread and expose people in the home to further health risks.
Health risks and symptoms:
- Bacteria cause diseases such as E-coli, typhoid fever, salmonella, and cholera. Symptoms of bacteria exposure include diarrhea, fever, cramps, vomiting, headache, and weakness.
- Funguses such as aspergillus grow in compost and can cause allergic symptoms and make asthma worse.
- Parasites found in sewage include roundworm and giardia lamblia. These parasites cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and fever.
- Sewage can contain viruses like hepatitis A, which causes liver disease.
- Harmful gases include carbon dioxide, methane, chlorine, nitrous oxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide. These gases can lead to a lack of oxygen in the home, causing sickness, disorientation, and even death.
- Mold spores can be extremely dangerous, especially to people with preexisting respiratory issues. They can cause or increase the severity of respiratory problems, as well as eye or skin irritation.
Structural Risks of Damaged Sewage Lines
Blocked and damaged sewer lines can also lead to extensive structural issues. Basements and flooring are especially at risk, and the resulting damage can be expensive to repair if not discovered early.
Structural problems from blocked, leaking, or broken sewage lines:
- Flooding in the home: Sewer backups can flood your home, damaging the building and your belongings.
- Flooding in the yard: If a sewer line beneath your property leaks, septic waste pools can develop.
- Sinkholes and indentations on property: Damaged sewer pipes beneath your property saturate the soil. This leads to indentations or even sinkholes in the land or pavement above.
- Foundation problems: Underground leaks near your foundation can cause shifting and even cracks to your foundation.
- Mold growth: Damaged sewage pipes can leak into your walls and create ideal conditions for mold to thrive.
Causes of Sewer Line Issues
5 main culprits that cause most sewer line issues:
- Roots: This is the most common issue for sewer line blockage. Fast-growing tree roots find their way in through the smallest cracks to feed off water and nutrients within sewer pipes. Having regular sewer scope inspections can help identify signs of root damage early and save on more expensive repairs down the line.
- Settling: Sewer lines that are located in an unsupportive or poorly built trench can begin to sag over time. This creates a spot called a belly where sewage can build up and create blockages.
- Ground shifting: Naturally occurring events such as excavating or seismic activity can cause the ground to shift. This can result in misaligning sewer lines, no matter how well they were first laid.
- Inferior pipe materials: You will often find pipeclay or concrete pipes in older homes. These materials are much more susceptible to issues than plastic pipes used in newer homes. A sewer scope inspection can spot inferior pipe materials and raise concerns for future issues.
- Poor installation: Unfortunately, sometimes sewer lines are poorly installed. Improperly fitted connections and severe angles along the pipes are among some of the most common issues. If your home sewer line is poorly installed, it’s important to identify this and make repairs as soon as possible.
This issue can worsen over time as regular wear-and-tear makes sewer lines more susceptible. The best way to check on the health of your sewer line and get ahead of issues is to have a sewer scope inspection by a certified inspector.
Signs of Possible Sewer Line Problem
Any of the following signs of possible problems with your sewer line should be investigated immediately.
- Sewer odors
- Sewage backups
- Slow drain
- Extra green patches in the grass
- Insect infestation
- Rat problem
- Indentation in yard
- Foundation problems
The Sewer Scope Inspection Process
To begin, your sewer scope inspector will flush running water through the sewer lines. This will ensure that the camera equipment will have lubrication and reduce the risk of catching on any debris. Additionally, the water will help float the camera, which will make it easier to push the camera through sewer lines.
Next, your inspector will establish an access point, check for leaks at that location, and place drop cloths. Before they begin, your inspector will also double-check camera equipment for damage.
During the inspection, the camera scope is pushed through the sewer line. Any blockages, issues, or defects will be carefully recorded and detailed in a thorough report. Your trained and certified inspector will also be able to provide suggestions for the next steps and will be available after the inspection to answer additional questions.
The Sewer Scope Inspection Cost
The cost of a Sewer Scope inspection will vary based on a variety of factors such as geographic location and age of the home. On average, a stand-alone sewer scope inspection can cost between $150 and $300. One-stop service home inspection companies will often offer discounted rates for sewer scope inspection and other services as part of a package. Home inspectors may also offer ancillary service add-on discounts for a full home inspection.