What is a sewer line inspection and do I need this when buying a home in Olympia, WA?

A sewer line inspection in the purchase of a home in Olympia, WA is another inspection buyers can have performed to determine if there are any problems with the sewer line that runs from the house to the city sewer line.  Homeowners are responsible for this section of the sewer line. 

I asked George Sharrett of Sound Choice Home Inspections to do a demonstration of how he does a sewer line inspection using a line with a camera at the end to see the inside of the pipe.  In the video, he accessed the sewer line by opening the clean-out pipe, but other common access points are through a roof vent or a vent in the crawlspace.

George, why should a buyer or a seller have a sewer line inspection?

A sewer line scope is a great diagnostic tool that provides a clear visual inspection of the pipe.  You can find out if it is a functioning sewer line or not. 

If one or two people were living in the home, they may not have noticed any problems even though they may have a blockage; but if the new owner moves in and there are suddenly more people who are taking more showers and using the bathroom more, then this blockage could cause sewage to back- up into the home.

What houses should have this inspection?

Houses of any age can have issues with the sewer line.  I’ve seen pipe get crushed in the back-fill process in brand new homes.  Homes built in the last 25 years (1980s) used PVC and ABS pipes (plastic pipes) but before then other common pipe materials were cast iron, Orangeburg, terra cotta and concrete. 

One of the issues with these non-PVC pipes is because the joints are not glued, they are more susceptible to root intrusion.  Roots can take a while to get to the pipes but they can intrude in 5-6 years.  Homes with a lot of trees near the sewer lines should be scoped.

What are the main causes of sewer line blockages?

·         Damaged pipes that are deteriorating due to age and materials used, crushed, cracked or misaligned.

·         Root intrusion.

·         Rats or other animals.  Rats can chew through any pipe, even concrete.

·         Toys and other things not meant to be flushed down the sewer line.  (George had the experience of finding action figures in the line!)Toys in the sewer line

What do you do if an issue is found?

If an issue is found, I have a locating device that is like a metal detector.  I am able to find the exact location of the problem and then pinpoint the depth of the pipe.  This prevents having to dig up the whole yard trying to find the blockage or damaged pipe.

I’d like to thank George for demonstrating this sewer line inspection. For additional information, please contact George Sharrett at Sound Choice Home Inspections (360) 561-0951 or email him at George@soundchoiceinspections.com.


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