Obtaining a sewer scope can be one of the most cost effective ways to prevent unnecessary future expenses for a new home owner. Sewer lines break over time, so it’s best to figure out if your new home has a problem with its sewer line before you close your real estate transaction. Repairing a sewer line can cost up to $20,000 or more, so it’s critical to get a sewer scope before closing on your purchase agreement. If there is a problem, you can negotiate with the seller for replacement costs before it becomes solely your problem. Sellers of a property may not even know that they have a problem, so it behooves you to do your own due diligence by having your own sewer inspection.
Sewer Scope Considerations
We will make every effort to complete a sewer scope for you during the home inspection process. If the sewer scope cannot be completed because of legal or safety limitations, the full fee for the sewer scope will be refunded. If defects such as root intrusion, breaks, or offsets prevent the sewer scope from reaching the main sewer lateral, the sewer scope will have been successful in finding significant defects and the full fee will be charged.
- Accessible clean out. Please ask the seller or current occupant to locate a clean out and to make it accessible before the home inspection. Older clean outs may be buried or rusted shut. Home inspectors are not legally allowed to cut caps off of rusted clean outs.
- Crawlspace. If a clean out cannot be found on the exterior of the home, we will look for one in the crawlspace. If there is a minimum of 24 inches of headroom between the hatch and the clean out in the crawlspace, we will likely be able to complete a sewer scope in that location.
- Plumbing Vent. If a clean out is not available, your inspector may be able to conduct the sewer scope through a plumbing vent on the roof (2 inches diameter pipe or larger). Please note that in accordance with OSHA safety regulations, your inspector will not attempt this for any roof over 1 story high and/or with a roof pitch greater than 6:12. Icy or slippery roofs will also restrict access for safety reasons. Because of multiple turns in the pipe, a sewer scope conducted through a plumbing vent may not be able to reach the main sewer lateral.
- Pulled Toilets. Please note that unless a home inspector is also a licensed plumber, they cannot legally pull a toilet in any home in Oregon or Washington. You can ask the seller or a licensed plumber to pull the toilet in advance if you would like.
Please note that the inspector’s job is to find defects in the sewer line, not to figure out how much it will cost to repair. If defects are found, a reputable sewer contractor should conduct their own locate in order to bid for repairs.