Owning a home comes with a lot of responsibilities. One of the most important things homeowners need to stay on top of is the condition of their sewer line. While it’s easy to overlook and out of sight, your sewer line is one of the most vital systems in your home. If it becomes damaged or clogged, you can end up with backed up drains, sewage backups, and costly repairs. This is why regular Sewer Scan Inspections are so essential for property owners.
What is a Sewer Scan Inspection?
A sewer scan inspection utilizes a specialized camera to visually inspect the inside of your sewer line. The camera is lowered down into your sewer pipe through your cleanout. It then travels through the line, transmitting images to a technician above ground. They are able to view your sewer line in real time on a video monitor and look for any issues or defects.
sewer scan inspections allow technicians to evaluate the condition of your underground sewer pipes and identify any:
- Cracks or breaks – Longitudinal or circumferential cracks along the pipe can allow water to leak in and soil to infiltrate the line. These will worsen over time if not addressed.
- Misaligned joints – Pipes that have shifted due to ground movement or settling foundations can cause the joints to separate or misalign. This allows debris and roots to enter the line.
- Blockages – Buildups of grease, wipes, roots and other debris can partially or fully block the flow of waste. Identifying blockages early is key to avoiding backups.
- Root intrusion – Roots from shrubs or trees nearby can grow through cracks and joints into the sewer line looking for water. Left unchecked, they can cause major damage.
- Corrosion – Certain soils and sewer gases can corrode the inside of pipes over the years, leading to leaks, blockages and collapse. Older pipes are particularly susceptible.
- Bellies or dips – Low spots in the line can collect debris and water, leading to reduced flow and eventual blockage.
Why Regular Inspections Are Essential
Many homeowners only think about their sewer line when there’s an active backup or clog. But the key is being proactive through regular Sewer Scan Inspections. Here are some of the top reasons why it’s so important:
Identify Problems Early
The sooner pipe defects, blockages and root intrusions are identified, the easier and cheaper they are to address. Small issues that are caught early rarely require full pipe replacements. But if left undetected, they will continue worsening until complete repairs or relining are needed. Staying on top of your sewer’s condition through periodic inspections can save you thousands in the long run.
Avoid Backups and Overflows
Clogged, broken or root-ridden sewer pipes are a leading cause of sewage backups into homes. By inspecting the interior condition regularly, any problems can be pinpointed and corrected before they escalate. This allows you to avoid dealing with raw sewage flooding your basement or erupting up through drains.
Protect Property Value
An underground sewer line problem left unaddressed can quickly turn into an expensive nightmare. But homeowners often don’t find out until they already have raw sewage flooding their basement or yard. Disclosing sewer defects or history of backups can make selling a property difficult and hurt its value. Keeping your sewer line well-maintained through regular Sewer Scan Inspections maintains your home’s value by avoiding these issues.
Reduce Risk of Overflow Fines
If a sewer backup or overflow releases wastewater onto public property or waterways, local municipalities can issue fines for the contamination. In some areas these can be $10,000 or more if not addressed immediately. By staying on top of your sewer’s condition you significantly lower the chances of an overflow occurring.
Provide Peace of Mind
There’s nothing worse than coming home to a basement full of sewage because of a clogged or broken sewer line. This type of disaster can cost thousands to clean up and repair. Regular sewer inspections that identify potential problems early on provide major peace of mind by avoiding backups. You’ll be able to use and enjoy your plumbing without worry.
How Often Should Inspections Be Done?
We recommend a Sewer Scan Inspection every 3 years for most property owners. However, there are several factors that can increase or decrease this frequency:
- Pipe Material – Clay pipes are more susceptible to root intrusion and cracks than PVC or cast iron. Older clay lines should be inspected more regularly every 1-2 years.
- Pipe Age – Older pipes that are more than 50 years old have likely deteriorated over time. More frequent inspections can identify issues before failure.
- Nearby Trees – Trees and shrubs next to your home increase root intrusion risks. Annual inspections are ideal to monitor for invading roots.
- Previous Issues – If you’ve experienced prior sewer backups or repairs that were needed from a past inspection, reinspect more often to monitor condition.
- Heavy Rain – Inspecting after periods of heavy rain can reveal infiltration issues not seen during dry weather.
Discuss your specific situation with a reputable plumber to determine the ideal frequency for sewer inspections. They can factor in the age of your pipes, materials used, tree proximity and other variables on your property.
Sewer Scope vs. Assessment: What’s the Difference?
You may come across two similar terms when researching sewer inspections – sewer “scoping” and sewer “assessments.” Here’s the key difference:
- Sewer Scoping – This is a basic visual inspection of the interior of your sewer line using a camera. Also called video inspection, it allows a technician to view and identify any obvious issues or defects inside the line. Scoping alone usually costs $150-$300.
- Sewer Assessment – This is a more comprehensive inspection that often includes scoping. A full assessment inspects all accessible portions of your sewer line and drainage system using cameras and additional testing. An assessment identifies issues and also evaluates the overall condition and functionality of the entire system. Assessments range from $400-$700 on average due to the additional time and equipment involved.
In most cases, a sewer scope provides homeowners with actionable information at an affordable price. It can identify most common issues like roots, cracks, joint offsets and blockages. Full assessments are often recommended for older homes, those with known problems, or if a scope turns up major issues.
What If Problems Are Discovered During Inspection?
If your sewer scan inspection uncovers any serious issues with your sewer line, don’t panic. There are usually several repair options available depending on the type and extent of the damage. Here are some examples:
- Spot repairs – For isolated cracks or small sections of damaged pipe, plumbers can cut out just the defective portion and install a new piece of pipe. Requires excavating to access the line.
- Pipe patching – Products like Pipe Patch can seal leaks and reinforce weakened areas of pipe from the interior. Avoiding the need for digging.
- Trenchless relining – To reinforce long lengths of sewer pipe, trenchless relining installs a protective epoxy coating on the inside of the existing pipe. Renews function while avoiding excavation.
- Root removal – For minor root intrusions, cutting blades can remove roots and restore flow. Chemical root treatments help retard future growth.
- Full replacement – For completely failed pipes or extensive sections with defects, full excavation and sewer line replacement may be required.
The specific solution will depend on the size and type of issues found. Have a professional assess inspection videos and provide repair recommendations with cost estimates. They can help you determine the optimal solution that balances costs and benefits.
Protect Your Property with Regular Sewer Inspections
Your sewer line is one of the most important systems on your property. But because it operates out of sight, it’s easy to ignore until problems arise. Don’t wait for an emergency to assess your sewer line. By implementing regular Sewer Scan Inspections every few years, you can identify issues early while they’re still minor. This proactive maintenance helps avoid backups, overflows and expensive emergency repairs down the road. Your home and wallet will thank you.