If you are looking at buying a home that is 20 years old or older, you probably already know that you should get a home inspection before you make your final purchase. However, are you aware that a regular home inspection will not tell you about the condition of your sewer lines? If you are buying a used home, we recommend that you get a sewer inspection. Doing so could save you a lot of money and a huge headache.
Typical Problems in Sewer Lines
While new homes generally don’t suffer from these issues, homes that are 20 years old can experience problems with tree roots. Homes that were built earlier than the 1960s or 1950s can also have additional problems, including the following:
- Tree root nets: When a tree root is small, it can work its way into your pipes through a slight seam or tiny crack. As the root grows, it creates a net that traps debris flowing through your pipes. After a while, the accumulation will effectively block the flow of water.
- Broken pipes from tree roots: Once you've had a root cut out, it doesn't end the problem. The root can grow back into the pipe many times over. Moreover, the growing root can cause bigger cracks or holes in the pipe that allows other roots in or that allows sewer water out.
- Old pipes: Homes that were built 50 or more years ago most likely did not use PVC pipes. If the pipes were made out of cast iron, they could corrode and the water minerals could calcify. If the pipes were made out of Orangeburg, they could disintegrate or collapse. Either situation can cause huge plumbing problems.
Inspect for a Potential Problem
As a homeowner, you can determine if there is a bigger problem with your plumbing system by completing the following quick inspections:
- Turn all the water faucets on full blast then flush all the toilets at the same time. If the pipes are clean, they should be able to handle the force of water going down all at once. If the water drains slow or backs up into the shower, you may have a problem.
- When it hasn't rained for a while, take a walk around the yard where the sewer pipes are likely to be. Look for any soft or mushy spots in the ground. The water has to come from somewhere, and it may be a broken pipe.
- Get a camera sewer inspection. The video camera will capture real-time images of the condition of your pipes. If there is a problem, the camera will reveal the exact location and nature of the issue.