Home Inspection

Why You Should Get a Sewer Scope Inspection

Homeowners are responsible for their sewer lines from the point they connect to the city line, which means damage or a clog in these pipes could lead to costly and stressful situations. Sewer Scope Inspection involves feeding a small, specialized camera through the sewer line cleanout to assess its condition.

Home Inspection

A sewer line is the biggest drain in your home, but it can also be the most costly if problems go untreated. Fortunately, you can prevent future damage and expensive repairs by having your sewer line inspected periodically. A professional can use a specialized camera to locate any issues, blockages, or other problems that may be present in your line, and they can give you the information you need to make repairs.

A standard scope inspection typically takes about an hour to complete and can be performed as part of a regular home inspection or as a stand-alone service. The process involves running a specialized camera attached to a long cable down your sewer lines to examine the interior of your pipes for signs of damage or clogs. Your inspector will then provide you with a report that outlines their findings, including recommendations for next steps.

One of the most common reasons to have a sewer line inspection is to prepare for a potential home sale. If your sewer lines are damaged, it could lead to expensive repairs for both you and the buyer. The best way to avoid this is by having a sewer scope inspection performed prior to making an offer on a new home. A professional inspector will be able to find any current issues with the sewer line and recommend any needed repairs, saving you both time and money.

Another reason to have a sewer line inspection is to identify any potential problems before you move into an older home. Homes built before 1970 may have Orangeburg or cast iron sewer lines that are prone to breaking, leaking, or developing clogs over time. Having a sewer line inspection performed can help you decide whether the home is worth purchasing or not and can save you from a major headache down the road.

Having your sewer line inspected can also be beneficial for existing homeowners. Fast-growing tree roots are the most common cause of sewer line blockage, and having an inspection can help you catch any problems before they become more severe. A regular inspection can also help you determine if your sewer line is in need of repair or replacement, which can save you thousands of dollars down the road.

Pre-Purchase Inspection

Many people do not think about the condition of their sewer line until something goes wrong. Damaged or poorly functioning waste piping can lead to expensive plumbing repairs, structural damage to the home and even health issues. Sewer scope inspections help homeowners, home buyers and realtors detect problems with a property’s sewer lines. A specialized contractor uses a camera attached to a snake-like cable to inspect the interior of the private sewer line that runs from the home to the public sewer line or septic tank. The inspector will look for clogs, blockages, corrosion, damage and other conditions that may require repair or replacement.

A standard scope inspection of a single-family residence takes about an hour to complete. It is typically included in a Pillar To Post® home inspection or performed as a standalone service. Homebuyers can request a scope inspection prior to closing to give them peace of mind about the home’s waste piping and to prevent costly surprises after moving in. Home sellers can also benefit from a specialized inspection before listing a home. The inspector can advise the seller on ways to improve a home’s drainage and sewer system performance to make it more appealing to buyers.

The interior of a waste piping system is not visible to the naked eye, so any problems with it will go unnoticed until they cause significant damage or a hazardous situation. Issues with a waste pipe can result from natural deterioration, tree or other plant growth, collapsed pipes, previous excavation and more. These issues are more common in older homes that have cast iron, terra cotta or Orangeburg piping, but they can also occur in newer homes.

A sewer scope inspection can be performed by a plumber who specializes in these services or by a licensed general contractor. The inspection begins with the technician locating the cleanout and access point. Then, they will clear away any obstructions, such as roots, and place drop cloths where necessary. Next, they will push the camera scope through the pipe. If the camera does not find any obvious issues, the inspector will be able to determine the condition of the pipe, including its internal diameter and the size of any breaks or cracks. The inspector will also be able to tell the homeowner if the pipe is made of a material that requires periodic maintenance, such as polybutylene or PVC, or if it needs to be replaced altogether.

Post-Purchase Inspection

Sewer lines are one of the most expensive home repairs. Getting a sewer scope inspection before you buy a new home can save you from unexpected costs down the road. Having a home inspector perform this service will help you determine whether or not the current owner of the property is responsible for any potential sewer line issues.

A typical sewer scope inspection involves inserting a video camera into the lateral drain line (private pipeline leading from the house to the municipal sewer line) and observing its condition. This inspection can reveal a variety of problems, including cracks in the pipe, root intrusion, broken or collapsed lines and more. It’s important to note that buried waste piping is often inaccessible, so these problems can go unnoticed for a long time.

During a home inspection, an InterNACHI certified inspector can run the camera through a homeowner’s lateral drain line and then provide a detailed, narrated video and inspection report that same day. The report will outline any damage the inspector observes and can be used to negotiate with a seller on repair costs or price adjustments.

A lateral sewer line can have a variety of problems, most commonly due to tree roots that invade the pipes and cause blockages or backups in the home. A lateral sewer line may also have issues caused by ground shifting such as earthquakes or changes in soil water tables that cause the drain lines to sink into the ground, which plumbers refer to as “bellies.”

Home buyers should always have a lateral sewer line inspection done before purchasing a home. This can help them determine if the current owners are responsible for the line, and if they’re not, it gives them the opportunity to include costs of repairs in the purchase agreement. In addition, the inspection can let a buyer know about any existing damage that could impact their ability to finance or insure the home. This information can help a prospective buyer walk away from the sale, or make an informed decision on how to proceed.


When a sewer line breaks or develops serious problems, it can cause costly repairs for homeowners and homebuyers alike. Because these lines are often located underground, they are difficult to view and inspect with standard home inspection equipment. However, a sewer scope inspection can allow inspectors to get an inside look at the condition of the pipes and see any damage or issues before they become worse.

Homebuyers should always have a sewer scope inspection performed before purchasing a property. These inspections can reveal important information that can help protect buyers from future costly damages and repairs, as well as give them peace of mind knowing they are buying a safe and sanitary home.

In addition to being able to detect broken or damaged lines, a sewer scope inspection can also show if a home’s plumbing system is up to code and in good working order. If there are issues with a home’s sewer line, it can lead to backups and other problems with the home’s plumbing that can cause health and safety hazards for residents.

A specialized camera is inserted into the drains and guided through the entire length of the sewer line. The inspector will flush the cameras with running water to lubricate them and reduce any risk of catching or damaging the line during the inspection process. After the inspection, the inspector will provide a report to both the homeowner and the real estate agent detailing any damage or potential issues that may need to be addressed.

Common signs of problems with a sewer line include:

Low water pressure or frequent clogs that don’t respond to traditional drain cleaners are indicators of a problem in the sewer line. Leaking or broken sewer lines can also lead to contaminated water in the home and a variety of other problems that could cost thousands to repair.

A sagging or bellied section of the sewer pipe can create blockages, especially when it is filled with waste that should go in the trash but was instead sent down the drains (think grease, disposable wipes, and other non-disposable items). Roots can also damage or break down a sewer line by growing into tiny cracks and feeding on the water and nutrients inside.