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As a home inspector, I give advice everyday.  One of the most important things I discuss with my clients are the limitations of inspections.  Some of the most expensive items that fail for home buyers are not visible during a typical home inspection.

Using a camera to inspect sewer systems is cheap insurance.

One of the additional items we talk about is sewer systems.  The best way to evaluate your sewer system is to have a expert use a camera to examine the line.  When a sewer system fails, the repairs can be very expensive, many costing tens of thousands of dollars.  This makes the cost / benefit ratio of having it scoped a no brainer for most homes.

We recently bought a property that has 2 buildings on it and since the original structure was built in 1930, I knew that the sewer inspection was a critical part of our purchase decision.  Now this was an unusual inspection, as this is commercial property, fully occupied and thus limiting the time we had to inspect each unit.  When we did the sewer scope we checked the longest line from the main building to the city sewer.  It looked to be in good condition and with that piece if information we moved ahead with the purchase of the property.

This cast iron sewer line is breaking from the top, and filled with earth. This damage appears to be caused by an old pipe and a contractor that recently installed this animal screening at the perimeter of the homes skirting. I am sure they knew when they did this screening that they damaged this line.  I know what pest control company I am never calling back.

So, fast forward a year, and the sewer is failing on the second structure, the main from the primary structure is fine, but due to the limited time and access we never got a look at the side sewer servicing the second structure. I should have insisted that we don’t rush the inspection and both sewer lines should have had a complete scoping.   Fortunately the line was not deep, so little digging and it has a simple sewer system to replace.
Next time, I am having everything scoped and I will take being rushed by the seller as a sign to slow down and methodically inspect every system.

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JJ Greive

JJ & Suzanne are both licensed, highly skilled inspectors and educators. We are the authors of our class curriculum, and truly enjoy sharing this with our students


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