Sewer Line Inspection: Affordable Diagnosis and Repairs
Sewer line inspection is one of the most underrated plumbing jobs. If you are buying a home, especially an older home, having a sewer line inspection done is one of the most important steps you should take prior to purchasing the property.
Like most plumbing systems, people do not worry about them until problems ensue. When it comes to sewer line problems, the prices for repairs can be exorbitant, costing homeowners over $5000 and often upwards of $25,000. A simple sewer line inspection can save homeowners from having to pay for these expensive repairs.
When home buyers decide make their offers, most are contingent upon inspections. Unfortunately, home inspectors only look in and around the home. They do not look at the sewer lines because it involves using a camera designed to get into the sewer lines. A homebuyer who truly wants to know what issues the home has will order this inspection, even if the home is brand new.
What Are Sewer Pipe Inspections & How Do They Work?
Sewer line inspections look into the pipe that connects the home’s sewer system to the main city sewer. The city line typically runs down the center of the street. The sewer pipes can be made of varying materials – everything from clay, concrete, or plastic. Concrete and clay pipes can crack and so can the plastic pipes. It is common for tree roots to damage pipes that travel through front yards. Pipes can also be damaged by shifting that can happen underground. When pipes are damaged, sewer pipes can have backups and they can also leak into the yard.
When plumbers like us at Scott English Plumbing inspect a sewer line, we use a flexible, fiber optic cable that is attached to a waterproof, lighted video camera. The cable can fit into pipes that are as small as two-inches in diameter and the rods can fit around the tight corners that some pipes take. The size and flexibility of the rod lets the specially trained technicians see everything in that happens to be in the pipe in great detail. The camera also shows the technicians if there are cracks in the pipe, too. The plumber is able to view these images on a television monitor in real time. You, the customer, can watch with the plumber and see inside your pipes. The high resolution camera is able to see problems clearly. The plumber can save the video to a flash drive for later reference.
Identifying Pipe Problems
Along with recording the insides of the pipe, the camera also lets the technician know where the problems are inside of the pipe. There is a radio transmitter in the rod and it tells the technician where the camera is, allowing the technician to note where any digging needs to happen to repair the sewer lines. This makes the repairs cost effective, because plumbers only need to look in a limited area to correct the problem. It removes the need to dig up the entire yard to fix the pipe.
The camera can identify every sewer pipe issue. It can tell the technician is there is a root in the pipe. It can also tell if there are buildups along the walls of the pipes. With buildups, pipes can slow down over time and eventually completely clog up. It is better to clean up the buildups before a clog happens. Many plumbers will do a second inspection after the cleanup has been complete to be sure it has been done satisfactorily.
The camera can also tell if the pipe has become misaligned or if it falls off-grade. The radio frequency will be able to see if angles have shifted. This type of problem requires more invasive repairs, but it is always better to correct this type of problem before the misalignment causes pieces of pipe to break away from each other.
A a full list of problems video pipeline inspections can identify include:
- Pipes that are broken, cracked, or collapsed and need to be replaced;
- Pipes that are out of alignment due to frozen ground or shifting soil;
- Pipes that are blocked due to foreign objects or grease buildup;
- Pipes that are corroded and are restricting water flow or are on the verge of collapse;
- Pipes that are bellied, which means that a section has sunk and created a valley where waste is collecting;
- Pipes that have leaking joints, which allow water to leak into the surrounding area;
- Pipes that are being damaged by the infiltration of tree roots;
- Substandard pipes that do not meet current grade and are constructed from outdated or subpar materials.