Should I Get a Sewer Inspection Before Buying Property?

As realtors in Alpine, TX, we often get asked whether one should have a home sewer inspection performed when they purchase a home. The answer to this question is just about always “yes”—it’s an extremely wise move, regardless of the age or condition of the property, simply because it could end up saving you quite a bit of money and headache down the road.

Sewer lines can suffer quite a bit of damage over the years due to pipes shifting and cracking, collapses, worn-out materials or tree roots invading the pipe. Repairing a sewer line that has suffered some level of damage could become extremely costly, so you’re going to want to know about these risks before you purchase the property.

Usually, a sewer inspection will not be included with a regular house inspection. You’ll have to specifically request this as an add-on service if the home inspector provides it, or you’ll need to seek the services of a specialist who handles this type of inspections. The cost will generally be anywhere from $200 to $450 depending on where you live.

About sewer lines

All homes have sewer lines that are buried underneath the ground. These pipes take the wastewater from your sinks, toilets and washing machines away from your home to the treatment plant in your municipality. There are several different types of sewer lines:

  • Cast iron pipes: These types of sewer lines are generally found in older homes and neighborhoods, though they are still sometimes installed in modern houses. They are capable of withstanding more pressure than other pipe materials, but are also susceptible to corrosion. They’ll usually last 30 to 50 years.
  • Clay pipes: These pipes are also found in much older neighborhoods, though they are still very rarely installed today. They are heavy and difficult to work with, which is why more areas are turning to plastic materials. While they are highly resistant to chemical degradation, they are also much more susceptible to being damaged by tree roots.
  • Fiber conduit pipes: These pipes are made out of tar paper, and are also referred to as Orangeburg pipes. They were frequently used from 1950 through the early 1970s, at which time they were mostly replaced by PVC pipe. It is developed out of different layers of wood pulp compressed together. They can last around 50 years in optimal conditions.
  • Plastic pipes: The most common types of plastic pipes are ABS and PVC, with PVC being the most common type of pipe used in homes built around the United States today. They are smooth and inexpensive. Their smoothness makes it less likely that tree roots will attach to them, but they are also more prone to breakage than other types of materials.

In your sewer line inspection, the inspector will determine the kind of piping you have, the condition those pipes are in and whether there is any cause for concern about their condition in the near future.

For more information about sewer line inspections, contact a realtor in Alpine, TX today.