Why Is It Important to Get Your Sewer Scoped Before Buying a Home?

There are a lot of precautions to take before buying property for sale in Alpine, TX. Checking the title of the property for liens, having boundary reports pulled, walking through a home inspection—all of these protect the buyer against making an investment that traps them.

One of the often-overlooked precautions to take before buying a home is to have the sewer line scoped. This is an “out of sight, out of mind” problem that often gets buried under concerns that are more visible, like a malfunctioning furnace or a sinking driveway slab. Nevertheless, it’s critical to have your sewer line scoped before closing on any sort of property transaction deal.

Problems Lurking in Your Sewer Line

What you can’t see in regards to your sewer lines can have dramatic effects on your home and your wallet. There are two chief problems with sewer lines that aren’t always apparent to prospective homebuyers:

  • Clogs in the sewer line caused by sediment buildups or root intrusion
  • Cracks in the line caused by age, root intrusion or earth compaction

Both of these problems can lead to everything from back-flowing effluent coming into your home to waste pouring out into your property, causing soil instability, erosion and contamination. Either way, it’s a messy problem. Even worse, sewer line issues are expensive to remedy, often costing between $5,000 and $10,000 due to all of the excavation, remediation and labor required to set them right again.

How to Tell if You Have Sewer Line Issues

Because sewer lines are buried, they’re hard to inspect. You can’t exactly ask the owner of a property for sale in Alpine, TX if the lines are in good condition, either—they’re not liable to know or, worse yet, they could lie if they know there’s a problem.

The best thing you can do is to have a plumber or a home inspector scope the lines. This means feeding a live-feed camera down into the depths of a sewer line to see if there are any root impediments or debris buildups that may pose problems for you, the potential buyer. If the camera turns up nothing, you’re likely good; if there’s visible damage or the potential for trouble, it might be worth negotiating on repairs or home price.

What Can Be Done About Sewer Line Issues?

Damaged sewer lines need to be replaced—there’s no getting around it. Old clay piping needs to be retrofitted for safer PVC and any damaged junctions or sections of pipe need to be refitted. This requires excavation, which is where the costs start to add up.

For buyers who take the time to scope a sewer line, it’s absolutely worth negotiating with the seller about repairs before the house changes hands, or about lowering the price based on the cost of sewer line repair estimates. If the seller agrees, you’ll want to act fast on repairs once the house is yours. If they decline, it might be time to move on and find a home for sale without such an invasive project.