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Sewer Camera Inspection

Updated on July 12, 2012
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There are hundreds of things to consider when you’re purchasing a new home. Getting an offer to purchase accepted is hard enough -- but it can sometimes quickly start to seem like it was the easy part. After your offer has been accepted, you should have your home inspected by a professional. And, in many cases, that home inspection should include a sewer camera inspection of the home’s sewer lines.

Purpose

Generally, a sewer camera inspection is performed to find out if there are any obstructions or other problems in the sewer lines. Obstructions can be caused by roots that have infiltrated the lines over the course of many years. Other problems include pipe separation or cracks in the line. The inspection should show whether the sewer line is working properly and allowing waste water to flow away from the home into the sewer system.

Repairing a collapsed line or removing a dense root ball can be expensive, costing thousands of dollars. Repairing extensive damage can cost even more money. However, the inspection may result in finding minimal inclusions in the line that can be easily remediated with a simple snaking of the sewer line, costing only a couple hundred dollars.

How It Works

The sewer camera inspection basically consists of running a miniature video camera through the sewer cleanout into the sewer line. The sewer cleanout is usually located inside the home in the basement or crawlspace. In some cases, it’s located just outside the home. The video camera feeds back to a small television camera through which you and the inspector may watch. The inspector should be able to explain to you what exactly you’re looking at on the screen, as it may not be obvious to the layperson.

Cost

A sewer camera inspection generally costs between $125 and $200. Considering your home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in life, it makes the sewer inspection well worth it. This is especially true if the camera specialist finds a problem in the sewer line that you can use to have the seller meet you halfway or cover the cost of the repair.

Finding an Inspector

Generally, the professionals who perform a sewer camera inspection are plumbers. A simple online search should be able to provide you some names in your area. If your real estate agent knows the neighborhood well where sewer line problems are common (due usually to age of the homes or the type of sewer pipe used in the municipality), he or she may be also to recommend a trustworthy inspector as well.

It is a good idea to schedule your sewer camera inspection at the same time as your general home inspection. The sewer camera technician and general inspector should be able to work in tandem to provide a comprehensive report of any problems. In fact, your general inspector will likely want to watch the sewer inspection as well. By combining both inspections, you can save time (rather than schedule separate appointments) and obtain for yourself a better home inspection report that includes both the general findings in the home and any potential unseen problems in the sewer lines.

Overall, including a sewer camera inspection as part of your pre-purchase home inspection is well worth the upfront cost. It can uncover any potentially expensive repairs to help you leverage the price of the home or simply walk away if you don't want to commit to making expensive repairs.

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