What is a Sewer Scope Inspection?

November 27, 2020

The best way to determine the condition of your sewer line is with a sewer scope inspection, in which a sewer scope inspector guides a drain snake fitted with a camera into your sewer line to look for signs of pipe damage. A sewer inspection performed by a trained professional is the best way to evaluate the condition of below-ground pipes in your home, or a home you are considering buying. If there is any pipe damage, a plumber can use the inspection report to begin the process of pipe repair or replacement. 

Have plumbing problems? Bad odors and sewage backup are telltale signs that you need a sewer scope inspection. 

While problems with your HVAC system and other home systems and appliances are easily recognized, it may not be obvious that your plumbing is in need of repair. But there are a few signs you can look out for: 

Bad odors emanating from drains. Bad odors can indicate that there is a leak in your sewer line, allowing waste and pungent smells to seep out. It may also indicate that sewage has settled and not cleared the pipes. If you detect an odor, pipe damage or blockage is a real possibility. 

Water and sewage drain slowly or backup completely. If you notice pooling water when using the faucet or shower, or your toilet will not flush, then you may have a sewer blockage or serious pipe damage. Repeated water backups even after using a chemical draining solution, plunging, or drain snake means you should consider a sewer scope inspection.

A sewer pipe can be damaged in a number of ways. Older plumbing is especially prone to damage and corrosion.

Over time, sewer pipes can rupture due to age, or other factors including shifting soil, settling, and traffic or use of heavy construction equipment on roadways above ground. These factors can lead to various problems, including:

  • Pipe corrosion
  • Pipe sagging or collapsing
  • Joint seal wearing
  • Tree root infestation

If your home is a few decades old and the plumbing has never been repaired or replaced since the home was built, then there is a good chance you will experience issues due to the age of the pipes. 

Additionally, homes built prior to the last four or five decades may have clay sewer pipes, which are more prone to damage than plastic and cast iron pipes. Clay pipes are expected to last 50 years, while plastic pipes can last 100 years or more.  Knowing what type of material the pipes are made from can clue you in to the potential of damaged pipes. 

But the age of the home does not tell the whole story. It is possible that your sewer lines were repaired or replaced more recently. You can still experience plumbing issues caused by damaged pipes even if the pipes are newer, though this is less common.

If it turns out that your sewer lines are indeed older—possibly as old as your home itself—ordering a sewer scope inspection is the best way to determine the condition of pipes.   

If the sewer line is damaged, repair costs can exceed $10,000.

When it comes to the cost to repair a damaged sewer line, the scope of the damage is really important. The damage may only affect one section of pipe, in which case just that section will have to be repaired or replaced. More extensive damage can require digging up and replacing the full sewer line, from home to street, and that won’t be cheap

This is why the cost to repair a sewer line has a wide range, from $2,000 to $20,000—generally, the less you have to repair, the less you have to pay. 

Your plumber may recommend trenchless repair. Trenchless repair is often cheaper than trench repair. It’s also the more efficient repair method, as you won’t have to deal with digging any dirt or breaking any concrete. Trenchless repair is not feasible in every situation, so be sure to discuss your options with your plumber. 

A sewer scope inspection is the first step in determining sewer pipe damage. The process is fast, inexpensive, and a great way to determine the cause of your plumbing woes. Once you know the extent of the pipe damage, you can effectively repair the issue before it becomes even more expensive to fix.

If you need a sewer inspection, contact North American Home Services today! Our highly trained inspection professionals can locate pipe damage and provide you a detailed report of their findings. 

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