A big potential hidden cost when purchasing an older home is having to replace or repair sections of the underground sanitary sewer line. Homes built before 1970 normally have a clay tile sewer line (if it hasn’t been replaced) from the home to the street.

These lines are laid end to end so tree roots commonly grow in between the ends and eventually create a blockage that backs up the sanitary line into the house. Snaking or sewer jetting the line is the first step in solving this problem when it occurs, which requires a clean out access in the main sanitary line – typically but not always found in the basement.

If the clean out is not present, one may need to be installed. If the snaking of the line does not clear the blockage or the drain continues to back up, requiring frequent snaking or jetting, then most likely the problem is that the sewer line is damaged and may need replaced – tree roots damage the brittle clay tile drain pipe and/or disturb its slope to the street and/or end to end connection of the drain pipes rendering jetting/snaking ineffective.

If the earth below the piping has washed or eroded away, then a large dip or “belly” in the line may not allow the line to functionally drain to the city sewer main in the street. The same thing can happen if two adjacent pipes become offset with respect to each other. Unfortunately a home inspection will not determine the condition of a sewer line and it is specifically NOT INCLUDED in your inspector’s standards of practice.

Replacing a sewer line can cost several thousand dollars and it is not covered by your homeowners insurance. It is therefore highly recommended that if you do not know the condition of the sewer line and you are purchasing an older home to get the sewer line drain camera inspected during the home inspection.

We can do this for an additional charge as long as we have clean out access on the interior of the home’s sanitary line.

This is a Buyer’s nightmare – if not identified during the inspection contingency as this can’t be detected during a Home Inspection without a sewer camera. If you fast forward to the end you can get a better picture of the damaged line.