Many sewer pipes laid before the mid 1980s were made of clay. Clay pipes are not overly watertight and are susceptible to cracking and root infiltration. In face, the majority of sewer problems can be attributed to nearby trees “rooting” their way into these easily penetrable pipes.
As part of many pre-purchase inspections, buyers hire companies to videotape the inside of a sewer line from the house all the way to the city tap.
According to Tim Simon, president of Sewer View in Denver, sellers should be aware that some unscrupulous scoping companies take footage of a sewer line of the home in question, but then present the tape of another far more damaged line. To guard against this, Simon recommends sellers require scoping companies take footage of the surrounding area in which the pipe is located just prior to entering the line. This way, sellers can be sure it’s their pipes.
We have learned from many past sales that it is best for sellers to have their sewer line cleaned prior to putting the house on the market. Be sure that the company cleaning out the line goes all the way to the city tap. In some Hilltop and Crestmoor homes, this could mean going as far as 150 feet. Many sewer companies only have 110 feet of clean out line. If the clean out company is not able to make it all the way to the city tap, any debris will pack and clog the line at the ending point, instead of being pushed into the city line. This is an unacceptable result.
Simon also advises homeowners to never hire a scoping company that also repairs sewer lines. This is a HUGE conflict of interest. As with most costly home improvements, get multiple bids for any repairs or replacements that are suggested. We have seen bids to replace sewer lines range from $5,000 to upwards of $13,000 (for the same house). Unfortunately, traditional homeowner’s insurance often does not cover sewer line replacement.
Fraud is rampant in this business, but we have year of experience clearing the way for our clients. We have replaced more sewer then they care to count. We have learned what to do and just as importantly what not to do – in this dirty business of sewer repairs.