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Is a Pre-Purchase sewer line inspection money well spent?

Q: Someone suggested having the sewer "scoped" on a home I am purchasing, in addition to the many other fees and inspections I am paying for already, so I am hesitant. I have never heard of this. The house was built in the late '40s. Is this really necessary, and is it cost-effective?

A: This type of inspection is gaining in popularity for potential home buyers, but the vast majority of them still do not have this work done, many with the same reservations as yourself. Is it worth it? Personally, I think it is very cheap insurance. Within the past few years, all homeowners-insurance carriers (except for one) have eliminated the sewer line from coverage, exposing owners and buyers to greater liabilities. In a typical sewer, the building "owns" the sewer line all the way to the tap in the street. This means a repair can involve not only digging up the yard, but also the sidewalk and half the street, along with the ensuing municipal permits and inspections.

A $20,000 repair is not unheard of, and costs can exceed this quite often. Obviously, a home inspector cannot see the buried sewer line, and running the water and flushing the toilet do not test the line adequately. Hydro Physics runs a full color video camera through the underground piping from the building to the city main and produces a full color documented video and a computer generated report of our findings. The videos can be put on a disc or uploaded for you to view.