Plumber conducting sewer inspection.

What Is A Sewer Scope Inspection And Do I Need One?

March 29, 2023 4-minute read


If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, you have much to do during the process, from making offers to working with inspectors. You’ve most likely heard of a standard 4-point home inspection, but it’s easy to forget about another crucial checkup: a sewer scope inspection. It’s important to have your home’s sewer lines checked regularly to prevent future possible damage and to maintain a healthy home.

Below we’ve covered the most important details to know when it comes to getting a sewer scope inspection done and what to watch for.

What Is A Sewer Scope?

A sewer line scope inspection, or plumbing scope inspection, is fairly simple. A professional inspector will use a flexible borescope camera, which will allow them to see and record video of your pipes.

What is a sewer scope inspection infographic.

The camera will be run through the home’s main drainpipe and maneuver its way throughout the sewer lines. Your inspector will be looking for any visible cracks, damages or clogs, and will report any structural damage or health risks that come from your sewers.

A drain inspection can take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour, but it’ll depend on how large your home’s sewer system is and what the issues are.

You should plan on a plumbing scope inspection before purchasing your dream home, and plan to have them done routinely as your home gets older.

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Should I Get A Sewer Scope Inspection?

There are lots of reasons why you should get a sewer scope inspection. If you don’t get routine inspections done on your sewer, you should be aware of the potential risk. Getting routine inspections will help you avoid the following issues.

Structural Damage

A damaged sewer can be the source of structural damage in your home. For example, sewer pipes leaking in the crawl spaces could cause serious mold issues.

Below are common results of damaged or degraded sewer systems. They can also serve as signs of needing a sewer scope inspection done. 

  • Flooding in home or yard
  • Sinkholes
  • Foundation issues
  • Mold issues

Health Risks

A leak or backup in your sewer system can lead to many health issues. Below are a few health hazards that you may be exposed to if you leave your sewer system unrepaired.

  • Bacteria
  • Parasites
  • Sewage
  • Mold spores
  • Harmful gases
  • Fungi

6 Signals You Need A Sewer Scope Inspection

Potential home buyers should be aware of signs that a sewer scope inspection is needed before continuing the buying process. Below are the most common signals that the sewer system may be in need of repair or is close to being damaged.

6 signs you need a sewer scope inspection infographic

  • Rodents or pests: Has your house become home to some unwanted guests? Rodents are commonly found in sewer systems, so seeing them above ground could indicate clogging or other problems, not just infestation. You should also consider a pest inspection if you notice signs of pests in your home.

  • Water backups: Water backups in your house or crawl spaces can indicate damage or cracks in the sewer line.

  • Shifting or movement in the ground around your property: Soil movement caused by natural forces, like heavy rain, can create offset pipe joints. This can lead to clogging or leaks.

  • Lush patches of grass in your yard: Sewer water can actually fertilize your grass. If you notice a rich green patch of grass in your yard but the rest of your grass looks normal, it could be a sewer or septic leak.

  • Large trees in your backyard: Roots from large trees can grow around and compress the sewer pipe, either breaking or cracking it. Roots may even grow into small cracks, which can cause clogging or leaks.

  • House was built more than 25 years ago: Older homes (pre-1970s) are more likely to have sewers with existing damage or cracks. Homes built before 1984 may still have clay sewer pipes that can easily be cracked or crushed.

What To Look For In Your Sewer Inspection

The sewer inspection is typically recorded on a video feed, which you and the inspector will watch during the procedure or afterward. The inspector will show you where the damages or cracks are and explain next steps.

Below are some things you’ll want to look out for during the inspection process: 

  • Cracks or imperfections in the line
  • Blockages or clogs
  • Roots growing
  • Low areas in the drain (bellying)
  • Separation or failure of the line
  • Type of material used for the line (concrete, clay, etc.)
  • Issues with the septic tank

Sewer Scope Inspection Cost

Sewer scope inspection cost infographic.

The cost of a sewer scope will depend on a few variables, including where you live, the inspector you hired and details about your home. However, a sewer line camera inspection will cost on average $250 – $500.1

This may seem like a lot, but the cost of replacing your sewer drain or pipes is significantly higher. The average cost of repairing your sewer line is $2,556, which is comparatively higher than the inspection itself. 2

Unfortunately, these sewer repairs (such as a belly in the sewer line) aren’t typically covered by homeowners insurance, so you’ll need to pay out of pocket.

New homeowners should consider getting a sewer inspection done even if the home they just purchased is newly constructed. It’s better to be safe with a well-maintained sewer than to leave it unrepaired and rack up future costs.





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