Do we need a sewer camera inspection?

22 Replies

Just received this message from our inspector.

"I wanted to recommend a sewer camera inspection. This would identify any blocks, breaks or if there is any debris in the main sewer line. Would you be interested in having this done? It would be an additional $250 and it comes with its own report and video of the sewer line."

We are purchasing a 2006 townhome on city sewer. Is this sewer inspection even necessary?


This is a pre inspection sales pitch.  Given the home is 2006 I would tend to say no.  If you have large trees front/back that may change the calculus a bit.  If you see signs of water damage in the basement (if there is a basement) you may change your mind.  We do this on older homes (like 70+ years old as a matter of course.  But on the newer homes not really needed.  

@Tammy Harper

It sounds like a sales pitch butttt does the property have overhead or underground electrical service? I work in the electrical construction field and we have to cross the private side of the sewer lines about 50% of the time for underground electrical service. To paint a picture for you if the energy source ( pad mount transformer, handhole or pedestal) is on the opposite side of the property of the meter. This means the crew installing the underground electrical pipe had to cross the private sewer(also water and gas) and it may have been bumped or nicked with the excavator when creating the trench. I’ve hit a few sewer pipes and left trench open for builder to get a plumber to repair. I don’t stay around to see the repair but this is done after city inspection has been passed so only a patch job is done. I don’t think another inspection is done, maybe so maybe not?

Check your CCR/HOA docs and see if the association is responsible for the sewer line to the street before you pay the sewer scope. If not, if I was purchasing the property I would pay for the scope. I'm a broker and I've seen too many new properties with crushed lines and issues on new construction for me to risk not scoping any line I'm responsible for with sewer or septic. It's a few hundred dollars of insurance to prevent thousands of dollars potentially in problems and hassle. A simple no-brainer.

@Tammy Harper $250 is a small price to pay. We just recently did a flip and the home had cast iron pipe that was rotted. Had to put a liner in one pipe 37’ and the price to do this was 18k. If we would have caught this during the inspection period it could have been negotiated or we could have let the deal go.

@Tammy Harper

@Tammy Harper

I wish I had the sewer ling scoped. Would have saved me $17,000 or so for the new sewer line. Do it. Don't be cheap when it comes to inspections. They will always help you. If they Do find something, great! That will be a big bargain chip in negotiation. It's only $250!!!

what would you rather have, a piece of mind for $250 or potential 5 digit plumbing bill in some years? i mean, you're, most likely, paying several hundred thousand dollars for this property and fretting about a $250 expense that could save you a lot of headache later... 

@Tammy Harper

ive recently repaired a slab leak in my personal home. i will have all of my properties scoped from now on. its so cheap relative to the repairs if something is missed. Its really a no brainer IMO.


@Tammy Harper I never did sewer line inspections on houses without indication of problem, because I buy houses built after the 19080s. I used to assume that the PVC drain pipes were not susceptible to roots or other issues like the old clay metal pipes. Then a couple years ago I had a $6000 repair on a PVC pipe that had roots growing into it. The problem happened at a joint. Most likely the pipe was either not installed correctly or moved over time. The scope cam revealed that a previous owner had cleared the pipes before but not dealt with the problem. The offending tree wasn't even standing anymore! The stump was 30 feet away. Lesson learned here is do not make assumptions. A sewer cam is cheap insurance. I am not sure on the cost though. My RotoRooter guy will do it for under $100.

@Tammy Harper sewer line scope is an important part of the inspection that shouldn’t be skipped. I’ve done a sewer scope on every one of my personal deals (except one that we had no inspection contingency on) and I always strongly recommend buyer clients have it done. I’ve seen all kinds of unexpected things, even new builds with sewer line issues, so just because the property is 15 years old doesn’t mean the sewer line is perfect or doesn’t need to be inspected (especially if the property is in Texas, which has a lot of areas with expansive clay soils that can damage a sewer line). Because the sewer line is something that can’t be seen without a scope and is difficult/expensive to repair or replace, scoping it is a cheap way to find out if the property is in need of an expensive repair or replacement in the near future. Best couple of hundred bucks you can spend as a buyer, IMHO.

@Nick C.

I dont think its a waste of money considering that the sewer line is could be pvc. The problem with PVC is that bellies can be created in the line regardless of the age. The bellies could be a problem for the water drain flow.

Year of the house does not define if the sewer line was ever replaced the date that structure was built. Yes there are builders out there who are building new structures on old but functional sewer lines.

@Tammy Harper I own a plumbing business and this is cheap peace of mind. There could be serious problems that cannot be seen without a camera. We bust holes in slabs everyday repairing broken sewer lines for thousands of dollars. $250 for a camera inspection is cheap, too. We do them for $400 which includes a hydrostatic pressure test. Do not listen to the people that call it a “waste of money”….

I guess if you’re buying one house it’s not a big deal to do the inspection. But If you’re planning on doing volume it’s not a good investment. 
In our case we’d be in the hole around $250,000 (1,000 houses x $250 per inspection). Out of around 1,000 houses we’ve been burned twice on sewer lines, and spent about $15,000 on repairs. So I guess we’d only be in the red around $235,000. Still not a good investment.