How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes
Does a home inspector check sewer lines underground?
Sunday, April 12, 2020
A home inspection is primarily a visual examination of a home and underground sewer lines are not accessible to view. Also, the Standards of Practice for home inspectors in the State of Florida, along with the two national home inspector associations (ASHI and InterNACHI), do not include sewer line inspection as a required part of a home inspection.
Home inspectors do test the drains in a home to make sure they flow freely. We test the drain plumbing primarily by doing stress tests, such as turning on the bathtub and sink faucets and flushing the toilet, all at the same time. Or filling up a sink and checking for leakage around the collar, then opening the drain to look for leaks at the slip joints. But a defect in the underground drain piping, such as tree roots getting into the pipe or cracking from age or impact damage, can’t be discerned by simple drain stressing.
If you have concerns about the underground drain piping, particularly the main drain pipe running from the house across the front yard to the sewer connection at the street, a video evaluation of the condition of the piping is a good idea. Most plumbers and some home inspectors have a plumbing snake with a video head to evaluate the drain piping in older houses. Starting at a vent pipe on the roof, they can snake down through the house drain system and then out to the sewer connection at the street, checking everything from the inside.
It can be entertaining to watch as the camera lens traverses the pipe bends, occasionally coming upon roaches scurrying away or looming tree roots. And you finish the video inspection with the peace of mind that your drain system is sound—or an additional line or two on the home’s repair list. The cost is usually $250 to $500.
Also, see our blog post What makes a house fail the home inspection?
Click on any of the links below to read other articles about what is required to be included, or not, in a home inspection:
AFCI •• Air conditioner •• Ants •• Appliance recalls •• Appliance testing •• Attic •• Awnings •• Barns and ag blgs. •• Bathroom exhaust fan •• Bonding •• Carpet •• Ceiling fans •• Central vacuum •• Chimneys •• Chinese drywall •• Clothes dryer •• Dryer exhaust •• CO alarms •• Code violations •• Condemn a house •• Crawl space •• Detached carport •• Detached garage •• Dishwasher •• Docks •• Doors •• Electrical •• Electrical panel •• Electromagnetic radiation •• Fences •• Fireplaces Furnace •• Garage door opener •• Garbage disposal •• Generator •• GFCIs •• Gutters •• Ice maker •• Inspect in the rain •• Insulation •• Insurance •• Interior Finishes •• Grading & drainage •• Lead paint •• Level of thoroughness •• Lift carpet •• Low voltage wiring •• Microwave •• Mold •• Move things •• Help negotiate •• Not allowed •• Outbuildings •• Paint •• Permits •• Pilot lights •• Plumbing •• Plumbing under slab •• Pools •• Questions won't answer •• Radon •• Range/cooktop •• Receptacle outlet •• Refrigerator •• Reinspection •• Remove panel cover •• Repairs •• Repair estimates •• Retaining walls •• Roaches •• Rodents •• Roof •• Screens •• Seawalls •• Septic loading dye test •• Septic tank •• Sewer lines •• Shower pan leak test •• Shutters •• Sinkholes •• Smoke alarms •• Solar panels •• Specify repairs •• Sprinklers •• Termites •• Toilets •• Trees •• Troubleshooting •• Wall air conditioners •• Walk roof •• Washing machine •• Water heater •• Water pressure •• Water shut-offs •• Main water shut-off •• Water softener •• Water treatment systems •• Well •• Windows •• Window air conditioners •• Window blinds •• Wiring
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about PLUMBING:
• How can I protect my pipes to keep them from bursting during a hard winter freeze in North Florida?
• Why is there sand in the bottom of my toilet tank?
• What causes a gurgling sound when a bathtub or sink drains?
• Are drop-in toilet bowl cleaner tablets safe?
• What can I add to my septic tank to help it work better?
• What are the code requirements for layout of drain piping under sinks?
• Why is there mold inside my toilet tank?
• What are the pros and cons of a wall-mounted toilet?
• Which plumbing fixtures require water shut off valves in a home?
• How can I tell if a house is connected to a septic tank system or sewer?
• Are plastic pipes (PVC, CPVC, and PEX) safe for drinking water?
• Why is a backflow preventer required on lawn sprinkler systems?
• How can I locate my septic tank?
• Is a hot water faucet handle required to be on the left?
• Can you live in a house while the plumbing is being replaced?
• Why is the European-style bottle trap not approved by the plumbing codes in the U.S.?
• Why can't PVC be used for water pipe inside a house?
• What are the common problems to look for when the plumbing has been replaced in a house?
• What's that powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater?
• How can I tell what type of plumbing pipe I have?
• What causes low water pressure in a house?
• Should I call a plumber or septic tank contractor when my septic tank backs up into the house?
• How do I get rid of the sewer gas smell in my house?
• What are the pipes on my roof?
• Should I wrap the water heater with an insulation blanket?
• My water bill went way up last month. How do I look for a leak?
• Why does the water have a rotten-egg smell in some empty houses?
• What is an "S-Trap" under my sink? Why is it a problem?
• Where is the septic tank? Are you going to inspect it?
• What does polybutylene pipe look like? Why is it a problem?
• Which water pipes are an insurance problem and possibly uninsurable?
• Does a home inspector check the plumbing under the floor slab?
• Is it alright to disconnect the washing machine drain from the septic tank and divert it to the ground in the yard?
Visit our PLUMBING and “DOES A HOME INSPECTOR…?” pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.
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