Buyer Due Diligence 2: Sewer Scope Results

A lot has been going on in the background for our project home purchase. I’m going to hold off on providing the address until after the inspection period is over. If you happen to figure it out or wish to hazard a guess, please have the courtesy not to post. At this point, the house could be in Medford and it would not change the content of these posts.

We did the sewer scope on Tuesday. Typically the camera goes down the 4″ clean out (usually a threaded cap in the main sewer line inside the house) which we couldn’t find. The camera wouldn’t fit in the 2″ line that did have a clean-out. The next best answer is removing a toilet (which either the homeowner of a plumber can reinstall). This is what we did. The camera is snaked down the line and you watch for cracks, clogs and other issues all the way out to the curb. Once you cross the curb into the street, the City takes over responsibility.

In this case, the camera jammed at 33″ from the cleanout, just outside the house in the front yard. The spot was located and marked. We’d figured we’d be replacing the line, the scope was a confirmation for us and to provide some budgeting information.

Then a funny (for lack of a better word) thing happened. Somone knocked over the orange safety cone in the middle of the room. Right there in the middle of the floor was the cleanout with a straight shot down the line! Without the cone we would have tripped over it. With the cone, we all avoided it and never looked under it as it is an unusual place for the cleanout.

With a straight shot, the camera was able to break through the 33″ clog and make it out to the street trees in the public right-of-way (planting strip between curb and sidewalk). The old tree has destroyed the line.

For us and this project: no biggie (though it isn’t money I want to spend). I expeceted it as part of the purchase. We will not ask the seller to repair. But for a potential buyer who otherwise would have no reason to accept or want a failed sewer line, this is a big deal. Our sewer system is getting to be 100 years old. Age and environmental conditions (growing trees) have impacted the integrety of the system.

9 Comments on “Buyer Due Diligence 2: Sewer Scope Results

  1. So I have to ask…if the tree has destroyed the sewer line where has all the sewage been going (or not going!)

  2. I have visions of Jack Nicholas screaming, “The truth? You can’t handle the truth.” 🙂 I think we know the answer though we would rather not. Probably the reason that tree is so healthy!

    In reality, the line is not broken in two, just perforated by tree roots. Most, if not all of it, actully reaches the main line.

  3. We had a PARTY! line (w/ a small crack) which the potential buyers discovered, and we suspected since it was OLD, upon inspection. We got two quotes, $14K and $6K. The difference, the 14K quote involved a trench from the middle of the street to nearly the back of the house. The $6K quote involved a huge hole in the middle of the street and a smaller hole near the back of the house, they then used a nifty scope thingamajig and replaced the pipe w/out digging the extensive trench.

    AS far as the city being responsible for the street side of the pipe I do not recall the details but I think it went something like this…considering this needs to be fixed before the sale is complete lets just get it done.

  4. Good info! Can you give a ballpark as to what the inspection cost?

    Also, if you had decided to not purchase the property, would the seller now obligated to disclose the results of the inspection?

    Finally, should the sentence read “Medford and it would NOT”? Otherwise, I don’t understand the message…


  5. Correct, I missed the NOT in this morning’s post. Fixed now.

    Scope was $95. I think the going rate may be $125 but we have been using the same company for years and they have not raised rates on us or our clients.

    Yes, seller would have to disclose the results of any inspections they received.

  6. We had our line scoped out as part of the inspection for our Portland house. It was done from a clean-out in the basement. Little did we know, however, that one of the bathrooms ran a second line that was supposed to connect to the first one by the side of the house to continue on to the street. The truth: it T-boned where it was supposed to connect. The previous owners disclosed occasional “flooding”, but never figured it out. We discovered the bad plumbing job after some mess of our own. And then we were lucky: we tracked down the company that did the original work and they fixed it for free (after some bullying). My advice: scope out the lines from all toilets!

  7. Normally tree roots don’t damage the existing system. Why not use a little CuSO4 to rid the system of the unwanted roots? It’s a very effective way to eliminate roots, and considering no one is living there, it would be easy.

  8. We commonly see tree roots in sewer lines. Portland’s sewers are a combination of ABS, cast iron and terracotta. When they are replaced, they are “burst” in by digging a small hole at one end and a bigger hole at the other.

    If I take the time to clip the video of the scope, would anyone watch it?

    Not being a chemist, what would the City have to say about pumping CuSO4 into the city sewer system?

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