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Do I need a sewer scope for my home inspection?

So, your home inspector is offering you a sewer scope service but you're not sure if it's something you really need. Do you pay the extra fee or save your money?

A sewer camera is an amazing piece of technology that affords home inspectors the ability to take a closer look into your home's septic system. In other words, we as home inspectors can run a small camera through your sewer lines to look for damage or signs of blockages. So what are some of the important things to keep in mind when deciding to purchase a sewer scope service? Let's break it down.

  1. Age of the home. Was your home built in the 50s? older? Chances are your home has a cast iron system. This type of system is notorious for heavy corrosion and has caused many homeowners headaches over the years. Cast iron has proven to be a rather sturdy and durable material but lead to corrosion and pipe building up. Blockages regularly form in these systems due to the excessive corrosion and allow waste material to back up into your home. Corroded cast systems also become brittle and can be susceptible to root damage. A common indicator of cast breaks is pooling waste water in your front yard. Running a sewer cam may be a good idea if your home is on the older side. A sewer scope will help determine if a costly repair or plumbing replacement is in your future.

  2. Does the home have poor drainage or constant blockages? A sewer scope may help identify if there is any pooling water or signs of blockages in the plumbing system. Whether paper products, poor plumbing installation, or a damaged pipe, taking a close look will help identify any necessary repair or cleaning costs that can be included in your home purchase negotiations.

  3. Does your home have access for a sewer scope? Home inspectors typically run sewer cameras through cleanouts located on the exterior ground level of a home, through sewer vents on the roof, or any other access points located within the home (cleanouts may be available in bathrooms or laundry rooms). However, not all homes (especially if they are older) are outfitted with the proper access. Older homes, for example, do not always have cleanouts available which limits your inspector to a roof vent access. Many inspectors do not do roof access sewer scopes on two or more story buildings (weather can also affect whether an inspector will go on a rooftop to do a sewer cam).

  4. Are inspectors responsible for finding detailed items such as fissures or other small plumbing damage? Rest assured that a home inspector is able to give you a direct view (whether by photo or video- we provide HD video to all of our customers) of what your sewer lines look like. It is important to note, however, that inspectors are not plumbers and normally a home inspectors duty requires them to identify obvious or easily identifiable concerns. If a plumbing system is in very poor shape, we recommend having a plumber further review (Pro tip: home inspectors normally charge less for a sewer cam service. Ask your local plumber if they would be willing to take a look at your inspector's sewer cam footage and give feedback!)

  5. How much should it cost? Some inspectors offer reduced pricing when a sewer scope is bundled with other inspection services. We have found that most inspectors will charge anywhere from $200 to $375 for a sewer cam. This number normally varies on the size of the home, amount of access points, and what information is provided (video vs photo, etc).

To summarize, having a sewer scope done with your general inspection is normally a good idea and we highly recommend it to all of our older homes. Some of our newer homes need the extra attention to identify poor installation or other causes of blockages or damage. Identifying any causes of concern can save you time in money in the your homes negotiation. A sewer scope service can offer some serious piece of mind when it comes to one of your home's most crucial systems.

If you have any further questions, please email us at As one of Florida's top home inspection providers, we strive to offer the best in terms of customer service and experience.

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