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4 Situations When Home Owner’s Need a Video Pipe Inspection

4 Situations When Home Owner’s Need a Video Pipe Inspection

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First, you may be wondering, “What is a video pipe inspection anyway?”

A video pipe inspection in its simplest form is moving a specialized video camera through a pipe and inspecting its integrity from an inside perspective. The most common is referred to as a “sewer scope”, and is simply an inspection of a home’s sewer mainline (also known as the lateral main waste line, sanitary or sanitation mainline) from the house to the city sewer connection. The camera allows the technician to inspect the pipe live and record the video for the customer’s own record keeping. This video will be used to show if the line is in need of maintenance, repair, replacement or if it’s in good working condition.

Other than buying a home, what are some other reasons or situations when a home owner would want their sewer pipes inspected?

1)  Sewer Problems – Okay, so you’ve been having problems with your sewer continually backing up (a stinky mess right!)…a drain company or plumber came out, presented an unfavorable report, and handed you a repair bill.  You have sticker shock and you’re thinking, “Now what?”  First, stop and take a deep breath (or maybe not — pee-uh-wee) and consider the following: – Okay, so you’ve been having problems with your sewer continually backing up (a stinky mess right!)…a drain company or plumber came out, presented an unfavorable report, and handed you a repair bill. You have sticker shock and you’re thinking, “Now what?” First, stop and take a deep breath (or maybe not — pee-uh-wee) and consider the following:

  • You may simply need proper maintenance on the line. Oftentimes when the proper equipment is used by an experienced drain cleaner, cleaning the line is really all that is necessary to keep your sewer line in good working condition. Proper and timely maintenance may also be required in the future. Maintenance includes: keeping the lateral line flowing and free of debris such as excessive root infiltration as well as the build up of fats, oil and grease (FOG).
  • You may just have one bad spot in the line causing backups. All that’s required is a spot repair as opposed to replacing the entire line. However, it’s not necessary to give into the pressure to have the line repaired by that particular company. More about this later…
  • You may in fact have a bad sewer line that needs to be fully replaced. Bummer! Make sure you get all the facts before moving forward. Many companies will use “the presence of roots” as a reason for a full line replacement, which in our opinion is NOT necessarily always the case. If the presence of roots is the reason to replace the sewer, then almost every sewer in the Denver area would need to be replaced. NOT SO! Unfortunately some companies train their technicians to present a very convincing narrative during the inspection showing that an otherwise good sewer line needs replacement — even while the customer is watching the video screen with the technician.
  • You may actually have a good line but an honest misdiagnosis of the problem.

After having completed over 10,000 independent sewer camera inspections, we have witnessed the above scenarios. If you’ve been shown a low-quality video (by the way, not all camera equipment is the same) of your sewer line but don’t know what you’re seeing nor understand what the heck it means, and are being pressured to make a decision right away…our advice is to get a second opinion.

With more and more companies acquiring camera systems, we have seen an increased demand in providing second opinion scopes. Approximately 80% (by far the majority) of our findings differ from the original scope.

Our best advice…Have a sewer scope completed by a company or individual with NO “skin in the game.” Hire a reputable company or individual that will NOT directly or indirectly financially benefit from a negative diagnosis.

What home owner’s may not know is that most drain cleaning, rooter type companies and even plumbing companies typically make additional revenue by finding or exaggerating problems as needing fixed, NOT by simply diagnosing the problem and recommending proper maintenance.

It’s unfortunate but true. Inconvenient and a stinky mess – absolutely! But, our experience has also shown that people can be misled in these situations.

Savvy consumers are discovering the added layer of protection and value in obtaining an independent video inspection. By finding an honest, reputable, experienced company consumers can obtain a truly unbiased expert opinion of their pipe’s condition — empowering THEM to be in the driver’s seat if a true issue needs to be addressed.

2) A Notice from The City – You received a written notification from the city that your sewer connection (tap) to the city’s sewer mainline is broken and now you have 45 days to repair it. Now what??

As you can well image, sewage being released into the soil is an environmental hazard and can potentially undermine the city’s mainline causing it to be damaged as the sewage continues to move the soil. The city, of course, does not take this lightly. Due to many sewage systems aging, municipalities routinely check their sewage systems with large cameras (CCTV), which means they can also look at the property owner’s connection to that mainline.

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If you’ve been served a notice, we recommend an independent sewer inspection be completed to:

  • Verify that it is your disconnected tap (not a neighbor’s — this can occasionally happen.
  • Identify the exact location and depth of that part of the line that will need to be excavated and repaired (usually the city does not provide the home owner this information).
  • Mark the spot with a flag or paint so that bids can be obtained from more than one licensed, reputable plumbing company.
  • To verify that there are no other hidden problems in other areas that can be more easily repaired at the same time.

As a home owner, what part of the sewer system is your responsibility?

All property owners, not only home owners, connected to a municipal sanitary sewer system are responsible for the entire length of the sanitary sewer service line from their property and throughout their property to the city mainline. This includes the portion of the line under the sidewalk and street, landscaping, or nearby easement (where the line is deepest, and most expensive to repair, and where your sewer connects to the city’s mainline).

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Image: LA Public Works

3) New Home Warranty is About to Expire – Scoping the main sewer line before you buy a house is always recommended, but what about before your new home warranty expires? One of our customer’s who built a new home in Parker, Colorado recently reminded us of the importance of having such an inspection.

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A Home Owner’s Story: “I contacted Pipe Spies after purchase of my new home to ensure all was well before our warranty ran out. The Pipe Spies’ technician thoroughly and efficiently checked our system. He explained what he was doing and the results as he progressed. His inspection found a minor low spot under our basement floor. Though I chose not to have this fixed, he described how best to keep materials from building up in the low spot. I was thankful to know we did not have a major problem since settling can easily occur with newly constructed homes and I wanted to know if that might have created an issue for us before our warranty had run out.”

Especially in areas with shifting soil, even new sewer lines can be broken during construction, go undetected, and cause plenty of headache for you in just a short period of time. Before the warranty expires on a new home it’s always a good idea to add that extra peace of mind to your investment.

4) Prior to Selling a Home – Home owners don’t often think of this before placing their home on the market. First consult your REALTOR® and consider the following reasons for scheduling a pre-listing video pipe inspection of your sewer pipes before going on the market.

  • Head-off any potential hick-ups during the pre-close period that could save you time and aggravation.
  • Identify then determine severity of any problems in the main sewer line (if any).
  • Address any issues on your own time and budget terms; saving you money.
  • Choose not to fix the problem and disclose the issue to the buyer upfront.
  • Avoid negotiating with a buyer to fix problems; allowing negotiations to tear down your home price.
  • Eliminate surprises in the negotiation process.
  • Minimize the chances of your deal potentially falling through.
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Treat the sale of your home like
a business and it will get you customers.

When purchasing a home or property, we recommend scheduling a camera inspection of your pipes, however, as you can see there other situations that you may have not considered when home owner’s would need an independent video pipeline inspection. By facing the good, bad, ugly and honest truth about their pipe work’s condition the unseen becomes the seen, empowering them to be in the driver’s seat if a true issue needs to be addressed.

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