It is one of the worst feelings a homeowner can experience: purchasing a dream home and then realizing that the inspection did not cover the entire sewer line. Home inspections that are done in advance of a residential sale are not typically required to cover the part of the sewer line that connects a home to the city’s sewer system. And having the sneaking suspicion that pipe replacement is necessary is even worse when it is confirmed. Experts say that there are a few warning signs that a sewer camera inspection — or sewer repair — may be needed.
Homeowners — and renters — should keep an eye on their water bills. Some water companies have a section on their websites that allows customers to see their average water use by month and sometimes by year. Average water use for a family of four is about 6,000 gallons every month, but if you see a sudden increase in water use, it could indicate a leak in a water or sewer pipe. Some cities actually still have sewer lines in use that are made from clay, brick, or cast iron pipes, and with increased wear and tear from dishwashers and washing machines, those lines could be strained past the breaking point.
What other sudden changes should I look for? Plumbing contractors point out that a sluggish faucet could also point to the need for trenchless pipe repair, a process that can renew and rehabilitate water, sewer, and gas pipes without the need to dig on the entire property. Of course, new sewer camera inspection technology can allow contractors to get a bird’s eye view of the whole sewer system, but something as simple as a soft spot on the lawn could mean that a water or sewer pipe is damaged. If homeowners notice that parts of their lawn are sinking lower and lower, it is probably best to immediately call a plumber.
Comprehensive sewer camera inspection can also reveal the presence of organic clogs to the sewer and water lines. Hair and other organic debris can often be pushed out with high-pressure water jets, and a clear sewer line is the first requirement for any sewer line replacement or repair. But problems are often noticeable above ground. Soft lawn spots can be one indication, but if homeowners notice much higher grass in a certain area, or more weeds in a certain section of the yard, chances are good that the plants are getting a steady supply of water from an underground source.
As sewer repair technology continues to improve, homeowners may want to consider investing in comprehensive sewer and water line repair. Epoxy resin can actually be used to fill broken pipes without “blooming” past the point of the break, and while sewer repair may seem like a major project, American homeowners wonder if they can afford to avoid making needed repairs.