Although performing a sewer scope inspection is not required by InterNACHI’s Home Inspection Standards of Practice, many home inspectors offer it as an additional or ancillary service. The information it yields can be very helpful to homeowners, as well as prospective home buyers. Home inspectors should familiarize themselves with the components, benefits, and practices of a sewer scope inspection when considering whether to offer this service.
What Is a Sewer Scope?
A sewer scope is a video inspection of the lateral sewer line leading from the house at/near the foundation and connecting to the city or HOA tap or septic tank. A lateral sewer line is the privately-owned pipeline connecting the property to the publicly-owned main sewer line, HOA tap, or septic tank.
Sewer-scoping the line can reveal blockages, damage to the pipe system, and other problems, which are vital for homeowners and home buyers to be aware of. For example, if there is a damp depression in the lawn above the sewer line, or if there is backflow into the home, or if contaminants have been discovered in the potable water supply, a sewer scope inspection can be critical to identifying and confirming these problems, which must be addressed immediately.
Before performing the sewer scope inspection, the home inspector should notify the homeowner in writing of his/her intent to scope the sewer, along with his inspection protocol, so that the property owner knows what to expect.
A seller’s notice describes the practices and procedures of the sewer scope that will be performed (i.e., a request to access the cleanout, a notice that you will/will not pull toilets, etc.).
Once you arrive at the property, you should walk the grounds and locate the manhole cover(s) to determine the direction of the lateral sewer line's run. You should also determine the location of the scope access (interior or exterior), as well as the tools that you'll need. Before beginning the inspection, you should advise the owners/occupants not to run the water (sinks, showers, tubs, washing machine, dishwasher or toilets) during your sewer scope inspection.
Camera equipment used to see inside the pipelines
Sewer Scope Protocol
In order to perform a sewer scope inspection smoothly and effectively, certain protocols should be followed. To begin, run water in all locations to flush out the sewer lines. This will ensure that your camera equipment will have lubrication and will not catch on any debris. Additionally, the water will float the camera, which will allow it to be pushed through the line more easily. If you haven’t already, be sure to establish the location of the access point and check for leaks at the access/cleanout.
Before inserting the scope into the sewer line, there are a few essential steps that must be taken:
At this point, you may begin the scope. During this process, do the following:
Interior view of SDR (standard dimension ratio) pipe
Although the initial purchase of sewer scope equipment can be pricey—a good camera system ranges from $5,000 to $10,000—the financial benefits of this ancillary service will quickly pay for this, and more. Depending on the area, fees for a sewer scope inspection can range from $100 to $250. If an average of 300 sewer scope inspections are requested per year, the annual revenue generated can be between $30,000 and $75,000.
Adding sewer scope inspections to your list of ancillary services can be financially beneficial for you as a home inspector, and it can also be very beneficial for the property owner and prospective home buyer. It's important for inspectors to remember to implement the appropriate protocols before, during and after the sewer scope to prevent causing damage, as well as to avoid liability. A sewer scope can identify any potential defects within the property's pipelines, but be sure not to enter the backflow device, city tap, or septic tank. If any defects are discovered, the home inspector should advise the homeowner to consult or hire a professional.
To become an InterNACHI Certified Sewer Scope Inspector, visit www.nachi.org/certified-sewer-scope-inspector.
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This article was sourced from InterNACHI® and information provided by Certifed Master Inspector® Jim Krumm.