Most of us tend not to give much thought to sewer pipes, and the fact that they stay hidden underground makes them all too easy to forget. However, the one time you should never disregard plumbing lines is when buying a new house. Sure, general plumbing evaluations are required in Minneapolis during home inspections, but most banks and lenders don’t demand a video sewer inspection. Unfortunately, when you forgo this more in-depth analysis, you might miss a major flaw lurking under your house, and your “dream home” could quickly saddle you with unexpected and pricey plumbing bills.
Why a Video Sewer Line Inspection?
While visual examinations of pipes and water faucets in and around the house are essential, they offer few revelations about what’s happening in the main sewer lines. For that, you need to actually take a peek inside the pipes. Plumbers do this with the help of a small video camera that’s attached to a “snake” and then inserted and directed through the sewer lines. The camera makes it possible for plumbers to find buildup, invading tree roots, cracks, leaks, off-set pipes, and other types of damage.
Even if the plumbing seems to be working fine inside the house, these issues could be developing without your knowledge and can suddenly cause major problems, such as leaks, backed up sewage, or frozen lines. When these things happen, you are generally stuck without water until the line is repaired.
Does Every Home Need a Video Inspection Before Buying?
We recommend you have a main line video inspection before buying any house, as it’s the only way to guarantee there aren’t any potential plumbing problems hiding in the pipes. Still, there are few instances where video inspections are particularly important:
1. If the home is older than 20 years
Plumbing in older Minneapolis homes is sometimes made of substandard materials, such as steel, clay, and even tarpaper. It’s important to know if you’re dealing with these types of materials, since you’ll undoubtedly have to replace them with something more modern and less likely to erode.
That said, even the best pipes can wear out over time through regular exposure to debris and shifts in soil. Older homes are at particular risk for having main lines with dips, bellies, or complete corrosion in spots.
2. There are mature trees or visible roots on the property
Even with new homes, tree roots can compromise plumbing lines. They are indiscriminate in their quest for water and can get through or crush pipes.
3. There is cracked or raised concrete near the house
This is a good indication that large roots are moving underground, and, if they’ve pushed beneath concrete, they could also get into pipes and cause blockages and breaks.
4. No one has lived in the home for 3 months or more
When a house sits vacant, no one is maintaining the plumbing and complications can develop unnoticed.
5. You plan on remodeling
Sadly, far too many new homeowners finish their basement or remodel a bathroom only to have it flooded and ripped out after a plumbing crisis. Don’t let this be you — make sure your sewer lines are in order prior to any construction.
In Minneapolis and surrounding areas, homeowners are responsible for all sewer lines on their property. The city only maintains the main line running under the street. This means, if there’s a problem with your lines, you are accountable for the bill. And, compared to the cost of a simple video inspection, these expenses aren’t cheap. In fact, when whole systems need replacing, repair costs can range from $5,000 to $15,000 or more. This is definitely an expense you want to know about before buying the home. So, instead of gambling on your future home’s plumbing, get a video inspection and purchase your home with confidence.