Why You Should Consider a Sewer Inspection

Real Estate Broker/Owner with HomeBuyer Brokerage

Sewer inspection monitor

The sewer inspection monitor screen


If you are buying a home that is over ten years old, you might want to consider a sewer inspection. While this is not typically done in most home inspections, if you plan to remodel and add a bathroom or additional kitchen or bar, a sewer inspection would be the smart thing to do. 

We recently had the opportunity to see a sewer inspection in a townhouse built in the early 1950's. The sewer had been put into place about 69 years ago and to our knowledge, had never been inspected. 

Signs that you may need a sewer inspection

  • water slowly trickles from the faucet 
  • water is a brown or off-color
  • sewage backs up into the house

A sewer can collapse or fail for a variety of reasons. Large trees, particularly weeping willows, can wrap their roots around and into the sewer line. Depending on how far the house sits away from the main sewer connection, this can be a costly problem to fix.

My recent blog on Orangeburg Pipe.   provides information about a type of sewer pipe used extensively on the East Coast from about 1880 to the 1970s. The pipe was cheaper than a galvanized pipe or a cast iron sewer line. Sadly, you get what you pay for and in this case, the pipe, made from was pulp and pitch, frequently collapsed or backed up.

You will still see Orangeburg pipe in neighborhoods today. The cost of replacing the sewer line from the house to the main sewer connection can be as much as $25,000 depending on the depth of the pipe installation and distance from the street. 


 The only way to know if you have a sewer line problem is to have a licensed inspector snake a camera through the sewer pipe all the way to the street where it connects to the main sewer line. Inspectors typically access the sewer through a toilet or the clean out in the basement.

If you are paying for a sewer inspection, your inspector will give you a copy of the video.

Some issues can be solved by replacing part of the sewer line but in many cases, the entire pipe may need to be replaced. 


In the Washington DC area, we have homes over 200 years old. We are recommending sewer inspections to many of our home buyers, particularly in older neighborhoods. 

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Posted by

Victoria Lynne Henderson

Real estate broker and business owner of HomeBuyer Brokerage serving buyers in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Victoria was born in Washington D.C. and loves her hometown!

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Comments (4)

William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

My area requires an inspection and certification at the point of purchase

Feb 19, 2019 10:19 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Although sewer inspections aren't common in our area, septic system inspections are! Water line and sewer line insurance is becoming more common.

Feb 19, 2019 12:13 PM
Victoria Ray Henderson
HomeBuyer Brokerage - Washington, DC
Washington DC Real Estate

That's interesting William Feela I like the fact that your area requires a sewer inspection. It makes sense and it protects the home buyer. I appreciate your comment, thank you for stopping by!

Feb 21, 2019 02:22 PM
Victoria Ray Henderson
HomeBuyer Brokerage - Washington, DC
Washington DC Real Estate

Hi Carol Williams sewer inspections are common in our area too but usually a way out from the DC city limits. We always include a sewer inspection and inevitably find something that needs to be addressed. Thank you for stopping by our blog! I'll look for you here in the Rain:)

Feb 21, 2019 02:24 PM