Is It Worth Getting a Sewer Line Inspection?

Common Plumbing Problems,

Replacing a sewer line is an expensive venture – most homeowners pay about $5,000 for the project. And unfortunately, a sewer line replacement is not something you can put off until you have the money saved. If that system collapses, you could find yourself scrambling to cover the costs with little to no warning.

Getting a sewer line inspection can help you to get a better idea of what’s happening in your sewer and whether you need to prepare for the worst. Read on to learn more about sewer line inspections and when you should get them done. 

What Is a Sewer Line Inspection?

Before we dive into whether it’s worth getting a sewer line inspection, let’s talk some about what they are. A sewer line inspection involves a contractor sending a sewer line inspection camera down the main sewer line leading from your house out to the street. This can give them an idea of whether there’s any damage to the line or if you have a clog that needs attention.

Over time, sewer lines can crack or crumble, especially if you have an older clay tile or cast iron line. Tree roots can grow into the line and stop it up completely, leading to backups in your house. A sewer line inspection lets you get a good look at what’s happening in your pipes without having to dig up your entire yard. 

Before You Buy a Home

One of the most important times to get a camera sewer line inspection is before you buy a new home. Even if you’re already paying for a general inspection (which you should be doing), they aren’t going to inspect the sewer line. They may flush a toilet or two to make sure they’re draining, but they aren’t giving the sewer system a full once-over. 

Even if the sewer line is draining properly at the time of your inspection, that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems lurking. Within just a few weeks or months of buying your house, you could find that everything that goes down your pipes is coming back up at the lowest point on the sewer line (often a toilet). You could have to spend thousands of dollars repairing the problem, as well as dealing with raw sewage in your house.

Before You Sell a Home

Likewise, it’s a good idea to get your sewer line inspected before you sell your house. Even if you haven’t had any problems with backups, you could have tree roots growing into your line that you don’t know about. If these show up on a buyer’s sewer line inspection, you could find yourself in serious hot water.

Before you list your house, it’s a good idea to invest the money to get your sewer line checked. If there are problems, you can decide how to handle them outside of the stress and deadlines of real estate negotiations. And if there aren’t any issues, you can present a clean bill of health to your potential buyers.

When You Suspect a Clog

Of course, it should come as no surprise that, if you suspect you may have a clog, you’ll need to get a sewer line inspection. These inspections are quick and easy compared to a full sewer excavation. They’re usually done in thirty minutes, they leave virtually no mess, and you’ll have a better idea of what’s happening and how to manage it.

One of the early signs that you may have a sewer line clog is if you notice water backing up in your sinks or toilets, especially on the lower floors of the house. Your drains may start running more slowly, and your yard might start flooding during even moderate rains. You might also notice funky smells around your house, especially around drains, as sewer gas makes its way back into your home. 


Even if you don’t suspect that your sewer has a clog, it’s a good idea to get the line checked periodically. As in medicine, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to sewer repairs. The sooner you catch a problem, the easier and cheaper it will be to fix it.

Tree roots can grow shockingly fast, and if you don’t get your sewer line checked regularly, they could take over your whole sewer line. Once they’re in, they start breaking other sections of the pipe, and you’ll likely have to replace the whole line. But if you catch them early enough, you may be able to solve the problem by lining or replacing one small section, rather than the whole line.

When Your Home Is Older

If you live in a home that’s more than twenty years old, it’s especially critical for you to get your sewer line inspected regularly. Up until the 1970s, builders were still installing clay tile pipes in new construction homes. These pipes can break and crumble over time and are especially susceptible to tree root growth. 

If your home has clay tile pipes, you’ll need to plan and save to replace those at some point. In the meantime, a sewer line inspection can let you know what sort of shape these pipes are in and whether you need to repair certain sections until you can afford to replace the whole thing. Ignoring the issue could leave you struggling to pay a massive repair bill that you didn’t expect.

Learn More About Sewer Line Inspection

There are several scenarios in which getting a sewer line inspection is more than worth it. Before you buy or sell a house, you’ll want to make sure the sewer line is in good working order. You’ll also want to get an inspection when you suspect a clog, if your house is older, and on a routine basis no matter what.

If you’d like to learn more about sewer line inspection, check out the rest of our site at Waterwork Plumbing. We have a team of quick-service, friendly plumbing experts who will restore your pipes to perfection in the shortest time possible. Make an appointment with us today and get the 24/7 emergency support you need.