Getting Down and Dirty: Sewer Lines

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In a couple of weeks, Jessie's getting a new sewer lining installed in her home, and that got us thinking: what do our clients need to know about sewer lines? So today we're navigating the murky waters of sewer line inspections. Let's put on our goggles and dive right in!

First things first: when buying a home, a sewer line inspection isn't technically a required inspection, but we do highly recommend getting one. In cities like Minneapolis, it was common back in the day to use clay tiles for sewer lines. Aside from simply being old and reaching their failure points, these clay tiles are segmented every two feet, allowing tree roots (any roots, really) to find their way into the lines and cause backups.

During the inspection process, buyers have an opportunity to inspect/scope the lines to find out if there any major issues. An inspection runs about $150, but is worth every penny: sewer line repairs, depending on the severity of the problem, can top $10,000 to fix. That's something you'll want to know before buying your home. 

Matt: One thing to be aware of when inspecting the line during the contingency period is liability. For instance, the buyer would be responsible for any damage caused by the camera during the inspection...but the chances of that happening are very slim. 

Also, if the inspector can't get the camera through the entire line due to tree roots, the recommendation will be to do a clean out and re-inspect. Since buyers cannot do that without the permission of the sellers, we'd have to negotiate responsibility for the clean out. In the off chance that an agreement can't be reached, however, the buyer would have to decide whether to move forward with the purchase without knowing the condition of the sewer line. Personally, I would never recommend anyone take this risk, but ultimately it's up to the buyers and their risk-tolerance level.  

Amanda: I love what you said, Matt. I would add that in some cases, cable, phone and data lines run through the sewer lines as well, since the maps are unreliable. That's also worth knowing before you purchase a house. I know someone who lost internet at her home because the city had just installed new sidewalks after doing some sewer line work and they cut the Century Link line. They had to tear up the entire sidewalk again, and she somehow survived 48 hours without internet!

On a personal note, I haven't had the lines inspected at my new house, and this is inspiring me to schedule it right away! Most sewer line companies recommend getting the lines inspected and cleaned every other year or so, even if you didn't just purchase the home. 

Jessie: I’m using Marvel Sewer and Drain for my new sewer lining. I've worked with them before with buyers, and they are preferred vendors of our office. Ben Smith is the owner and he’s great to work with. Just last week, actually, I had a leak coming from the main stack about 11 hours before I left for Florida. On a Saturday. He had his guys out to fix it first thing Monday to fix it (mainly because it wasn’t an emergency and if I didn’t run water it was okay). I like them a lot. Who do you guys call for sewer stuff?

Matt: I really only use Ron the Sewer Rat!  They are the best!

Amanda: Same here. Ron the Sewer Rat for inspections and Cichy's Water & Sewer for replacing the line.

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