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HMW #140: 3 Red Flags You Need a Sewer Scope ASAP

alan corey contractors evaluate a property inspection property management real estate 101 water issues Feb 07, 2024

Read Time: 4.25 minutes

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The importance of your home's plumbing can not be overstated. Water is the number one enemy of any property, wether that water is coming from inside your home (plumbing) or outside your home (rain).

Most home inspection and plumbing companies have an add-on service to run a camera down your property's pipes, commonly called a sewer scope. It's an extra $500 fee on average, and it's something I (Alan) would consider a must especially if one of the three things below pop-up on the inspection report. 

Preventing or identifying early leaks are always going to be cheaper than reacting to long-lasting deferred water issues, so be on the look out for these three red flags that something might be amiss so you aren't flushing your hard-earned money down the toilet.

So you ready for some potty talk?



I'm not sure you could have agreed to hear me out in any creepier way, but glad you are all ears (*rim shot*).


Red Flag 1: Foundation Issues

Your house's plumbing runs on gravity, and thus collects all the running water at the base of your home.

A leak may not be immediately noticeable if its terminal point is in a low-trafficked area. But the creation of a soft base, possibly caused by water or sewer leaks, will definitely make your foundation settle and cause unexpected cracks in the walls or ceilings of the house.

If your inspection report mentions settling beyond normal wear and tear, I would definitely invest in a sewer scope as a next step to see if you have a cracked pipe, clog, or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle infestation.



Sorry, I've got 13 years worth of dad jokes in me and counting, let me have this.


Red Flag 2: Evidence of mold

Mold can only survive with a constant source of moisture. If there is no moisture, there is no mold. What can provide a constant source of moisture better than a leaky pipe hiding in a wall or floor slab?

If you see recurring or unexplained mold in your property, your first instinct should be to have a drain inspection done.  

A backup in your sewer system can expose you to

  • Fungi
  • Sewage
  • Bacteria
  • Parasites
  • Harmful gases

Not of this is fun for you or your tenants, so best to identify the source of moisture feeding your mold as soon as possible.



Indeed, mostly that your pipes need a good look!


Red Flag 3: Sinkholes in yard

Your plumbing has to go from your house to the public sewer line at the street or to a buried septic tank in your backyard. Tree roots love a good sewer pipe to squeeze and break and the best way to identify a problem with a cracked outdoor pipe is an unexplained sinkhole.

Considering that replacing a buried pipe can run you $2,500-$15,000, an upfront $500 sewer scope is an excellent investment for you to understand where exactly the pipe is cracked, if at all.

And we all know the dangers of sink holes, right?

Not exactly what I was thinking, but if that's your fear than I would recommend sewer scope before you see any of these red flags!

Sinkholes are also going to be eye sores, ankle breakers, landscape blights, and are never a sign of something good happening. So, use them as a red flag that a water leak is occurring somewhere and fix them sooner rather than later.

I have to ask, are you taking these red flags seriously?



Excellent!  A little self-help can go a long way to helping your property thrive as well.



  • Sewer scopes provide leak detection and peace of mind
  • Moisture leaks can lead to health and home hazards
  • Sinkholes sink cash flow and more
  • Prevention of issues trumps all



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