Owning a home can sometimes be a never-ending series of catastrophes, repairs, and inspections. Because so much goes into keeping a home well-maintained and comfortable, many homeowners may recoil at the thought of yet another item on the constantly expanding checklist. While sewer inspections may not be anyone's idea of fun, they are an essential aspect of homeownership and one that you shouldn't ignore. This article will help you to understand why sewer inspections are so crucial and what can go wrong if you choose to forego this important service.
Your Responsibility As A Homeowner
The first step to understanding why inspections matter is understanding your responsibilities as a homeowner. Although the city is responsible for the main sewer lines, you are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your sewer lateral. The lateral is the connection that runs from your home to the main sewer line. Depending on your local laws, you may only be responsible for the portion of the lateral that runs below your property, or you may be on the hook for the entire lateral all the way to the main. When something goes wrong in this sewer pipe, you must pay to fix it and clean up any damage.
When Good Sewers Go Bad
Okay, so you have to pay to fix problems with your sewer line, but why would a buried pipe fail? In general, three typical issues arise with residential sewer laterals:
- Clogs due to improper usage
- Tree root infiltration
- Pipe damage
Of these three modes of failure, only the first is usually under your control. Tree roots are attracted to sewer pipes, thanks to the moist, nutrient-rich environment. Likewise, activity above ground can cause the surrounding soil to become compacted or to shift, ultimately damaging the sewer pipes. Both of these problems may go unnoticed for months or years, going from relatively minor fixes to wildly expensive catastrophes.
Knowing When To Inspect
Although sewer problems can be expensive, annual check-ups are not necessary. Sewer inspections are a good idea primarily in two circumstances: when purchasing a new home or after you have lived in your home for several decades.
Unless you have evidence of a recent inspection, always have one performed when purchasing any home that is more than ten years old. A qualified plumber will use a camera to check the interior condition of your lateral and alert you to issues ranging from grease build-ups to cracks to tree root infiltration. Once you've lived in a home for a while, it's a good idea to have this service performed every 15-20 years, especially if you intend to stay in your home for the long haul. Contact a company like Walt's Plumbing to learn more.