I have written on this subject before, but because this topic is important and potentially expensive, I think it’s time for another friendly reminder. Due to the fact that the sewer piping to the street is buried there is no way for a typical home inspection to assess it’s condition. While we at Home Standards have been trained to run a lot of water during our inspection process, that does not guarantee that a problem will be discovered.
One of the worst phone calls I have ever gotten was from a couple, who after 2 weeks of moving in, had a floor drain backing up. Their report noted that the sewer clean out had been replaced and recommended that a plumber be contacted to put a camera into the sewer to investigate. Unfortunately they opted not to.
There have been several products used for sewer pipe, clay tile, cast iron, and “Orangeburg” pipe. Clay is the most common and was used essentially until PVC came along in the 80’s. Cast Iron, while less common has rust and deterioration issues. Orangeburg pipe was made out of wood fibers and impregnated with coal tar pitch. It became popular during WW2 due to various material shortages and was manufactured until the 60’s.
Each of these materials has it’s shortcomings. With that being said it only costs about $200 to hire a plumber and know that you have done all you can to ensure the condition of your potential new home’s sewer line. These days that seems like pretty cheap peace of mind to me.