Portland Sewer Scope Home Test Guide – 2021

sewer scope portland home

Having the sewer line checked out before you purchase a home in Portland is a very good idea. Sewer lines can cost thousands of dollars to repair, but a scope costs just $100-$200 in the Portland area. In this article, we’ll go through some of the most frequent questions home owners and buyers ask our real estate agents about sewer scopes. 

What is a sewer scope?

A sewer scope is a simple home test that checks the sewer lines for blockages, leaks and damage. It will also tell you what kind of material your sewer pipes are made of. 

Your sewer inspector will first locate the “clean out”, a capped pipe located on or near your property line which connects to the lateral sewer line. They will open the cap and insert a camera attached to a sewer snake. As the snake travels through the sewer line, the inspector watches the footage on a monitor. If the sewer line inspector can’t find the clean out, typically they will request to pull a toilet and run their camera through that way.

How do I know if the home needs a sewer scope?

Typically, a sewer scope is recommended for any home in Portland more than 20 years old. But we have seen sewer lines fail on brand new homes! Newer homes can have failed sewer lines due to bad installation. Older homes have failed sewer lines due to wear and tear, whether it is a cracked line from root instructions, settled bellies in the sewer line, clogged lines, or other reasons.

Even if no problems are visible on the surface (soggy lawn, sewer smell), it doesn’t take long for a small leak in a sewer line to turn into a big problem, especially if there are trees growing nearby. Tree roots are very good at getting into sewer lines! Newer sewer lines are often a kind of PVC material which means the tree roots will slip around the line. Older sewer lines are often cast iron, which tree roots love to break through.

Is a sewer scope included with Portland home inspections?

No, typically you’ll need to order your sewer scope separately. Some home inspectors offer the service for an extra charge. Otherwise, most plumbing companies will be able to do the job. Talk to Portland real estate agent for recommendations. 

Who pays for the sewer line test?

Typically, if the seller doesn’t know of any issues with the sewer line, they’re not going to offer to have a scope done on behalf of the buyer. In that case, it’s up to the potential buyer to have a scope done. 

What if the scope turns up an issue with the sewer line?

Sewer line blockages and clogs are relatively easy to fix, but if the sewer line is corroded, cracked, misaligned or otherwise needs replacement, the costs can add up quickly. 

The first thing to do is to get a quote for the repairs from a qualified plumber. As a home buyer, you have the option to negotiate with the seller to reduce the price of the home to reflect these costs. In a tight market, the seller may not be accommodating, but it’s worth discussing with your real estate agent. 

Dig vs. No Dig Sewer Line Repairs

One of the reasons sewer lines can cost so much to repair or replace is the digging. In the past, one had to dig up expensive landscaping, maybe dig through concrete driveways or sidewalks to get to the line, then pull it up and replace it. Now, there are fantastic no dig options where a plumbing company can re-line the old sewer line with near indestructible material, potentially saving hundreds or thousands of dollars.

We recommend a sewer scope on every home purchase.

Unless the sewer line was recently tested, we recommend a sewer scope inspection is performed to protect our clients. No one wants the sewer backing up into the house or flooding the front lawn of your new home.

Are you ready to get into a new Portland home before the end of 2020? Contact our top 1% buyers or sellers real estate agents today! 

October 19, 2020

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

4% max to sell a home in Portland and SW Washington.
4.25% max to sell a home in Salem and Bend.
Over 2,000 homes sold.