city officer inspecting the sewers

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Inspections are par for the course when buying a home, but there’s one important system that many potential buyers overlook: the sewer line.

A typical home inspection doesn’t examine the sewer because it is buried underground. The only surefire way to have the system inspected is to hire someone to perform a sewer camera inspection. The cost of this inspection is worth it.

Imagine buying a home and finding out weeks later that there are problems with the sewer system. You’re dealing with messy backups in your home, and now you have to repair the problem.

Sewer repair is not cheap. On average, repairs can cost $5,000. If the problem is in the street, repairs can easily creep up to $20,000 or more.

Don’t assume that a newer home won’t have sewer issues. In one horror story, buyers purchased a home built in 2006. The builder decided it would be a good idea to reuse the clay sewer line from the early 1900s to save on costs. An inspection found that the line had several breaks that needed repair, despite the home being almost new.

Even with relatively new sewer lines, anything can happen. A camera inspection may reveal that a 10-year-old sewer line is already clogged or damaged by tree roots.

Old and deteriorating lines can easily collapse, which would allow sewage to seep into your home.

The diligent home buyer will absolutely have a home’s sewer system inspected. But there are also other plumbing issues that buyers should look at before buying a home.

Leaking toilets can cause serious, costly water damage. Experts recommend that home buyers inspect the area around the toilet to make sure it’s in good condition. If the floor feels soft or if the bowl shifts out of place when you move it, ask the homeowner why this is happening.

Clogged drains and improperly installed water pipes can also give home buyers headaches if they aren’t inspected properly. Home buyers should check all faucets while walking through the home. Let the water run for a few minutes. If the water doesn’t drain quickly, it may be sign that the pipes are clogged.

Check under sinks to look for any signs of water damage.

Another common issue that home buyers tend to overlook: the water heater. A new water heater can cost $2,000 or more to replace. Units typically only last a decade, so inquire about the age of the water heater before buying the home. Even if the unit shows no signs of needing repair, it may need to be replaced in the near future if it’s nearing the 10-year mark.

Pay attention to where the tank is located. If the water heater leaks, will it damage hardwood floors, carpeting or furniture? Most hot water heaters are tucked away, but if they are close to a living space, you may have an even more expensive problem when you inevitably run into issues in the future.

Buying a home is a significant investment. Taking the time to inspect the sewer line and plumbing can help you avoid costly repairs that can set you back financially.