A large number of sewer lines in Southern California have arrived at the ripe old age of 80! The average useful life of cast iron sewer lines is 40 – 80 years depending on the material, who made it and what has been poured down the lines.
Based on my 50 years experience (yikes!) 70+ % of all building sewer lines, regardless of age, have some issue that should be addressed even if it’s only to have it cleaned out.
These inspections are relatively inexpensive but the cost of remedying the problems caused by improperly constructed or blocked sewer lines can be astronomical!
Here are a few examples:
Our sewer line inspector performed a camera inspection of a new sewer line wherein the builder had used mortar to join the clay pipes together. The problem was that the mortar seeped through the joints and created a blockage. As an aside, modern techniques usually include the use of rubber gaskets to join the pipes rather than mortar.
Another recent example of the malfunctioning of a brand new main sewer line is that in the course of filling in the trench, the installers compacted the dirt above the new pipes to the point that they managed to shear off the pipe where it connected to the city lines. The sewage had been seeping directly into the ground on the property!
An additional reason we recommend new lines are looked at is because, in California we are in earthquake country and it does not take much movement to separate a line underground. Also new buildings settle and even a small amount of settlement can disrupt the connections underground. You won’t ever know this happened unless it gets checked out professionally.
It is a common practice to rinse drywall mud into the sewer lines during construction. The problem is that since this mud is rather thick, it can stick to the inside of the pipes which then catches other debris thus creating blockages. The better construction companies include hydro-jetting the lines at the end of the job to prevent this exact problem.
It is not uncommon for our inspectors to find debris of all kinds in the sewer line, everything from bits of drywall, broken up concrete, toys and plastic water bottles to actual plumbing fittings.
Lastly, it is not unusual to discover that there was an old building on the site that was torn down and the new hookups were joined onto the old lines.
A vitally important area to include in your due diligence is inspection of the sewer lines, even in new construction.
There is no better way to discover the true condition of the sewer lines than to get a camera inspection done by unbiased, qualified, professionals BEFORE you purchase the property. We recommend these for both commercial properties and homes! It’s the cheapest insurance I can think of.
Call us TODAY and book your next building and sewer line inspection!
We hope this helps.