Everything You Need to Know About Having a Sewer Line Inspection

Last Updated On June 11, 2024

Updated on June 22, 2022



Reviewed by

sewer line inspection

Many people don’t think about their sewer line until sewage backup becomes an issue.

Do you have a question about your sewer line? A sewer line inspection can locate and identify the contents of a clog in your sewer line. It can help you pinpoint the exact location of different issues on your property. 

When you own a home or want to buy a new property, you need to know every detail about the space, including information regarding the sewer system. Hopefully, you learn what you need to know before it becomes a stressful sewer problem with equally alarming repair costs.

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:

  • What you need to know about having a pipe inspection
  • When do you need to have a sewer line inspection? 
  • Who to call for a camera inspection? 
  • How much does a sewer line inspection cost?
  • 8 steps of a sewer camera inspection

What's In This Guide?

      What You Need To Know About Having A Sewer Camera Inspection

      Your sewer line pipe sits under the slab or foundation of your home if no basement or crawl space is present, making it difficult to examine. It travels out of your home where it is referred to as a sewer lateral, and connects to the city system or your private septic tank. It’s unrealistic to tear up thick concrete or dirt in your yard only to find out that the clog didn’t develop where you thought.  

      A sewer line inspection uses a camera at the end of a long cord to examine the inside of your sewer pipes, which is especially important in these difficult-to-access spaces. 

      You may think that your sewer relates only to your toilet as many people think toilets and sewers go hand in hand. The toilet leads to the sewer line, along with all the other sink and shower drains in your home. 

      You will not need a sewer line inspection to help you simply unclog a toilet. The inspection is designed to reach deeper clogs in the main sewer line itself. 

      Most inspections not only provide a photo display of your pipe lining but also a detailed video inspection that can be recorded. 

      When Do You Need To Have A Sewer Line Inspection?

      Sewer line inspections serve the purpose of mapping out and finding a clog deep within your plumbing system. 

      Before you purchase a home, you need to get a home inspection which may include a sewer scope inspection. Sometimes this is an add on to your report, so be sure to ask about it. The home inspector will produce their findings in writing, detailing any foreseeable repair costs that may arise

      You may also be required to get a sewer inspection if you start certain construction or remodeling work such as pool installation, depending on the building codes in your area. 

      Sometimes, the inspection happens out of necessity due to a clog. 

      did you know sewer line inspection

      Signs That You May Have a Sewer Line Clog

      • Multiple slow drains
      • Sewage backup 
      • Foul odor 
      • Gurgling noises

      In some cases, you may be able to address the clog yourself using a drain snake or chemical drain cleaner made for the main line. However, if those methods don’t work, you’ll require an inspection to locate the source of the blockage. This will determine if professional sewer line cleaning is required.

      It’s important to note that sewer line inspections, unfortunately, cannot always identify leaks. It’s almost impossible to see a leak from inside a sewer pipe, especially since interior pipes accumulate gunk, such as grease or roots.

      They can identify what is called a belly in a sewer line. These are “sags” where pipes dip to disrupt the slope and proper drainage. They can be a source for debris and clogs to settle in.

      However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take action if you suspect a leak in your sewer line. 

      Indications of a sewer leak in your sewer line:

      • Excessive moisture in yard
      • Foundation cracks
      • Mold
      • Excessively high water bills

      Who To Call For A Sewer Line Inspection?

      A professional plumber should be able to perform a sewer line inspection for you. However, it’s important for you to verify that your plumber provides this service regularly as it requires specialized equipment and knowledge. 

      You can also save money by performing the inspection yourself if you buy the right equipment. 

      How Much Does A Sewer Line Inspection Cost?

      On average, a sewer line inspection will cost an average of $685. However, the service comes with a wide price range between $250 – $1175.

      One of the main factors that determine the costs involves the quality of the data as well as the type of data you receive. An advanced sewer video inspection will cost more than a couple of low-resolution pictures. 

      In some cases, the responsibility for the cost of the sewer line repair may fall on the local government. Since this varies from location to location, you should learn the ordinances in your area in advance so you don’t run into any surprises. 
      When done as a part of preventative plumbing maintenance, your homeowner’s insurance policy may cover the cost. Talk to your insurance agent to get the details of your specific plan.

      8 Steps Of A Sewer Line Inspection

      Step 1: Connect Correct Attachment to Sewer Line Tool

      First and foremost, you need the right tools for the job. 

      The tool required for a sewer line inspection is a long, flexible cable, known as an endoscope, that can navigate through your pipes, similar to an auger. However, this tool has a camera attachment at the end. 

      Step 2:  Verify Camera Connected to Monitor

      The camera on the flexible cable connects to a monitor so that the plumber can look at what the camera shows. It’s best to verify that the camera is connected to the monitor before starting work. 

      In most cases, the camera will connect to the monitor using WiFi or a USB cord, and the plumber can watch the images on a tablet, smartphone, or dedicated monitor. 

      Step 3: Feed Sewer Line Tool Into Cleanout 

      The plumber will feed the tool into the cleanout in your yard. The cleanout is an opening to your sewer line specifically to grant access for plumbers and homeowners to perform maintenance. 

      You will need a wrench to open the cleanout. You should also remember that most cleanouts are outside and may not have access to an electrical outlet. 

      Step 4: Analyze Images On Monitor

      As the tool makes its way through the sewer line, the plumber will look for a sewer problem. As we mentioned, you probably won’t see a leak. However, the camera will make it very obvious to find a clog. 

      Step 5: Mark Problem Area and Locate Lines

      The plumber will mark the location of a sewer clog based on the information they received from the inspection. A camera will also help identify tree root intrusions if any.

      They will also mark the location of different plumbing lines on your property, especially if you don’t have it clearly indicated already.

      Having the lines clearly marked will prevent problems down the line if you plan to do yard work or build on the land. 

      Step 6: Remove and Clean Sewer Line Tool

      After the inspection, the plumber will remove the tool and clean it thoroughly. Since the camera contains electronics, they probably won’t dowse the entire thing in water but rinse it off gently before drying it completely. 

      Step 7: Remove Clog From Sewer Line

      The plumber will now repair the clog at its source. If the clog developed underneath your foundation, the plumber may attempt to use a drain snake or chemical drain cleaner to break it up. If there is damage under concrete or hardscapes, they can use CIPP pipe lining to repair it to avoid digging.

      If the clog developed in an easy to locate area, they may dig in your yard to gain access to the pipe then disassemble it to clean the clog directly. Finally, they will reassemble the plumbing or replace damaged pieces with new pieces. 

      Step 8: Prevention

      Learn how to prevent a grease clog in your sewer line, including your septic tank and sump pump. 

      Start by not pouring cooking oil down the drain. This also goes for grease or fat, which will harden when it cools. Instead, dispose of those materials in the garbage. 

      Other items not to put down your drain include:

      You can also create your own homemade grease trap. It’s easier than you might expect!

      Final Thoughts On Having A Sewer Line Inspection

      A sewer backup can lead to a serious plumbing issue that requires expensive sewer line repair due to a slow drain or damaged pipe. A sewer line video inspection can spot blockage or another sewer line problem so that you can tackle the problem directly with DIY sewer repair.

      Get an inspection before your sewer line creates a drain on you and your household. 

      FAQs For Main Sewer Line Inspection

      What happens during a sewer inspection?

      During a sewer pipe inspection, you or a plumber will guide specialized camera equipment down your sewer line to examine for sewer line damage. Results transmit to a monitor or an iPhone. You will move forward based on the results. 

      How much does it cost to scope a drain line?

      The national average cost for a sewer line inspection is $685.

      How do you check a sewer line?

      To check a sewer line, feed an industrial endoscope into your sewer line through the cleanout and collect the data coming from the camera. Keep an eye open for pipe damage, but don’t expect to see a leak. 

      Does homeowners insurance cover sewer lines?

      In many cases, homeowner’s insurance will not cover plumbing including a sewer line inspection when done as part of preventative maintenance. It’s possible it could be covered as part of a larger people that caused water damage to your home. Ask your carrier.

      Meet Your Plumbing Navigator

      Plumbing Navigator: plumbing advice

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We’re passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, “how-to”, and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!

      Learn More Plumbing Tips

      Want to tackle more plumbing projects? Check out these helpful guides!

      best water heater stand
      tankless water heater flush kit
      best mesh drain strainer
      Best Shower Drain Cover

      Got Plumbing Questions? Search For In-Depth Answers Below!

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about "all things plumbing," helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

      Recently Published Guides