More Problems Home Inspectors Tend to Miss: Sewer & Septic Tank Issues

Mr. Rooter Plumbing showing a customer a drain camera on tablet
Home inspections tell you the real state of a home for sale so you don’t have to take it on the authority of the seller whether or not the property is in good repair. A home inspection should identify both small and large issues that either devalue the home or pose a concern for buyers so you can make a decision regarding whether you want to purchase the property and the price you are willing to pay.

professional plumberIn the past, I’ve outlined several common issues that home inspectors miss during an evaluation. In this article, I’d like to expand that discussion to include plumbing problems, particularly sewer and septic tank issues. Home inspectors only survey the aspects of a home within sight or easy reach. A sewer line or septic tank lies underground, where it cannot be inspected by eye. Additionally, plumbing knowledge may vary widely from one inspector to the next, and home inspectors are not required to have any plumbing expertise at all. These reasons are likely why home inspectors often miss plumbing problems—and why you may want to consider contacting Mr. Rooter Plumbing to perform a detailed evaluation of any home you are seriously considering for purchase.

Sewer Problems

When a home is connected to the city sewer system, there is a small sewer line that transports wastewater from the home into the sewer main under the street. In most areas, these sewer lines are considered private property, which means upkeep and repair of these lines falls to the homeowner. Many factors can affect a sewer line’s integrity, including age, the type and amount of waste it must transport, and tree roots that may have penetrated the pipe, causing it to leak or collapse. Clogs can cause the drain to become slow or even back up into the home, resulting in a flood of sewage that can damage your property and affect your health. Only a video inspection of the sewer line can tell you whether it has any issues. This type of detailed inspection is not included in a regular home inspection, which will only determine whether the sinks and toilets seem to be draining properly.

Septic Tank Problems

Homes that are not serviced by a city sewer system use septic tanks to treat wastewater. Septic tanks are often not included in home inspections, and major problems may be missed even when the tank is examined. A brief inspection may indicate that the tank looks to be in good shape, but without completely pumping and inspecting the tank and its connections, there is no real way to tell the state of the septic system. Overuse, poor maintenance practices, and damaged pipes can cause clogs and flood your yard with waste, damaging your property and threatening local water sources. Installing a new septic system can cost tens of thousands of dollars, while extensive repairs can be comparable in terms of cost. If you are seriously considering a home that uses a septic system, hiring a plumber to perform a thorough inspection of the tank will give you the insight you need if you do choose to place a bid on the home.

Whether you are preparing to buy a home or have recently purchased the property only to find out you’ve inherited someone else’s drain problems, Mr. Rooter Plumbing can help. Don’t try to handle sewer or septic tank issues on your own—call a professional plumber to ensure the job is handled properly and thoroughly so you can rest easy in your new home.

Have you ever had plumbing problems in a new home?

  • We’ve had to deal with a sewer back up in our new home
  • The previous homeowner had planted trees that cracked our sewer pipe
  • We had to replace the entire septic system—next time we’ll have it inspected by a plumber!

Mr. Rooter icon

About the Author: Steve Ferree, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Portland

Steve has been a trusted Mr. Rooter owner of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Portland since 1999. With over 20 years to back him, Steve has experience with a wide range of plumbing-related solutions and systems. He and his team specialize in drain cleaning, sewer repair, re-piping, and more.