Real Estate Tips June 27, 2024

The Importance of Sewer Scope Inspections When Buying a Home in Columbia, MO

When purchasing a home in Columbia, Missouri, there are numerous inspections and checks to consider. While many buyers focus on the visible aspects of a property, one crucial inspection that often gets overlooked is the sewer scope inspection. This examination can save homeowners thousands of dollars in potential repairs and prevent significant headaches down the road.

What is a Sewer Scope Inspection?

A sewer scope inspection involves inserting a specialized camera into the home’s sewer line to examine its condition. This camera, attached to a long, flexible cable, is fed through the drainpipe and transmits real-time video to a monitor. This allows the inspector to identify any existing or potential issues within the sewer system.

Why is a Sewer Scope Inspection Critical?

1. Identifying Hidden Problems

The sewer line is an essential component of a home’s plumbing system, yet it remains hidden underground. Without a proper inspection, you could be buying a property with severe sewer issues that aren’t immediately apparent. A sewer scope inspection can reveal problems such as cracks, tree root intrusions, blockages, or even collapsed pipes.

2. Potential Cost Savings

The cost of repairing or replacing a sewer line can be substantial. In fact, simply repairing a broken sewer pipe can cost up to $300 per foot, with total replacement costs potentially ranging from $2,500 to $30,000 or more. By investing in a sewer scope inspection before purchasing a home, you can avoid these unexpected and hefty expenses.

3. Negotiating Power

If the inspection uncovers issues with the sewer line, you can use this information to negotiate with the seller. You might be able to have the seller cover the repair costs or lower the home’s price to account for the necessary repairs.

4. Preventing Health Risks

A damaged sewer system can pose serious health risks. Broken pipes can allow harmful bacteria and viruses to seep into the surrounding soil or even back into the home. Some of these pathogens include E. coli, typhoid fever, salmonella, and hepatitis A. A sewer scope inspection can help ensure the safety of your future living environment.

5. Avoiding Structural Damage

Sewer line problems can lead to significant structural issues in a home. Leaking pipes can cause soil erosion, potentially leading to foundation cracks or shifts. Moreover, backed-up sewage can result in flooding, which can damage floors, walls, and personal belongings.

Columbia’s Aging Infrastructure

Columbia, Missouri, like many cities across the United States, has an aging sewer infrastructure. Some parts of the city’s sewer system date back several decades, making sewer scope inspections even more crucial for homebuyers in the area.

The City of Columbia’s Sewer Utility department uses advanced closed-circuit television systems to inspect public sewer mains and service line connections. However, the responsibility for the sewer line from the house to the city’s main line typically falls on the homeowner. This makes it essential for buyers to conduct their own inspections before purchasing a property.

What to Expect During a Sewer Scope Inspection

A sewer scope inspection in Columbia is a relatively quick and non-invasive process. A trained professional will insert the camera into the sewer line, usually through a cleanout or by removing a toilet. As the camera moves through the pipe, it records video footage that the inspector can analyze in real-time.

The inspection will reveal:

1. The material of the sewer line (e.g., clay, PVC, cast iron)
2. The overall condition of the pipe
3. Any cracks, breaks, or collapses in the line
4. Tree root intrusions
5. Blockages or obstructions
6. Improper installation or repairs

After the Inspection

If issues are discovered during the sewer scope inspection, don’t panic. Not all problems require expensive repairs or complete line replacement. In many cases, a sewer cleaning contractor can clear blockages, remove scaling or buildup, and even address minor root intrusions.

For more significant issues, there are often less invasive repair options available. Trenchless repair methods, such as pipe relining or pipe bursting, can often address problems without the need for extensive excavation. These methods can be more cost-effective and less disruptive than traditional sewer line replacement.

Choosing a Sewer Scope Inspector in Columbia

When selecting a professional to perform your sewer scope inspection in Columbia, consider the following:

1. Experience: Look for inspectors with a proven track record in the Columbia area.
2. Certification: Ensure they are properly certified and licensed to perform sewer inspections.
3. Equipment: They should use modern, high-quality inspection cameras.
4. Reporting: Ask about their reporting process. A good inspector will provide a detailed report with video footage.
5. Insurance: Verify that they carry proper insurance.


Investing in a sewer scope inspection when buying a home in Columbia, MO, is a wise decision that can save you from future headaches and significant expenses. While it may seem like an additional cost in the home-buying process, the potential savings and peace of mind it provides are invaluable.

Remember, what lies beneath the surface of a property can be just as important as what’s visible above ground. By including a sewer scope inspection in your home-buying process, you’re taking a proactive step to protect your investment and ensure the health and safety of your future home.

Don’t let a hidden sewer problem turn your dream home into a nightmare. Make a sewer scope inspection a non-negotiable part of your home-buying checklist in Columbia, MO. It’s a small investment that can yield significant returns in the long run.