Before purchase an investment property, it is important to check the condition of the sewer line during the inspection period to ensure there are no costly breaks or “bellies” (sags) in the line that could lead to a sewage backup. Once we place the tenants inside the property, the sewer backup can cause seriously property damage, rent loss, and even lawsuits between rental property owners and tenants.
Sewer line repairs and replacements are costly… and I am stunned at how often buyers or property owners of older homes don’t even know that the sewer lines should be inspected and cleaned.
Sewer scopes and cleaning are not glamorous events. While it is important to inspect and clean the sewer line, please be aware of many scams out there and not all plumbing companies are reputable, so it is important to do the following:
* Check references and obtain price quotes from several different companies before contracting with a plumber or drain cleaning company
* Find out what warranties, if any, are offered with the service
* When the sewer line needs to be cleaned, make sure the plumber or drain cleaning service uses a three or four inch cutting blade, as most residential sewer lines are four inches in diameter. A small blade may be easier for the technician to use, but it may not effectively cut the roots and the line will clog again in a shorter period of time.
* When the sewer line is scoped (inspected with a video camera), make sure you get a copy of the DVD showing the camera’s journey through the line, and that the DVD you receive is actually for your sewer line and not someone else’s.
Finally, realize that there is no such thing as a “perfect” sewer line, and that different inspectors may have slightly different opinions about the severity of a situation. By all means, if you are concerned, get a second opinion or make sure that the inspector has adequately explained his findings.
One last thing… some local municipalities will actually volunteer waste water division staff members to review your sewer line DVD with you to help you assess the condition of your pipe. Check with your city or municipality to see if they provide any similar service.
Sewer line repair scams are costly. The best protection against scams is a solid education, so make sure you understand the situation precisely before making any major decisions as landlord
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