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Sep 10

How Much Does a Sewer Scope Inspection Cost?

A sewer scope inspection can cost $130-$360, depending on the factors we outline below.

First, let’s go over how your sewer system works and when you may need an inspection.

When to Get a Sewer Scope Inspection

Your sewer system uses gravity to carry wastewater from your home to the city sewer system. The plumbing in your home connects to a sewer main, which is usually 3–5 feet wide, that then connects to the city sewer main.

While the city manages cleaning and repairing the city sewer main, you’re responsible for maintaining the sewer line on your property, which includes getting sewer scope inspections when needed.

Our specialists at Alpha Environmental recommend getting a sewer scope inspection when:

  • You buy a new home. Home inspectors cover a range of plumbing conditions inside the house, but can often overlook the main sewer line because they either don’t have the right equipment or specialized knowledge to properly inspect it.
  • Water is backing up in your yard. Water backed up on your lawn is usually a sure sign of a broken sewer main. A sewer scope inspection will tell you exactly what the problem is and where it’s located.
    • Your landscaping has a lot of large trees. A big problem for sewer lines is root intrusion, also called root invasion, which is where tree roots grow their way into the main sewer pipe through cracks and joint gaps. Inspecting for root intrusion every few years will help detect invading roots before they grow dense enough to clog the pipe.
  • Your house or building is more than 25 years old. Most sewer pipes can last anywhere from 50 to 100 years, but it’s a good idea to get a sewer scope inspection after 25 or so years to keep an eye on potential problems with your sewer line.
  • The soil is shifting. In places like Portland that get a lot of rain and even freezing weather, the expanding and contracting of the soil can cause it to shift. This shifting can then cause sewer lines to crack or rupture from the stress of either too much pressure (when the soil expands) or not enough support (when the soil contracts and erodes).

Variables That Affect Cost of a Sewer Scope

While sewer inspections normally cost somewhere between $130 and $360 in Portland, the main factor of your sewer inspection cost will depend on the type of service you need:

  • Residential services:
    • Sewer line inspection: $130
    • Inspection and toilet removal: $185
    • Inspection and mapping: $205
  • Commercial sewer line inspection: $360

Your sewer inspection cost will also depend on:

  • How long your sewer line is. The longer your sewer line is, the more time a specialist will have to spend running the camera down it. This will increase the cost of the labor.
  • Sewer cleanout accessibility. Your sewer cleanout is where the specialist will access the sewer line to feed the camera down it. If the cleanout is in a place that’s difficult to access, the specialist may need to spend more time on the inspection, increasing labor costs.
  • Whether you want additional services. If you want the specialist to also clear a clog, repair damages to the sewer line, or retrieve any objects, you’ll have to pay for those services on top of the inspection.

What’s Included in a Sewer Scope Inspection?

A sewer scope inspection involves running a specialized, waterproof camera down the sewer main and surrounding pipes. The camera feeds video images to a monitor, allowing the specialist to examine the pipe and pinpoint any potential issues.

After the inspection is complete, the specialist will tell you what they found and give you (and the seller if you’re buying a house) a report outlining the condition of the sewer line.

Any additional services outside of the inspection will cost extra.

What’s Not Included in an Inspection?

The costs outlined above only include the cost of the inspection itself.

If you need a sewer repair, that will be additional charges on top of the sewer inspection cost. You’ll need a sewer repair if the sewer inspection detects any of the following issues:

  • Broken, cracked or misaligned pipes: If you haven’t already started noticing issues from a broken sewer pipe—like water backing up on your lawn, multiple clogged drains or sewage smells—it’s only a matter of time before you do.
  • Root intrusion: Root invasion is something you’ll want to take care of before the roots grow more densely in the pipe, which would eventually lead to a blockage.
  • Low area/Sag/Belly: Your sewer line should sit in a straight line at a slight angle to properly carry wastewater from your home. Eroding soil can cause the sewer line to develop a low area (also called a “sag” or “belly”) in the pipe. This low area traps wastewater, preventing it from flowing properly into the municipal sewer system.
  • Channeling: Channeling happens when the wastewater erodes the bottom of the sewer pipe, forming a ravine, and slows the flow of wastewater. If the pipe has worn away completely, this can also cause the water to flow into the surrounding soil, flooding your lawn or encouraging soil erosion.
  • Grease or sludge buildup: Like root intrusion, any kind of grease, sludge or other buildup in the sewer line will only get worse over time. You’re better off clearing the buildup before it clogs the line and backs up onto your lawn or into your tub and sink drains.

Get an Inspection Before It’s Too Late

Getting a sewer inspection before you need one can save you money in the long run because it helps prevent minor issues from turning into major problems—and expensive repairs.

For example, a sewer inspection would catch things like:

  • A crack that could lead to a burst pipe
  • Minimal root intrusion or sludge buildup that would eventually clog the line
  • A low area that could turn into a misaligned pipe

Those situations would lead to expensive sewer repairs—not to mention possible costs to repair landscaping.

Contact Us for Sewer Scope Inspections in Portland

At Alpha Environmental, our specialists have the experience and know-how to properly inspect your sewer line. Our advanced equipment will help catch any potential issues before they become expensive repairs.

 Call us today at (503) 292-5346 or contact us online to schedule a free sewer inspection estimate.

Matthew Micheletty

About The Author

Matthew has been Alpha's Director of Operations for over four years. He works directly with our clients in effort to provide exceptional customer service as well as managing the day to day of the company. When he's not at the office, you can find him at Red Tail Golf Club or cruising PDX in one of his project cars.