Your SLE sewer line scope will include a narrated video of the main sewer line, addressing the pipe materials in the system and any potential issues in those materials, from minor issues to significant problems that can affect the performance of the main sewer line more immediately. Your home inspector will provide a verbal debrief at the end of the sewer line evaluation, as well as a written report containing a link to the video of the system within 24 hours of our examination. Your report will contain photos of any problematic areas in the system, locations and depths of these areas and a rough estimate for any needed repairs. Our Burbank home inspectors use top of the line camera equipment, as lesser quality cameras can miss important details in the system that can lead costly surprises down the road.
Cracked Clay Pipe in HD vs. a Lesser Quality Camera

Having the main sewer line evaluated is a vital part of the inspection process and if left unexamined, can lead to unexpected and expensive repairs in the future. Having this system evaluated provides a better understanding of the overall condition of the property and can allow for you to better negotiate your deal to the benefit of your client.

Sewer lines are made up of several different materials, each with their own potential issues. Below are the most common materials seen in sewer lines and the types of problems seen in those pipes.

Majority of main sewer lines have at least some clay pipe, with a significant amount being made entirely of clay. These clay pipes have a tendency to shift at the joint line as well as crack, due to the brittle nature of this material. This can allow water to escape from the clay, eroding the soil around of the main sewer line over time and creating a potential sink hole, which is a major health and safety hazard.

Due to the porous nature of the mortar used to connect bell and spigot clay pipe joints, moisture is able to escape at these joints which attracts tree roots which penetrate the clay at the joint. This is a very common condition our Burbank home inspectors find in clay pipe and can generally be maintained, however in many cases these roots are left unmaintained and cause obstructions and can even damage the pipe. If left unaddressed, these obstructions can cause the main sewer line to back up into the building, causing costly damage to the home. Regular maintenance of the main sewer line is very important for this reason.

Cast iron pipes generally last between 60 to 80 years. This material was in use in sewer lines during the mid-century and before, meaning most cast iron pipe in main sewer lines is ready to be replaced. Common conditions in cast iron include heavy deterioration to the pipe floor, allowing seepage which wears out the support under the pipe and can cause a sink hole if left unaddressed. The corrosion in cast iron can also build up in the pipe, heavily restricting the drainage of the main sewer line which can result in the main sewer line backing up into the structure, leading to expensive repairs.

Plastic is ideal for sewer lines, due to the smooth inner surface, which allows for debris to easily wash through the pipe. If installed properly, this material is also virtually impervious to roots. However, if improperly installed, these plastic pipes can become root intruded at the joint line which will restrict drainage and can start to hold water and debris, creating a potential back up into the home.
If the wrong adhesive is used for joining the plastic sections, plastic pipe can also become root intruded and separate, which will restrict the drainage of the pipe.

Orangeberg, while not limited to these areas, is a material more commonly seen in the West Valley (Encino, Tarzana, Reseda, etc.) This pipe material get its name from the city where it was manufactured (Orangeberg, New York) and was used as a solution to a metal shortage during world 2. Orangeberg is made up of wood pulp and tar, which deteriorates over time as water and debris wash through it. Orangeberg also can become root intruded as it breaks down. Attempting to remove the root intrusion, which will create an obstruction in the line over time, with a snaking or “hydrojetting” (a method of cleaning that utilizes high pressure water) will result in the destruction of the Orangeberg. Also, due to the weak composition of Orangeberg, this pipe material begins to flatten over time as a result of the weight of the soil and any trees, building materials, etc above the pipe pressing down on it. Orangeberg is no longer permitted for use in sewer lines due to its weak structure, however there is still a significant amount of this material in use in older homes today.