city maintains lower laterals

Many Sacramento Sewer Inspections Disclose Crumbling Orangeburg

sewer inspections sacramento

Always ask your Realtor about sewer inspections when buying a home in Sacramento.

If you think the life of a Sacramento Realtor is glamorous, I urge you to review videos of sewer inspections before breakfast. Some grungy guy mumbling as he sticks a camera into the bowels of a sewer line and you don’t even get to see him to figure out if he’s eye candy or not, like the guy in this photo. Nope, the only thing he’s showing you in this video is the hole in the ground and the churning interior of the sewer line. Yummy. And then the camera enters orangeburg. Blistering on the bottom. Never ever good news.

Yet, there are some home buyers in Sacramento who never think to order sewer inspections. Home inspections don’t cover sewer inspections. For an inexplicable reason, their agents don’t suggest sewer inspections, either. While any home can develop issues in a sewer line, the older the home, the more problematic it might be. It is very common for homes built prior to the 1970s to have orangeburg sewer lines. Some refer to the material as a fiber pulp conduit or tarpaper. Orangeburg lifespan is about 50 years.

We had orangeburg originally in my home in Land Park, replaced before we bought the house in 2002. It’s really prevalent in Land Park. If you own an older home in Land Park and have never done any sewer inspections, you should do so. The pipe could be crumbling and spewing waste into your yard. Leaks from sewer lines attract tree roots, and the next thing you know your line is backed up and plugged, and all the trees in your yard are shooting roots in a beeline over to your sewer line, which destroys its integrity. Tree roots seek out water and can slip into the tiniest of cracks.

If this happens in the upper lateral, you, the homeowner, are responsible for repairing it. You can choose a trenchless method, which is a flexible tube of sorts pulled into the sewer line, like a pipe within a pipe, so you don’t have to dig. Generally, just one hole in the yard is required. The trenchless method can save homeowners 50% or more on replacing a sewer line. But be careful, not all bids are equal. You will find trenchless companies that can charge a lot more than others, so shop around.

If you’re a seller, shop for rates before you are under the gun to do so, like when you’re in escrow. And if you’re a home buyer who is planning to purchase an older home, factor in the cost for a camera sewer inspection. It’s generally $100 to $200.

Oh, also, before I overlook this ditty, the city of Sacramento has reversed its decision not to maintain the lower lateral sewer lines. Just in case you need to know, the city will cover that cost. The upper laterals are the lines that run through your yard. The lower laterals are where it connects up to the city, generally in the street. Homeowners are responsible for the upper lateral and the City maintains the lower lateral.

My advice to home buyers, always get a sewer inspection, even for newer homes. It’s peace of mind.

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