Why do I need a sewer scope?

sewer repair_ctaWhat are the reasons for sewer scoping?

There are several reasons why people would do a sewer scope (also known as a sewer camera or sewer snake), here are a few of them:

  • Purchasing a home
    • Because a sewer scope is not included in a normal home inspection, it must be requested and done separately and is very important
    • You want to ensure the condition of the line is healthy to avoid a huge repair bill in the future
  • Have recurring problems with a particular line and would like to see what the main culprit is
    • Maybe root growth causing backups every fall, and the backups are now more frequent
    • Suddenly, the bath tub is taking way too long to drain
    • Problems have resulted from other service people performing work on or in the house
    • Someone tried to clean the pipe and can’t get through the line
  • Curiosity
    • Some people just want to see what their line looks like

*A note about pre and post cleaning scoping, in our humble opinion.

  • Pre-cleaning sewer scoping
    • Not recommended, because you can’t see anything when a sewer is backed up
    • For example, submerge a camera into murky water and you’ll see why it’s not recommended
  • Post-cleaning sewer scoping
    • The point of this would be to prove that the work was actually completed. If you need reassurance, then perhaps you have the wrong contractor. Warrantying the work is typically a less expensive option.

With other questions about sewer cameras, please call our trained staff at 303-571-5114. We would be happy to answer all of your questions.

How Much Does Sewer Scoping Cost?

video_ctaUse of a sewer scope (also knowing as a sewer snake or sewer camera) can range from free to $400 in the greater Denver Metro area.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why you would pay $400 instead of $0.

Most of the time, companies that offer it on the lower end, it’s because they are looking for upsell opportunities, which are very easy to obtain.

The high range usually includes coming back out a second time, which is necessary in certain cases.

Example: Property seller Johnny Johnson is selling his home to interested home buyer Sally Sue. Sally Sue gets a video scope of the sewer lines and it appears to her that there is significant problem where it meets the city sewer and she wants it taken care of. The technician lets her know there is root growth at tap. Johnny Johnson decides to perform repair of a pipe before he sells the house to Sally Sue. Johnny Johnson hires a crew to fix the problem and re-scopes the line to prove to Sally Sue that the pipe is free and clear, and restored. Sally now has the photos and video for her records.

In our article, the Red Flags of Sewer Scopes, you can read about things to watch for to avoid a scam when choosing who will perform this service.

It sounds so simple, why does it cost so much?

The sewer camera equipment is very expensive, costing between $7,000 and $12,000 and requires frequent costly repairs. Properly trained technicians are best at diagnosing true problems and being able to explain to you the results of the scoping.

The general process:

Put the camera down the line, the camera takes live video, and it also snaps still photos to document the situation.

The camera is on the end of a long cable and has a small aperture, which can make small things look very big.

What can the video and still photos from the sewer scope be used for?

  • Real estate negotiations
  • Court of law
  • Your own records

Red Flags of Sewer Scope Inspections

garvins_cta3With sewer line repairs starting at $3500 and replacements costing upwards of tens of thousands, spending just a couple hundred dollars for a sewer scope (aka sewer camera) inspection is a good investment. This is especially true in property transactions and in homes with problematic sewer systems.

However, it is important to know what we call “red flags” of sewer scope inspection. These will help you to be sure that your inspection is being adhered to ethically:

  1. You receive an offer that sounds too good to be true. Maybe it is deeply discounted or even  a complimentary offer for a sewer scope inspection. We have found that in many of these cases, the company finds a justifiable reason to do a repair/ replacement to make up for the reduced cost.
  2. You get a routine cleaning done, or have a clog, and the company tells you they need to jackhammer the floor/ replace or repair the line, and you feel hostage or pressured into making a quick decision.
  3. If the line is full of water, you are not able to see what the problem is- so if you are told, “It’s broken”, and the line isn’t opened enough to drain, get a second opinion, it might not be.
  4. If they use the sewer scope when you are not present, be sure it is actually your line you are looking at. If you are only seeing a 30-second video clip, it is possible you are not even looking at your own line or problem.
  5. Remember that the sewer scope has a small lens and this may cause problems to look bigger than they are. Don’t be alarmed by seeing roots in your line- these are common and can be cleaned out. Don’t confuse joints with breaks. A small belly isn’t always the cause for a repair. If in doubt, get a second opinion.
  6. Finally, if the company can not, will not or charges you extra for a copy of your DVD, this is a red flag —they don’t want you to get a second opinion! Your local sanitation department or Garvin’s can look at the DVD for free.

For more information, tips or questions, give us a call! (303) 571-5114

"Your Sewer Scope Saved Us Over $8500!"

drain_ctaYou take your car into the shop. The mechanic notices you need an oil change —he recommends a new engine. That’s one solution, but another solution is to do an oil change. We believe in preventative maintenance over replacement. However, we recognize there are times for replacement. Our goals is to give you the options that others may be relunctant to. Here is the testimonial from our client in Westminster, CO:

“Just “thank you” for your excellent advice and serivce does not seem sufficient enough. Your company saved us $8659 from being scammed into major excavation work on our property. After talking with Mitch regarding our problem, we were certain that we wanted your company’s advice and [2nd] opinion.

We were very impressed with your serviceman who did an excellent job with the drain cleaning and explaining what we were seeing as the camera went through the sewer line. He also gave us the sewer scope DVD showing the condition of the sewer. We were advised that our sewer did not need work beyond what was done on the day your compay inspected it. We would not even consider using anyone else but Garvin’s in the future and we will continue letting others know of the service you provide.

It is a pleasure working with people of your knowledge and integrity.


Daniel & Evelyn”

We’ve survived in the Denver area for over 70 years based on our integrity, so on behalf of Garvin’s Sewer Service, you’re welcome!

Realtor Sewer Scope Presentation

garvins_cta3Over a month ago, we were contacted by a Realtor whom we had dome business for, asking us if we would do an educational presentation. I wasn’t sure if we were to expect 6 people or 100, but agreed.
We have seen an increased unethical practice within our industry where homeowners are being told they need a sewer line repair and our second opinion investigations are not showing that to be true. Because of this, not only are homeowners making fear-based, uneducated and expensive decisions to do such repairs, but Realtors are losing their closings (and their clients are potentially losing their dream homes). We wanted to educate Realtors on what a break looks like, how it happens and how to spot those “red flags” of sewer line repair dishonesty. We took a look at some sewer scope video to show how they’re being misread by less scrupulous sewer repair techs.
The seminar had over 5o people in attendance. The presentation went so well — questions were being asked and answered, stories were told of disasters, and of course, the sewer and plumber puns and jokes were flying. All in all, we had a great time and think we really helped some Realtors with their questions. In fact, we later received this brief testimonial from one such Realtor in attendance:
Hi Kris and Mitch,
Thank you, thank you for sharing your services at our Keller William Sales Meeting this past week.  The information you shared was timely and well thought out!  In fact today, Bob [omit] in our office came by asking me if I had your phone number.  I started digging in my files for your number from a sewer scope you did for my son on [omit] Holly and then I remembered I had your magnetic business card in my purse.  Needless to say, you made an impression on Bob who has been in the business for over 30 years.  Way to go!
Thanks again!  Cheryl
Thank you as well Cheryl (and Bob)!
If you are in the Greater Denver area and would like Mitch and I to speak at YOUR Realtor or homeowner’s association meeting, we are happy to do that free of charge. It is an educational meeting and we will need 20-45 min. to speak and answer questions. Contact Kris at (303) 571-5114 to schedule, and visit our facebook page!

Q: To Sewer Scope or Not to Sewer Scope

GarvinsLogo200WaterDear PlumbingGirl,
We had a sewer backup last week and you guys came out and sewer snaked our sewer line and got things working again. The line was not sewer scoped. The person that came out did not know the cause of the line becoming plugged. Would you recommend a video scope to make sure that there are not structural defects in our line such as sags or cracks?
Kevin of Louisville

Hi Kevin,

If the line is now flowing well and you don’t have another back-up within a year, I personally say, don’t worry about using a sewer scope camera on the line. Typically, if a homeowner with normal line use is experiencing back-ups more often than 6-12 months, then I suggest a sewer scope. Some homeowners only require a sewer line cleaning every few years. Some people, just for curiosity or peace of mind, will do a scope anyway. If you choose to do one, the cost is $235 and that includes a DVD.

Thanks for asking!

Too good to be true?

mZSRc-video-24-512Have you ever received a flyer in the mail or heard an advertisement on the radio about a free or a discounted price on a sewer scope video inspection of your sewer line?

This seems to be a great deal, but like all good things, there just may be a catch. Please know some companies offer promotions to open the door for the opportunity to get thousands of dollars from you, by replacing or repairing a sewer line that doesn’t need to be fixed.
If you do decide to go with one of these promotions, here are 5 pointers:

1) First, don’t waste money trying to camera a line full of water. If your sewer line is plugged up all you will see is a pipe full of water or debris.

2) Make sure you are with the service tech when he is doing the inspection and have him scan the area he is working in with the sewer camera, so you know that it’s your home sewer line that he is taping. Watch the monitor with the tech, and ask questions. When done, ask for the recording of your sewer line, if they can’t produce one be very leery, especially if they want to replace your sewer line.

3) Don’t be alarmed by seeing tree roots growing into your sewer line. Just finding roots in your line does not mean that your sewer line needs to be replaced, as this is a normal occurrence with homes that have clay tile pipes. All you may need is to clean the roots out of the sewer line at least once a year.

4) Some sewer lines will have low spots, which means it has a belly and can cause a backup. Again remember that the camera rides on the bottom of pipe and sometimes this makes the low spot looks worse than it really is. If the low spot is only a couple of feet long it really isn’t worth digging up the sewer line. Once again preventive maintenance on the sewer line could save you thousands of dollars.

5) If there is a problem with the sewer line, a reputable company will mark the spot and give you a fair price. It is always a good idea to get a second or even a third estimate. A couple hundred dollars could save you thousands!

In closing, be aware what’s going on when hiring a sewer camera inspection for your sewer line. The cheapest price doesn’t always mean the best or honest service. If there is any doubt about the condition of your sewer line, always get a second opinion, the money that you spend just might save you thousands of dollars. Preventive maintenance on the sewer line goes a long way to prevent a collapse or a break in the line. Additionally, using root killer to slow down root growth can save your sewer line for years to come.

Mitch Gebauer
Service Manager, Garvin’s Sewer Service