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copper drain lines


Jerry Lozier
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Got one of those hiney pucker calls today .....'hey, we got a major drain leak' ......

Inspected 2 months ago, mid 70's home 2 story daylight basement (bank owned, no disclosure paperwork), 2" copper drain pipe under slab, pretty long run and probably not enough slope to drain, it has been leaking a long time, whole bottom is corroded out (1" x 12" hole in bottom of pipe in section of slab they cut out). So it finally plugged solid and backed up into upstairs kitchen sink. Nothing notable to report on any visible drain lines.

The plumber that came out to clear their 'clog' said he was there several years ago and warned the previous owners at that time there was a problem

They just wanted me to see the mess they have, which I did, and they do ( have a mess)

Any words of wisdom on verbage for future reporting when I see copper drain pipes.... as I don't know if there was anything short of running a camera down it that would have caught this.

Jerry

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Got one of those hiney pucker calls today .....'hey, we got a major drain leak' ......

Inspected 2 months ago, mid 70's home 2 story daylight basement (bank owned, no disclosure paperwork), 2" copper drain pipe under slab, pretty long run and probably not enough slope to drain, it has been leaking a long time, whole bottom is corroded out (1" x 12" hole in bottom of pipe in section of slab they cut out). So it finally plugged solid and backed up into upstairs kitchen sink. Nothing notable to report on any visible drain lines.

The plumber that came out to clear their 'clog' said he was there several years ago and warned the previous owners at that time there was a problem

They just wanted me to see the mess they have, which I did, and they do ( have a mess)

Any words of wisdom on verbage for future reporting when I see copper drain pipes.... as I don't know if there was anything short of running a camera down it that would have caught this.

Jerry

I don't know of anything you could have done. Stuff happens.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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In cases like this, and especially with anything more than about 30 years old, I recommend having the sewer lines inspected with a video camera. A brief explanation as to the sort of things that can happen is also in my report.

The better equipped rooter services can do this. Typically, I suspect they would only do the main and not the smaller lines, but at least you made the buyer aware of the potential for additional problems.

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Assuming bank owned and vacant. This is what I say in the report in the that situation.

Since the house is vacant at the time of the inspection, the plumbing system can't be tested under normal operation. Some conditions may not be detectable during the inspection. For example: leakage within a wall/ceiling or clogged drain/waste lines.

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The drain lines are old. I can't see the parts of the pipe that are hidden underground. I don't know the condition of the underground pipe. If the pipe fails (as old pipes often do), sewage could back up into the house. I recommend that you have an appropriate contractor run a sewer camera through the drain pipe(s) and tell you what problems, if any, exist in the pipe(s). If the contractor finds problems, get them fixed.

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The drain lines are old. I can't see the parts of the pipe that are hidden underground. I don't know the condition of the underground pipe. If the pipe fails (as old pipes often do), sewage could back up into the house. I recommend that you have an appropriate contractor run a sewer camera through the drain pipe(s) and tell you what problems, if any, exist in the pipe(s). If the contractor finds problems, get them fixed.

Around here, sewer scoping is routinely done on nearly every older house transaction. But I've never seen them scope a 2" kitchen drain line. How do they get the camera into that line?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I have verbiage in my report at the start of the plumbing category in my report that says underground plumbing pipes are out of view and are, therefore, outside the scope of the inspection. You can't inspect what you can't see. Copper drains were fairly common in the 50s and 60s if I recall. Stuff happens..

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