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Videocam Sewer System


kurt
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How many out there recommend, or even think about, condition of the building sewer? This has become a surprisingly common defect in my work area (inner City Chicago). Everything is terra cotta clay tile around here; that's the problem. The number of sewers all blown apart by tree roots, building settlement, or general aging is quite large.

Just curious........ I've gotten to the point where I advise the videoscope on about 75% of the properties I inspect.

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Originally posted by Jerry Simon

Was in Beverly (nice south Chicago suburb) last week, ground had sunk about 18" around most of the home. Do you think that the broken clay drain tiles were allowing soil to erode into them, causing the ground to sink (duh!). Realtor said I couldn't comment on what I couldn't see. She made BIG mistake there.

There's an interesting theory; let's not think about what we can't see. sheeeesh......

All those National Power Rodding trucks we see cleaning out the sewers in the middle of the night are sucking the mud out of the sewer that washes in through broken & cracked tiles.

I'm still surprised that some customers don't take my advice, & then call me back to ask who can fix it; usually they're newbies who still don't get what's at stake & in play in the real estate game.

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Originally posted by admin

Hi Kurt,

I recommend it all the time on any home over 50 years old in one particular area of Seattle where I know a lot of the waste lines are vitrified clay.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Same here. Although, lately, the realtors are a step ahead of me. They frequently schedule the video guy at the same time as the home inspection.

Maybe it's just me, but I think those things are really cool. What do you suppose they cost? (If I buy one, I promise to use it only for good, never for evil.)

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Most of this area has expansive clay soil condition. I recommend a hydro static test on every house that I do. Some companies use video, but, the more common test is to insert a test ball into the cleanout, then fill the drain system and allow it to stay for 30 minutes. If it holds, ok. If not, there is a leak. If there is a leak, then video equip is used to isolate the problem.

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They're about $3000 to start; the one you want is around $4400. I thought about getting one, then I ran into union problems because I'm not a union plumber (this is Chicago!). I've been using a couple union shops & handling scheduling for a small fee. I get dirty enough w/out hauling around sewage laden equipment; I don't really want one anymore.

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  • 1 year later...

Jerry...Beverly is within the corporate limits of the city of Chicago. The realtors down there are a bit like the Gold Coast Witches but with cloth coats. Anyway, I recommend a telescopic (is that the right word?) inspection of the sub-surface drainage system in any home built before WWII or if I see suspicious dips in the lawn or humps in the basement slab or deteriorated clay tile drains in the catch basin or I'm not sure what else might jog my memory.

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Originally posted by Jerry Simon

Realtor said I couldn't comment on what I couldn't see. She made BIG mistake there.

Forgive the drift, but I heard back through the grapevine today that I had no business reporting a large, dead tree close to a house I inspected the other day. They just don't get it...that whole "client" thing.

Brian G.

Clients, Not Customers

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No they don't,

They obviously also don't understand that, if the client moves into a home with a dead tree next to it, doesn't do anything to have the tree inspected by an arborist, and declared healthy and not a threat to the home, and it falls on the home, the client is screwed. The insurance company will not pay because the client hasn't exercised due diligence. Who do you suppose the client comes after then?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by kurt

How many out there recommend, or even think about, condition of the building sewer? This has become a surprisingly common defect in my work area (inner City Chicago). Everything is terra cotta clay tile around here; that's the problem. The number of sewers all blown apart by tree roots, building settlement, or general aging is quite large.

Just curious........ I've gotten to the point where I advise the videoscope on about 75% of the properties I inspect.

Hi Kurt:

When I see a home that has old growth trees on the front lawn or tree lawn I always recommend having the sewers scoped. I tell my clients that it's not "if" but "when" the main sewer will back up.

For those that are buying low end older homes, and don't have two nickles to rub together, I advise them sign a service agreement with a local plumber and have the main snaked out once a year.

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  • 1 year later...

I recently picked up a neato cheap 65 foot sewer cam setup in a nice case for $500 distributed by Harbor Freight around these parts and made under the Chicago electric brand.

I even hear it was on sale once for around $300 a while back but I missed out on that.

Its cheapo but I got the extended warranty on it.

I am not going to make it a practice to look down sewers etc. Theres been a couple of occasions where for curiosities sake I have wanted to look in suspicous dryer vent ducts and the like and once I had a client request to check the internals of the HVAC distribution system for water and debris.

Chris, Oregon

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  • 3 months later...

I converted an underwater camera I got for $100 at harbor freight. http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/d ... mber=91309

Didn't have to do much, I took the weight off of the camera, trimmed the fins off and took the housing apart to modify it so the cable comes out the back. While the camera was out of the waterproof case I adjusted the lens so it focuses at a few inches instead of in the 1 foot range.

I got it because the rotorooter guy wanted $188 to find the problem in my line. It took me about 5 minutes to find the crushed PVC and 2 days to dig it up and fix it. Anyway, after the "conversion" I just taped the cable to an electrical fish tape. Only other thing I have used it for was to verify a break in some underfloor flex duct as no crawl space access was provided. If anybody is interested I can post pics of the modified camera.

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Brother Brian G wrote: Forgive the drift, but I heard back through the grapevine today that I had no business reporting a large, dead tree close to a house I inspected the other day. They just don't get it...that whole "client" thing.

I say: Not to sound all smartass, but two things come to mind:

1. Has the world gotten so specialized that we need home inspectors to point out bigass dead trees? In the summertime? When deadness couldn't be more obvious?

2. Does the RE agent think the guy's not going to notice?

Amazed,

WJid="blue">

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You know, sometimes it has; I get folks that don't see the big dead tree in their yard. And these are tiny little city yards. Always kind of scares and amazes me.

Maybe it's city folks. Shoot, that could be a great gig. Tree inspector.... all I'd have to do would be drive around, and answer a single question;

"Yep, ma'am..... it's daid."

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There is a plumbing company that has equipped all of their trucks with sewer cams. For 89 bucks they'll come and scope the plumbing. These guys often times will show up by the end of the inspection if I call them at the beginning.

Many of our older neighbourhoods have enormous maple trees in the front yards, I always recommend a scope.

-Brad

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

Has the world gotten so specialized that we need home inspectors to point out bigass dead trees? In the summertime? When deadness couldn't be more obvious?

I think there's more to blame than just specialization, but the answer is often "yes". I'd say that 75% of time when I point out a big dead tree within reach of the house they go "Wow, I didn't even notice that".

Does the RE agent think the guy's not going to notice?

I don't know what they think Walter, but I sure know what they're praying for. Shame on them; good for us. [:-paperba

Brian G.

Per'fessional Daid Tree Pointer-Outer [^]

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Up here is Water Wonderland Michigan - Trees appear to be dead 6 month out of the year. So, I write "That tree out there appears to be dead. Have an arborist look at it asap. IF that tree is dead, it could fall on you and put your eye out!"

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I'm sort of overwhelmed with documenting all the problems I can see.

I don't recommend a scope unless there are signs of back-up flooding or a heaving basement floor or a sink in the the yard or a clean-out station in the yard or something/anything that says you should have a scope.

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True, but isn't a big tree in the parkway, or a 100 year old problem sewer "visible"? I know, I'm stretching definitions, but it's so common, I think we're allowed to point out nasty old stuff and tell folks they oughta have it looked @, even if there's no visible problem.

Heck, half the folks I work for in the City have already had the problem, or know someone who has; it's like common knowledge in lots of neighborhoods.

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Hey Mike! I can just see one of your cartoons with an old fart inspector laying on the ground next to a stump with an oak branch sticking out of his head!

Info overload is a common and difficult thing to manage. The astute learned inspector must learn to manage it and work on ways to convey without gushing out all the facts. I often tell buyers to shut me up, if I get carried away - and they do! Written reports are quite different because there is no automatic indicator that tell the writer to "shut up!"

I suspect that a room full of inspectors from TIJ could ramble on for days and even months about brick or shingles. Our client only needs and wants to know if the roof leaks, abt how much time left before replacement and is it as it appears to be.

In the past, I have fired inspectors that couldn't sift the wheat from the chaff and would go on about cracked concrete sidewalks, normal settlement cracks in gypsum, etc..

It really helps to have another inspector ride along and kibitz between jobs.

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Originally posted by kurt

True, but isn't a big tree in the parkway, or a 100 year old problem sewer "visible"? I know, I'm stretching definitions, but it's so common, I think we're allowed to point out nasty old stuff and tell folks they oughta have it looked @, even if there's no visible problem.

Heck, half the folks I work for in the City have already had the problem, or know someone who has; it's like common knowledge in lots of neighborhoods.

The last few months I was doing everyday HI work, I told all my old-house customers about the hell of clogged sewers. That was because I'd just spent $4K getting the poopy water at my house to go to the treatment plant, instead of my basement.

I didn't exactly tell them to get the pipes scoped. I told them what would happen when the pipes collapsed, and explained that if I were buying an 80+year-old house, I'd sure as heck get my sewer scoped before I closed the deal.

I imagine that in Chicago, $4k won't even get the ditch dug.

WJ

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