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Sewer Line Inspection

Many home buyers are familiar with and understand the importance of a home inspection.  But what about a Sewer Line Inspection?  It’s almost an afterthought, if a thought at all.  Its always best to find out if a sewer line needs repair or replacement before buying a home, not after.

The purpose of a sewer line inspection is to determine the condition of the lines and if the system is functioning as intended.  A sewer line inspection is recommended for any home more than 20 years old.  While this may seem fairly new compared to a home built in the 1950s, 20 years is plenty of time for roots to completely block a line.  Sewer inspection is highly recommended for homes on a property with large or mature trees regardless of the age.

What can you expect to find during a sewer inspection? 

We hope you find a pristine, structurally sound, clear flowing line.  However, that is not always the case.  Camera inspections pinpoint problems like these:

  • Broken, cracked or collapsed pipe — damaged pipes requiring repair or replacement
  • Offset pipe — sewer pipes have become misaligned due to shifting soil, frozen ground, settling, etc.
  • Blockage — grease buildup or a foreign object is restricting or prohibiting proper flow and/or cleaning of the line
  • Corrosion — the pipe has deteriorated and/or broken, causing sections to collapse and restrict water flow.
  • Bellied pipe — a section of the pipe has sunk due to ground or soil conditions, creating a valley that collects paper and waste.
  • Leaking joints — the seals between pipes have broken, allowing water to escape into the area surrounding the pipe.
  • Root infiltration — tree or shrub roots have invaded the sewer line, preventing normal cleaning and/or roots have damaged the pipe.
  • Off-grade pipe — existing pipes are constructed of substandard or outdated material that may have deteriorated or corroded.

How is a sewer scope conducted?

A video camera on the end of a long cable is fed into a clean-out, through the sewer line and sends images back to a monitor and recorded for later viewing.  A stream of water from the house may be run through the pipes to make it easier to move the camera, but it is not necessary.  This process takes up to 90 minutes and can be scheduled at the same time as your home inspection.  A written summary and video footage will be provided to you at the completion of the inspection.

Looking for more information or have questions about your specific property?  Contact our office at (877) HIP-3200 and speak with one of our staff or schedule your inspection today!

What is a Septic System?

A Septic System is an underground private sewage disposal system. It is the best method of disposal in areas where community sewage disposal facilities (Sanitary Sewers) are not available and where soil drainage is acceptable.
A Septic System usually consists of two parts:

  1. Septic Tank – a water tight (concrete) container that receives untreated household waste. Solids are retained here.
  2. Tile Field – a series of perforated pipes which distribute the liquid from the septic tank to the surrounding ground below soil.

 

How Does a Septic System Work?  

Waste material from the house enters the septic tank slowly so that solids and greases can:

  • Settle to the bottom and form a sludge layer.
  • Raise to the top and form a scum layer.

In between the slugde and scum layers is a layer of liquid waste, known as effluent.

When waste enters the tank, bacteria being to break down the solid materials.  This process is called decomposition.  As a result of decomposition, solids are reduced, leaving a residue behind in the tank.  As time passes, the remaining residue builds up and must be removed via pumping to prevent it from entering the tile field and clogging the system.

The center liquid layer flows slowly from the tank into the tiled field.  Pipes in the tile field are perforated.  This allows the liquid to be distributed equally in specially prepared gravel filled trenches.  Once the liquid reaches the trenches, it soaks into the soil.  The soil then acts as the final filter in the treatment of liquid waste received by the septic system.

System Diagram

System Diagram

Side Note: Basement Waterproofing – Inside Strategies

In previous posts we’ve covered a few exterior options to protect your basement.  Now let’s review what options you have inside!  By installing a drainage system around the inside of the basement along the wall, you can capture water at the most common point of entry – the floor/wall joint.  Capturing water from the walls can prevent the center of the floor from leaking by intercepting the water at the perimeter.

There are advantages to an interior drainage system.

  1. Accessibility
  2. Affordability
  3. Quick Installation
  4. Serviceable
  5. IT WORKS!

Even in basements that are already finished, it is still much easier to waterproof from the inside than the outside.  Most Full-Time basement waterproofing companies offer interior drainage systems – – – each with their differences. Watch for our next Side Note where we cover the different interior waterproofing options.

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Outer Limits

By now we’ve learned that there are two types of basements – the ones that already leak and the ones that will eventually leak.  If the soil around the foundation of your home is pitched toward the foundation, it is a good idea to change the grade by adding dirt so that the soil slopes away.  Do not use sand or mulch which may absorb and hold water rather than water flowing away.  Don’t rely on grading alone to protect your foundation and keep your basement dry.

Try to keep any added dirt or additional landscaping 4″ below any siding.  If the siding is close or touching the soils it may rot, creating a new set of issues.  Proper grading as well as the proper use of gutters and downspouts will be a great help to your overall dry basement project.  Don’t rely on clean gutters alone to keep your basement dry.

Join us for more basement waterproofing facts as we continue our Side Note Series on Basements!

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Dry Basement

Buyers expect a dry basement.  No one wants to buy a home with a wet basement.  These days most states have disclosure forms that would require the seller to details a series of questions about the property…one of which is water in the basement.  Home inspectors are trained to find this sort of defect during a standard inspection.  A keen eyewall-floor-joint-basement-water1 for moisture problems can save you time and money.

There’s simply no way to hide a wet basement.  Buyers will often view a wet basement as a “Fixer-Upper” and lower their offer…sometimes up to 10%.  On a $150,000 house, that’s $15,000!  The moral of the story – – Fixing your wet basement is a lot cheaper than not fixing it.

Stay tuned for more information on basement waterproofing!

 

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Basement Space

Build-a-Basement-DesignEven though it may not be counted in the actual square footage of your home, your basement is VALUABLE space!  What can you do with your basement?  How about a Playroom for the kids, a Party Room or Family Room?  A home gym to keep you fit and healthy, or maybe a craft room for your creative side?  All of this and more could be possible.

You’re not going to finish your basement you say?  Even an unfinished basement is valuable space.  All the “stuff” that you would normally put into a dry, unfinished basement is now taking up finished space.  It’s crammed into the closets, the spare room, and the garage.  Taking some simple steps to drying and waterproofing your basement, you can move all that “stuff” downstairs and reclaim your finished space.

Keep up with our new series Side Note for more great basement information.

 

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Radon Gas & Waterproofing

Radon Gas is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from radium deposits in the earth’s crust.  If present in the soil under your home, it can get sucked into your house via the basement or crawl space.

DON’T PANIC!  It’s fairly common and easy to get rid of.

Some people that know “a little”, think that basement waterproofing systems and radon mitigation systems are incompatible.  While it is true that gaps, cracks and hols in the basement floor and walls need to be sealed as part of the strategy to get rid of Radon, this can be done without compromising the waterproofing system.

 

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Radon Risks

The Risk of Living With Radon

Scientists are more certain about radon risks than from most other cancer-causing substances.

Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer. And the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years.

Like other environmental pollutants, there is some uncertainty about the magnitude of radon health risks. However, we know more about radon risks than risks from most other cancer-causing substances. This is because estimates of radon risks are based on studies of cancer in humans.

Smoking combined with radon is an especially serious health risk. Stop smoking and lower your radon level to reduce your lung cancer risk.

Children have been reported to have greater risk than adults of certain types of cancer from radiation, but there are currently no conclusive data on whether children are at greater risk than adults from radon.

Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:

  • How much radon is in your home
  • The amount of time you spend in your home
  • Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked

Radon Risk If You Smoke

Radon Level

If 1,000 people who smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime*…

The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to**…

WHAT TO DO: Stop smoking and…

20 pCi/L

About 260 people could get lung cancer 250 times the risk of drowning Fix your home

10 pCi/L

About 150 people could get lung cancer

200 times the risk of dying in a home fire

Fix your home

8 pCi/L

About 120 people could get lung cancer

30 times the risk of dying in a fall

Fix your home

4 pCi/L

About 62 people could get lung cancer

5 times the risk of dying in a car crash

Fix your home

2 pCi/L About 32 people could get lung cancer 6 times the risk of dying from poison

Consider fixing between

 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L

1.3 pCi/L

About 20 people could get lung cancer

(Average indoor radon level) (Reducing radon levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult.)
0.4 pCi/L

About 3 people could get lung cancer

(Average outdoor radon level)

Note:   If you are a former smoker, your risk may be lower. * Lifetime risk of lung cancer deaths from EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003). ** Comparison data calculated using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 1999-2001 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Reports.

Radon Risk If You’ve Never Smoked

Radon Level

If 1,000 people who NEVER smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime*…

The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to**…

WHAT TO DO:

20 pCi/L

About 36 people could get lung cancer

35 times the risk of drowning

Fix your home

10 pCi/L

About 18 people could get lung cancer

20 times the risk of dying in a home fire

Fix your home

8 pCi/L

About 15 people could get lung cancer

4 times the risk of dying in a fall

Fix your home

4 pCi/L

About 7 people could get lung cancer

5 times the risk of dying in a car crash

Fix your home

2 pCi/L

About 4 people could get lung cancer

6 times the risk of dying from poison

Consider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L

1.3 pCi/L

About 2 people could get lung cancer

(Average indoor radon level)

(Reducing radon levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult.)

0.4 pCi/L

(Average outdoor radon level)

Note:   If you are a former smoker, your risk may be higher. * Lifetime risk of lung   cancer deaths from EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA   402-R-03-003). ** Comparison data calculated using the Centers for Disease   Control and Prevention’s 1999-2001 National Center for Injury Prevention and   Control Reports.

 

It’s never too late to reduce your risk of lung cancer.

Don’t wait to test and fix a radon problem.

If you are a smoker, stop smoking.

Radon – Myths and Facts

Radon Myths

MYTH: Scientists aren’t sure radon really is a problem.

FACT: Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all the major health organizations (like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association) agree with estimates that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year. This is especially true among smokers, since the risk to smokers is much greater than to non-smokers.

MYTH: Radon testing is difficult, time consuming and expensive.

FACT: Radon testing is easy. You can test your home yourself or hire a qualified radon test company. Either approach takes only a small amount of time and effort.  Home Inspection Professionals provides Radon testing services and complete reporting and only takes a few minutes to set the testing system which is retreived by one of our professionals in approximately 48 hours.  Results are provided within 24 hours of test completion.

MYTH: Homes with radon problems can’t be fixed.

FACT: There are simple solutions to radon problems in homes. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners have already fixed radon problems in their homes. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs; check with one or more qualified mitigators.

MYTH: Radon affects only certain kinds of homes.

FACT: House construction can affect radon levels. However, radon can be a problem in homes of all types: old homes, new homes, drafty homes, insulated homes, homes with basements, homes without basements. Local geology, construction materials, and how the home was built are among the factors that can affect radon levels in homes.

MYTH: Radon is only a problem in certain parts of the country.

FACT: High radon levels have been found in every state. Radon problems do vary from area to area, but the only way to know your radon level is to test.

MYTH: A neighbor’s test result is a good indication of whether your home has a problem.

FACT: It’s not. Radon levels can vary greatly from home to home. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it.

MYTH: Everyone should test their water for radon.

FACT: Although radon gets into some homes through water, it is important to first test the air in the home for radon. If your water comes from a public water supply that uses ground water, call your water supplier. If high radon levels are found and the home has a private well, Home Inspection Professionals can also provide testing for your water supply.

MYTH: It’s difficult to sell homes where radon problems have been discovered.

FACT: Where radon problems have been fixed, home sales have not been blocked or frustrated. The added protection is some times a good selling point.

MYTH: I’ve lived in my home for so long, it doesn’t make sense to take action now.

FACT: You will reduce your risk of lung cancer when you reduce radon levels, even if you’ve lived with a radon problem for a long time.

MYTH: Short-term tests can’t be used for making a decision about whether to fix your home.

FACT: A short-term test, followed by a second short-term test can be used to decide whether to fix your home. However, the closer the average of your two short-term tests is to 4 pCi/L, the less certain you can be about whether your year-round average is above or below that level. Keep in mind that radon levels below 4 pCi/L still pose some risk. Radon levels can be reduced in most homes to 2 pCi/L or below.

* If the radon test is part of a real estate transaction, the result of two short-term tests can be used in deciding whether to mitigate. For more information, see EPA’s “Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon“.

Need more information or assistance?  Visit http://www.epa.gov/radon/states/michigan.html for more resources and contacts.

Radon Facts

Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas.

You can’t see radon. And you can’t smell it or taste it. But it may be a problem in your home.

Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths each year. That’s because when you breathe air containing radon, you can get lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

Radon can be found all over the U.S.

Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon can be found all over the U.S. It can get into any type of building — homes, offices, and schools — and result in a high indoor radon level. But you and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home, where you spend most of your time.

You should test for radon.

Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. EPA also recommends testing in schools.

Testing is inexpensive and easy — it should only take a few minutes of your time. Millions of Americans have already tested their homes for radon (see Radon Testing).

You can fix a radon problem.

Radon reduction systems work and they are not too costly. Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99%. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.

New homes can be built with radon-resistant features.

Radon-resistant construction techniques can be effective in preventing radon entry. When installed properly and completely, these simple and inexpensive techniques can help reduce indoor radon levels in homes. In addition, installing them at the time of construction makes it easier and less expensive to reduce radon levels further if these passive techniques don’t reduce radon levels to below 4 pCi/L. Every new home should be tested after occupancy, even if it was built radon-resistant. If radon levels are still in excess of 4 pCi/L, the passive system should be activated by having a qualified mitigator install a vent fan. For more explanation of radon resistant construction techniques, refer to EPA publication, Building Radon Out: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Build Radon-Resistant Homes (PDF) (84 pp., 5.5 M).