“Inspect what you expect.” HomeLife Warranty Protection founder Nicole Roehl offers these and other words of wisdom for potential homebuyers before making what could be the biggest purchasing mistake of their lives.
Q: We appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today.
HomeLife Warranty Protection: It’s no problem, we are happy to share any information you may need.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most common mistake new homebuyers make?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: Not getting a mainline plumbing and drain inspection with a home inspection.
Q: What is a mainline inspection?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: The mainline is the main plumbing line that carries waste and water from the property to the sewer system.
Q: Why is it important to have it inspected before buying a home?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: There are a number of things that can go wrong with the drain lines and mainline that may not be visible during a standard property inspection. If any underground problems exist, a home inspector will not find it. The last thing you want is to have your sewage backed up in your shower drain, toilets, and sinks right after the home is purchased.
Q: That doesn’t sound good…
HomeLife Warranty Protection: It’s not. In addition to being an unpleasant cleaning experience, sewage can cause damage to the inside of your home.
Q: What does a mainline inspection look for?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: Broken and corroded pipes, blockages, bellied pipes, and roots attacking the line.
Q: And none of this can be found during a home inspection?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: Probably not. Most home inspectors do not have the proper equipment and training to perform this service. In addition, the ASHI Standards of Practice, ‘Purpose and Scope’ says, “The inspector shall: A. inspect readily accessible, visually observable, installed systems and components listed in this Standard.” Underground and unseen piping within the home does not fall within the ASHI standard.
Q: What kind of equipment?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: The mainline requires a special camera and light that can be lowered into the pipe and moved around. The captured images are viewable on a screen, allowing the plumbing professional to alert the potential homeowner to any issues, while providing recorded video evidence for the Buyer and, if needed, to the Seller.
Q: Are plumbing repairs expensive?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: Yes, they can be, especially the mainline. The inspection usually only costs a few hundred dollars while digging up the line can cost $10,000 or more.
Q: Who would be responsible for paying for that if it was not discovered during a home inspection?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: Once the papers are signed, this becomes the buyer’s responsibility. After all, if the home inspector couldn’t tell anything was wrong, it is reasonable to assume the seller had no idea either. Many times however, mainline issues and symptoms are previously present and not disclosed up front. All the more reason, to get this inspected before you purchase a home, because proving that the sellers did not disclose the issue will be very difficult.
Q: Do homeowner’s insurance policies cover mainline repair?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: It is possible that homeowner insurance will cover home damages, demo, and repairs resulting from the first backup. However, a second backup will probably not be covered. If the mainline is broken outside the foundation of the home and no damage to the home will exist, then the homeowner insurance will not cover the expense, generally.
Q: Should the purchase contract be canceled if issues are discovered?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: It’s a good idea to make the purchase contingent upon successful mainline and whole house drain inspection.
Q: Are there chemicals that can clear a drain?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: The mainline isn’t like an interior drain. When you’re looking at blockages here, you’re not looking at just hair and grease. Major blockages may need manual clearing or could require the use of a waterjet. Some companies offer to chemically clean sewage lines if major odor problems exist, but for blockages nothing works like physical force.
Q: What kind of items can block the mainline?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: We have seen everything from glass bottles to washcloths, baby toys, and dead animals. Roots, however, are perhaps the biggest problem and the most difficult to rectify. And with broken pipes, roots go right to the moisture and start creating havoc.
Q: How is root damage repaired?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: It is often necessary to dig up at least a portion of the pipe and replace the damaged section.
Q: Are there any other systems or appliances that should be inspected before purchasing a home?
HomeLife Warranty Protection: Generally, home inspectors perform a visual examination of the HVAC system that is limited to the minimum ASHI Standards of Practice. It is a good idea to have this checked out since it can be one of the more expensive repairs a homeowner will face.
Q: That’s great advice. Thank you.
HomeLife Warranty Protection: You are very welcome.