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Old 12-11-2010, 08:39 AM   #1
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Shoring and Video plumbing inspection. Is it worth it?


I bought a home 15 months ago. The house is 28 years old and was in pretty bad shape, but for the price we just couldn't refuse. The house also had been shored but the seller showed us a lifetime guarantee on the foundation so we didn't think this would be an issue. Due to it being an older home we decided to pay to have the house inspected from all angles and this included a video plumbing inspection.

The guy came out and ran his camera from the sewage main at the street. He never even made it into the house before finding a break. He then ran his camera from a clean out on the right side of my home. He ran it all the way under the house and to the front yard where he found the same break I referred to early except from the other side. He wrote up a simple diagram gave us a video and told us we only had that one break. The break was a simple fix for a DIY guy like myself. We moved in and 6 months pass and we begin to have an awful oder in the house coming from the right side bathrooms. We tried everything to get rid of the smell with no success. I decided to dig up along that side of the house where the clean out was and there it was a broken vent going up through the chain wall near the master bath. The very vent the plumbing inspector ran his camera through. I dug out around it and the smell went away.

I contact the plumbing inspector and he told me he couldn't believe he missed that break but he was not responsible. I contacted the people who did the shoring and they told me they were not responsible for plumbing problems after the shoring was done. The shoring was done in early 2008 but the house had not been lived in for a year of so, so the problem had not been discovered.

Best estimate I found was 3K. We put it off for 6 months, because after all it was only a vent. Finally we had the funds to hire a plumber and he digs out a 15 ft tunnel to get under. Once he is under the house he ends up finding 8 breaks. I crawled in there with him and basically every vertical pipe was broken. I was floored to say the least. My wife almost had a panic attack. The plumber told me he has never seen so many breaks on one house. He also tells me he has no idea how the shoring people passed inspection after the shoring was done. The plumber had to replace everything and this time it was done with hangers. I was lucky to find such a fantastic plumber. He only charged me 3500 for everything. They could have ran up a bill if they wanted too.

Has anyone had any similar experiences? I am also worried there may be other issues that are hidden under my house. Do you think this is cause from the shoring? Also why isn't that video inspector liable for the repair?

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Old 12-11-2010, 09:59 AM   #2
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Shoring and Video plumbing inspection. Is it worth it?


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Also why isn't that video inspector liable for the repair?
Why would a "video inspector" be liable for repair? His camera didn't break the pipe. Likewise, if you had a home inspection done and the home inspector had found problems; or for that matter hadn't found problems, (i.e. mold, radon, leaks, roofing problems, leaky faucets, etc.) He wouldn't be responsible for the repairs.

It sounds as though you paid for a sewer lateral inspection. Which determines the condition and/or structural integrity of the sewer lateral. Not vertical vents. Also if he ran a camera through an outside cleanout as you mentioned, he would never see a vent.

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Old 12-11-2010, 10:21 AM   #3
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Shoring and Video plumbing inspection. Is it worth it?


I don't recall any mention of lateral inspection. It was suppose to be the entire plumbing system. It wasn't cheap, i know that. OK, so I paid for a lateral inspection and he only found one break. There were 2 more lateral breaks that had to be repaired. I hired an inspector to make sure something like this didn't happen. So are you saying I just waisted my money on the video inspection because they rarely are reliable? Why aren't these inspectors insured to back up what they say? My termite exterminator is.

See picture of all the broken pipes they pulled from under my house. You would think he would of caught a few of these. He ran so much water down the line in the video there is no way he could of seen anything.
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Old 12-11-2010, 10:49 AM   #4
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Shoring and Video plumbing inspection. Is it worth it?


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I don't recall any mention of lateral inspection. It was suppose to be the entire plumbing system. It wasn't cheap, i know that. OK, so I paid for a lateral inspection and he only found one break. There were 2 more lateral breaks that had to be repaired. I hired an inspector to make sure something like this didn't happen. So are you saying I just waisted my money on the video inspection because they rarely are reliable? Why aren't these inspectors insured to back up what they say? My termite exterminator is.

I didn't say that at all. Sewer lateral video inspections can potentially save you thousands of dollars if executed properly. I'm not sure what you paid for, or what the inspector promised you. All you mentioned was that he ran a camera from the street to the house, and from a cleanout near the house to the street. Initially you never mentioned that this was supposed to be an entire "video plumbing inspection". Were you present while the inspection was being performed? Was this the home inspector that offered the video plumbing inspection?
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:20 AM   #5
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Shoring and Video plumbing inspection. Is it worth it?


I thought it was a full inspection but I don't have anything that says it was or wasn't a full inspection on my paperwork. We were under the impression it was a full inspection. My wife was at home when he did the inspection. She said it took about 45 minutes. I guess we were just happy he only found that one break because we really wanted the house and we had already planned to not buy the house if it had anymore plumbing problems. We hired this guy on our own not through the inspector.

Is it normal to just run the camera down the main line only? Also why did he put so much water down the pipes during inspection? You couldn't see anything at times. He also ran that camera 1 ft per second on the video at times so it was so fast you really had no time to see anything. I tried to freeze the frames but it gets all distorted when you do that. Also, can see up the vertical piping at all when that camera is in the lateral piping?
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Old 12-11-2010, 01:32 PM   #6
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Shoring and Video plumbing inspection. Is it worth it?


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Originally Posted by Geaux4Tigers View Post
I thought it was a full inspection but I don't have anything that says it was or wasn't a full inspection on my paperwork. We were under the impression it was a full inspection. My wife was at home when he did the inspection. She said it took about 45 minutes. I guess we were just happy he only found that one break because we really wanted the house and we had already planned to not buy the house if it had anymore plumbing problems. We hired this guy on our own not through the inspector.

Is it normal to just run the camera down the main line only? Also why did he put so much water down the pipes during inspection? You couldn't see anything at times. He also ran that camera 1 ft per second on the video at times so it was so fast you really had no time to see anything. I tried to freeze the frames but it gets all distorted when you do that. Also, can see up the vertical piping at all when that camera is in the lateral piping?
As far as my business goes, I only run the camera down the sewer or septic lateral. From the house to the street, or house to the septic tank. I try to run the camera at a speed that anyone could follow. If there's a noticeable problem, I slow down or stop to get a clear picture of the problem area. You can clearly see tie-ins, or additional cleanouts, but the camera is in a fixed position and does not have a wide enough peripheral field of view to see "up" the vertical piping. A video inspection of an entire DWV system would require far more time than 45 minutes as well as additional equipment. Vent stacks typically have few problems that would be detectable with a video camera. A smoke test would be the only way to really determine if there are leaks or cracks in a ventilation system. The camera I deploy is specifically designed for 3"+ pipe. Most vent stacks and interior drains are 1 1/2" - 2" pipe, and again would require different equipment for video inspection. Additionally, to video inspect every last bit of drain and vent footage throughout a home would also require pulling toilets, p-traps, getting on the roof, etc. Assuming someone had the proper equipment and knowledge to do that, it would take probably most of a day to do properly.

The sewer lateral is typically the most expensive repair if problems are found (typically several thousand dollars). I don't do the repairs or replacement, but have the experience and knowledge to give someone a clear understanding of what they may be subjected to, or maintenance issues that may come up. This basically gives someone additional room for negotiation in purchase price, the leverage to ask for repair or credit prior to closing, or the ability to make a more educated buying decision.

Most times, I don't run water at all during the inspection unless there is a problem with sludge buildup in the pipe that gunks up the camera lens. Just a little water or flushing a toilet can help determine if there are parts that are flat or negative. If there is a belly (low spot) in the line, there will always be water standing in that spot, sometimes completely submerging and blinding the camera until you come out of the belly.

If he drew up a simple diagram it sounds as though he took the time to digitally locate the break or problem area in the sewer lateral. Did he reference, measurements by triangulation, paint, or flag the spot? How deep is it? As far as DIY goes; it could be a simple fix with a shovel and a few bucks in parts, or may require excavation with a backhoe depending on the location and depth.
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Old 12-11-2010, 01:41 PM   #7
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Shoring and Video plumbing inspection. Is it worth it?


Here's an example of a typical sewer lateral video inspection. This one however, is a bit faster than usual because it was performed for a city engineer that is well versed on what to look for. He was looking specifically for I&I (Inflow & Infiltration) from ground water. For a the layman I would have slowed the camera down considerably.
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Old 12-11-2010, 05:05 PM   #8
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Shoring and Video plumbing inspection. Is it worth it?


Thanks for the info. The first break he found I already repaired. I had to chip into the chain wall replace a clean out and about 6 ft of pipe about 3 ft down. It was pretty easy but stressful. I let the pros do the tunneling though. That was a 4 man one day job in itself to dig that tunnel. I am just pretty disappointed in how bad the plumbing is and how none of it was detected by the camera guy. I had to repair just about all the drain pipes for two of my downstairs bathrooms. The plumber i have now is going to fully inspect all the other pipes to make sure I don't have anymore issues.

FYI, That video you sent was about how fast the guy ran his camera whenever I had my inspection except it was full of running water at places.

Have you ever done an inspection on a house that was shored and what was the outcome? I have heard that they always break pipes.
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Old 12-11-2010, 05:17 PM   #9
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Shoring and Video plumbing inspection. Is it worth it?


You indicate that the house was "shored". Shoring refers to installing structural elements to maintain a house in position. Jacking refers to raising a house to correct settlement, or occasionally to elevate the house above the flood plain.

If your house was jacked, I can certainly understand how vertical pipes could be broken, which certainly is an anticipatable event that should have been monitored by the jacking company. If the house was simply shored, the breaks could have occurred before the shoring operation. Without very specific documentation about exactly what the foundation company did, it is not possible to determine when the pipe breaks occurred.
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:11 AM   #10
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The house had a differential and was leveled twice. The last time was a warranty repair and it was done back in August, 2008. I have a signed document from a structural engineer stating the work was done and compliant with industry standards. Whenever leveling is done do they not inspect piping as well?
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:20 AM   #11
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Have you ever done an inspection on a house that was shored and what was the outcome? I have heard that they always break pipes.
I don't believe so. In fact, I don't think shoring is very common in this area. I'm not familiar with the process at all.
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Old 12-12-2010, 10:02 AM   #12
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I don't believe so. In fact, I don't think shoring is very common in this area. I'm not familiar with the process at all.

It is very common in this area. I live in South Louisiana.
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Old 12-12-2010, 10:06 AM   #13
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It is very common in this area. I live in South Louisiana.
Ah I can see how that may be more common in that area with the amount of moisture and types of soil... swampy.
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Old 12-12-2010, 10:40 AM   #14
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Shoring and Video plumbing inspection. Is it worth it?


sorry I can't upload a file larger than 100kb. The first pic is the picture of a broken T that is inside the chain wall. The arrow points up to indicate that is a vent through the chain wall. To the outside of the house on that T is a clean out and to the inside is my master bath connections. That is lateral piping. That clean out is where the video inspector ran his camera.

The second picture is a broken Y also lateral piping. The arrow indicates the flow of water and i have a note that states it is coming from master sinks.

The 3rd picture shows that same Y but just with the crack they found not completely broken off yet. That was done by the plumbers. Also a note to the left in the pictures indicates the flow of water down from master sinks and the note to the right indicates downward flow from the master toilet.

The 4th pictures with the two breaks are both vertical piping. The one closest to the photographer with pea trap is from master bathtub and it is connected to vent pipe. Another broken pile that we found after the pictues were taken ties into that same vent and goes off to the left of the photo to my hallway bath. The joint farthest away from the photographer is the hallway toilet. The plumber had already started the repair of that joint. Again, the arrows indicates the flow of water.
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:14 AM   #15
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Any way you can enlarge the pics? They're difficult to see and can't read what you've written.

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