This week we were called to a home in Hillhurst, in NW Calgary. This home is on the market and the potential buyers are looking to buy it as a ‘fixer-upper’ home, to invest some money and live in it shortly, and then ultimately to sell it as a profit. The potential home buyers called us for a video sewer line inspection because this particular house has a LOT of ways that their sewage lines can cost them a lot of money down the road.
Built in 1911, this centennial home is a very unique property that has retained many of the original features, including the original furnace. It has the original cast iron pipes that transition into ABS pipe (that part of the sewer line was updated in 2002), and then the ABS pipe transitions again into a vitrified clay pipe (VCP). Clay sewer pipes are durable and long lasting, often lasting 50-60 years, but they will eventually break. Ground shifts, tree roots, and many other factors can lead to clay sewer pipes breaking, collapsing, coming apart at the joint, and otherwise becoming compromised. In the 1980’s the City of Calgary, as well as most municipalities, stopped using clay sewer pipes and moved to using PVC pipes as they have a longer life and are less susceptible to line breaks.
The City of Calgary has been replacing the vitrified clay pipes in Calgary communities but you can still find it in older communities, such as Hillhurst. As a home owner, you are often responsible for the pipes on your property and having a full sewer line inspection pre-purchase is recommended. In this case, our video sewer line inspection showed that the clay sewer pipe was in very poor condition with severely offset and separated joints every two feet with lots of roots growing into the pipes. The sewer pipes also had a lot of debris building up and eventually, I ran into a large obstruction from a buildup of roots and debris that I couldn’t pass with the sewer scope.
Because water and sewer line replacements for this home will be considered rehabilitation/redevelopment, the City of Calgary requests a certified sewer inspection report be done and submitted with development permit applications. As NASSCO Certified Inspectors we are certified to provide these reports. Our report has helped these potential home owners be aware of the damage to the sewer lines for this Calgary property, to know the likely cost of repairing them, and to have the certified documentation to present to the City of Calgary to request a development permit. All in all, we’ve likely saved this couple thousands of dollars and months of headaches during their home rehabilitation project.
If you’re thinking of purchasing a home, especially one older than 1980, call us for a sewer line inspection to see if they are vitrified clay pipes and to ensure that those pipes have not been compromised.