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  • Writer's pictureDavid at Homes & Order

Why You Should Get Sewer Scans When Buying a House in Chicago

Buying a house is an exciting and often overwhelming endeavor, especially in a bustling city like Chicago. As prospective homeowners, we're often preoccupied with the aesthetics, location, and structural integrity of a property. But there's a hidden, less glamorous aspect that deserves just as much attention: the sewer system. While it might not be as enticing as granite countertops or hardwood floors, getting a sewer scan when purchasing a home in Chicago is an invaluable investment. In this blog post, we'll explore the importance of sewer scans in the Windy City.

My $5,000 Repair Bill

Let's start with a personal story. Before I became a home inspector my wife and I purchased a home in the city. It was a 1920s renovated Bungalow. After about a week of living there and things started to settle down we noticed a faint bad smell in the basement. We initially attributed it to the dogs the previous owners had. By the second week we thought maybe the carpets attached to our stairs were the culprit and had them cleaned. By the third week the smell still lingered and we had a plumber see if they can find the issue. They did a sewer scope and discovered a crack in the pipe that was the culprit. This cast iron section of pipe needed to be replaced to the tune of $5,000 and that didn't include the replacement and repair of the drywall in the finished basement. If I had gotten my sewer scoped, this could have saved an unforeseen headache.

Chicago's Aging Infrastructure

Chicago is a city known for its rich history, which extends to its underground infrastructure. Many homes in the city were built several decades ago, and their sewer systems are often outdated and prone to issues. Like mentioned in our quote on a recent Redfin article, some homes even have sewer systems over 100 years old. Over time, pipes can deteriorate, become clogged, or collapse, leading to costly repairs for unsuspecting homeowners. Cast iron and clay, which are two common sewer pipe materials found in Chicago, have a finite lifespan of about 75 years. A sewer scan can provide insight into the condition of these aging pipes, allowing you to make an informed decision when buying a property.

Uncover Hidden Problems

Unlike visible issues like a leaky roof or a cracked foundation, sewer problems are usually out of sight. Without a sewer scan, you might be oblivious to potential problems lurking beneath the surface. A sewer inspection can reveal issues such as tree root intrusion, clogs, cracks, or even missing sections of pipes, any of which could lead to costly repairs. Identifying these problems before you buy a house allows you to negotiate repairs or reconsider your purchase, saving you from unexpected financial burdens down the road.

Protect Your Investment

Investing in a home in Chicago is a substantial financial commitment. A sewer scan might seem like an added expense, but it's an investment in protecting your home and financial well-being. By uncovering any hidden sewer issues before closing the deal, you can make more informed decisions about your purchase. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate with the seller to address any problems, ensuring you're getting the best possible value for your investment.

Peace of Mind

Knowing that your prospective home's sewer system is in good shape provides peace of mind. You can move into your new home with confidence, knowing that you've taken all necessary precautions to protect your investment. No one wants to deal with sewer-related problems shortly after moving into their dream home, so a sewer scan offers the peace of mind that you won't be facing such issues in the near future.


When buying a house in Chicago, it's crucial to consider every aspect of the property, even the less glamorous ones like the sewer system. Investing in a sewer scan can save you from unexpected financial burdens, protect your investment, and ensure your new home complies with local regulations. It's a small price to pay for the peace of mind and confidence that you're making a sound decision. So, before you sign on the dotted line, make sure to include a sewer scan in your list of must-do inspections. Your future self will thank you for it.


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