Do you want to know ALL clues to problems discovered through the course of a home inspection?

  A replacement cleanout cap indicates there has likely been a sewer blockage or tree roots in the sewer line in the past.  If your home inspector finds a replacement cap on cleanout of the sewer line should this be reported even if there are no obvious ongoing sewer problems?

  • February 27 2013 - Lincoln
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Answers (6)

Also to add (in our area) most if not all cast interior sewer pipes run
into an number of short little 2ft. clay pipes outside.

Most of those guys give out after 60-70 yrs and just crush all over and
fill with dirt.

So anyone having a older home  that is that old and has cast inside
could expect (if it hasn't been done already) that it is just a matter of
time you will have to dig them up and replace with schedule 40.
-Joseph-
  • October 24 2013
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Hey Matt

So that is a concrete wall and the cap has been installed on the waste
stack behind the wall.
Thought I was looking at some sort of concrete tank and that was just
a plug in the system.
Got it now that you explained...I agree it does indicate something
happened somewhere along the way.
Thanks.
-Joseph-
  • October 24 2013
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All homes should be fitted with a cleanout in the sewer system.  Except in old cast iron applications, the cleanout cap is made out of the same material as the plumbing, which in new homes is usually PVC.  The photo shows a replacement cap installed on an old waste stack (the stack itself is concealed behind a wall).  Usually caps are only replaced if there has been a problem related to blockage with the sewer system.  These blockages usually occur underground between the house and municipal sewer systems and are most often caused by either: 1) tree roots; 2) pipes that don't flow properly due to improper slope (sometimes faulty installation, sometimes soil settlement) which allows debris to collect, swell and create obstructions, or; 3) pipes that have corroded, collapsed or shifted, restricting water flow.

As per Joanne's response, it's on the money:  I advise a buyer if the cleanout cap appears to have been removed or replaced, or if there are other signs of sewer problems, such as a sticker or writing on the sewer pipe relating to the system being cleaned out.  I asked the question because others have told me I should only comment if I can observe specific problems, and not comment on "clues" to problems.  Thanks for the input!  Matt
  • October 24 2013
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Trying to understand this.... In the systems I have seen
(ones that have cleanouts ) they are newly installed with a cap just like
the one you have pictured.
So educate me why this is different . What is it suppose to look like?
besides the chipped concrete.
-Joseph-
  • October 24 2013
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Profile picture for joanne.mccoy
In Lincoln, in older neighborhoods, it's quite common for older sewer lines to be broken from tree roots. The new cap would be a hint. But there are companies that can a camera down the line to detect current or potential issues. It's money well-spent, especially in an older home with mature trees. As for disclosing any problems, the seller is only responsible for disclosing problems that occurred during the time they owned the home.
  • October 23 2013
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Profile picture for Neeraj Jassal
That's a really good question, Brian.

My inspector notes the following:

1.  Material defect
2.  Safety issue
3.  Maintenance item

As he moves around the property, he will call attention to what he sees and will identify the issue as one of the three above.

Further, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania advises that an appliance or structural item that is functioning is not considered a material defect.  Based on that line of thinking, the picture you posted would not be considered a material defect.  It would basically be considered and abandoned drain.
  • February 28 2013
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