I recently had a flood in my kitchen and had to remove the base cabinets and the drywall behind the sink. When I did I found this:

This is an open sewer line. I didn't modify this pipe in any way; I pulled off some drywall and there it was.

More specifically, this is the plumbing vent pipe from a bathroom downstairs. The builder apparently anticipated tying the sink drain into here, but didn't. So, they just put drywall over it.

A plumbing vent is easy to understand if you think about putting a straw in a drink. When you put your finger over the end of the straw and pull it out of the drink, what happens? Nothing, right? All the Coke or water or whatever stays in the straw. When you lift your finger off the end of the straw all the drink rushes back into the glass, right? This is because it is vented.

The same principle applies to your home. For the waste water to exit your home and flow into the sewer it must be vented. You can see the top of the vent pipes on the rear of your house. They are usually painted to help them blend in.

So anyway, what's the problem with having an open sewer line in your house? Well, smell! And insects, like roaches. And that explains our high need for pest control in the past!

OK, so now the disclaimer. I wouldn't have found this pipe during an inspection because I don't tear out cabinets and drywall when I inspect a house. So, why write about it here?

Because this continues to remind me that no matter how nice the house looks, no matter how big it is, no matter how much it costs, builders still make mistakes. This exposed sewer pipe has become a personal icon for me that means just that - there are mistakes in any house I inspect, and it's my job to find them IF THEY ARE VISIBLE.

I'm committed to the highest quality inspection I can deliver. It's never routine for me, even though I do it for a living. I realize that you are going to live in the house you've hired me to inspect, and I don't take your trust lightly.


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