Sewer inspectors are responsible for determining the condition of sewer systems in a city or town to ensure they are working properly, are up to code, and are free from obstructions. This person must often physically enter the sewer system in order to do a thorough inspection, though in some cases, sewer inspectors can do a thorough inspection using cameras that can be routed into the piping. The job can be quite dirty and often dangerous, and the worker often needs little more than a high school education and some job-specific training.
The condition of the sewer system is the primary concern of sewer inspectors, who must find out if an obstruction exists, if pipes are rotting or otherwise clogging, or if contaminants have worked their way into the water system. A common problem with sewer lines is the growth of tree roots through pipes, which can cause back-ups and other health issues. Sewer inspectors will often use cameras sent down through drain pipes or other parts of the sewer system to identify such problems and determine the best course of action for remedying the issue.
In larger cities, the sewer system can be large and elaborate, and the condition of the individual components within the system can vary significantly. Many cities have systems that were built decades or even centuries ago, so sewer inspectors must regularly visit different parts of the system to ensure all components are working properly. These sewer inspectors may need to walk through the sewers, or even crawl on all fours in extremely tight areas, to make an in-person inspection of a certain area. The inspectors must wear safety equipment both to protect them from raw sewage and to ensure they do not get lost, fall into hidden sewer lines, or get swept away in sometimes strong water currents.
Sometimes sewer inspectors are hired by private companies to cater to homeowners or people considering purchasing a home. These employees can visit a home for sale and do an inspection of the plumbing and sewer systems. In many cases, plumbing companies can perform such inspections, though they will often charge a fair amount for the service. A homeowner will want this inspection done, especially on older homes, before purchasing to ensure they will not have to pay for expensive repairs after the home purchase. Some older homes, for example, are fitted with tar paper pipes that can degrade after time; an inspector will be able to find out if the home has such pipes and can recommend replacing them.