Sewer Line Video Inspections

Sewer camera inspections let you (and most importantly your plumber) know exactly what’s causing a nasty backup or leak so that it can be fixed in the fastest, most thorough, and most economical manner possible.  A highly-specialized sewer video camera is sent down inside the length of pipe until it reaches whatever’s causing your problem.  A sewer video inspection is also usually performed after sewer cleaning or repairs to assess the results and evaluate the general condition of your main sewer line.

How They Work

You’re probably used to today’s surprisingly good yet inexpensive smart phone cameras.  But sewer line video inspection cameras are something different altogether.  Fitting inside pipes as small as 2 inches in diameter (or as large as 36 inches) is no problem with modern technology.  But sewer video camera inspection gear has to be a lot more than just small and waterproof.  They have to have a system for forcing the camera down the line then pulling it back out with complete reliability.  That includes the ability to maneuver around corners throughout the full length of the line, as much as 300 feet.

All that quickly adds up… to some $15,000 per sewer camera.  But the latest technologies and features make them great work horses.  They’re now full-color and high-resolution with powerful lights.  Many are self-righting so the bottom of the picture is always down, and many have a location beacon radio transmitter.  Pretty much all now have convenient recording capabilities along with their real-time video.

How They Help

The property owner is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the sewer lateral between the building and the city sewage system.  Being buried, that means a video sewer line inspection to determine the nature and exact location of blockages and leaks as well as the general condition of the line prior to any sewer line repair.  Sewer video inspections can also be part of a preventive maintenance program as a wise move before a home or business property purchase.

Why is it so important to see what’s down there?  Video sewer line inspections let plumbers view which of many potential troubles have actually occurred.

  • Blockages
    • grease and sludge buildup
    • tree roots
    • foreign objects
  • Damage
    • misaligned or separated joints
    • punctures and cracks
    • broken or collapsed sections
  • Other Issues
    • bellying (sags and dips)
    • inadequate slope (“off-grade”)
    • corrosion

Sewer camera inspections indicate which sewer repair options are viable, including the different types of trenchless sewer line replacement technologies.  There’s no guess work on pipe condition, what needs to be done, and where any digging would have to take place.  Hydro jetting won’t damage pipes unless they’re already in poor condition, but a preliminary inspection avoids surprises and an inconveniently timed sewer line repair.

And believe it or not, they’ve been used to find lost valuables such as jewelry and even animals.

Details, Always Details

Push rods and other movement mechanisms can’t handle sharp bends, so access needs to be through a clean-out fitting.  If one isn’t accessible, it may be necessary for the plumber to install one first.  Additionally, with a complete blockage it’s difficult to see much through murky water.  So the pros will re-inspect after cabling or water jetting.  Finally, looking at the sewer line video yourself you might not notice much.  It takes a well-trained plumber to understand everything that comes in to view.

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