Sewer camera inspections are a great way of identifying problems in a home sewer system so they can be fixed before they cause serious damage. Before you call for an inspection, however, it might help you to know what these cameras can help your plumber see.
How the sewer camera works
Sewer camera inspection services can see directly into your pipes. They do this using a long, flexible metal cable equipped with a fiber optic camera at one end. This camera is about the size as the one on your smartphone.
The camera is controlled remotely with small motors in the attached cable. These motors move the camera in and out and allow it to focus. A monitor allows the plumbing technician to see everything that the camera sees. This way you won’t need to dig up the pipes to see where problems might be.
What the sewer camera can do
This powerful tool allows plumbers to see a lot of your system without digging up your yard or taking walls or floors apart.
The camera itself sends out a locator signal, which your plumbing technician can track. This means the plumber can insert the camera at one end of the pipe, push it along the pipe, and then go out into your yard and see precisely where your sewer line runs under the ground.
Many people are not sure what type of pipe they have. Some homes have cast iron pipes while others have PVC. Unless your sewer system was recently installed, chances are you have no way of knowing. The type of pipe you have may affect which type of fix you use to deal with leaks, and the sewer camera can tell your plumber just what they will have to deal with.
Find clogs and blockages
Sewer pipes always run downhill. This means anything that gets inside the pipe that shouldn’t be there will also drift down the pipe until it gets clogged up. It is also common for tree roots to grow through sewer pipes and create blockages.
The difficulty is in finding exactly where these problems have developed along the pipe. No one wants to dig up the whole yard to identify one small part of a pipe, so a sewer camera inspection allows your plumber to pin down the source of the problem quickly.
Trace the connections
Several important pipe connections are running through your underground sewer system. Using a sewer inspection camera, your plumber can identify all the twists and turns, connections, and T-junctions that wind under your yard.
What the sewer camera cannot find
The sewer camera has limits to what it can do. Many homeowners assume that a sewer camera will be able to find any leak in the line. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
The camera may be able to identify some cracks, but it may also show a false positive or miss a leak. Because the leaking water occurs outside the pipe while the sewer camera looks at the inside, it can be difficult to find an issue, especially if it is small.
Another factor that makes it hard to find leaks with a camera is the buildup of soap scum, calcium deposits, grease, and waste of all kinds along the pipe. It can be very hard to identify a small crack in all that mess, and it is not uncommon for something to look like a crack on the monitor and turn out to be nothing.
If you are getting ready to buy a home or suspect that your existing sewer line has a problem, a camera inspection could be the best way to identify where your line runs, what might be causing a blockage, and where all the connections are.