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Whether you have a suspected leak in your home’s drain or simply want to check the condition of your pipes, a new tool may help you make more informed and effective plumbing decisions, while saving you time, money, and aggravation. Here’s a look at why video pipe inspection may be a wise choice for your next appointment with the plumber.

What Is Video Pipe Inspection?

Video Pipe Inspection

A video pipe inspection (also known as a pipeline video inspection) is precisely what it sounds like. It’s a bit like an endoscopy or colonoscopy for your plumbing.

A waterproof camera is inserted into a pipe or drain to offer images of the interior of the plumbing works. The camera may be mounted on a rod, cable, or hose and is moved along the pipe by a small motor. It sends images back to the operator, usually via closed-circuit TV on a truck, so a plumber can do maintenance checks or see what is causing a problem.

Because the camera is self-righting, the images it sends back can be interpreted in a straightforward way. The video footage can be viewed live and a recording can be made for later use as well. There are LED lights attached to the camera apparatus, and in some cases, lasers to precisely measure the pipe’s diameter ( which is important to see if it narrows or to fit it for a liner). A transmitter can also send a signal to the surface if digging must be done so the exact spot can be marked without guesswork or damage to your sidewalk or garden.

What Kinds of Problems Does Video Pipe Inspection Detect?

Video pipe inspection has a broad range of uses. It can be used for routine plumbing checks, in addition to looking for collapsed, broken, or cracked pipes. The camera will be able to show if there are any broken seals or connectors too.

Cracked Pipe

It can also detect clogs, such as from grease and household waste or from intrusions, like tree roots–a common problem when large trees grow near pipes. It can help a plumber determine whether a pipe is in good working order or if it needs replacing. The level of detail afforded by the video inspection can also tell you if placing a new lining within an existing pipe is feasible, which is often an easier and less expensive solution.

This type of plumbing inspection works very well for domestic plumbing because it can be used in spaces as small as a few inches. It is also commonly employed to view storm drains, sewer lines, and drain pipes up to several feet in diameter. The cable can extend hundreds of feet and handily navigate turns and bends in the pipes.

What Are the Benefits of Video Pipe Inspection?

Video pipe inspection offers a number of benefits to you as a property owner or small contractor. Using a camera to view your plumbing eliminates guesswork when it comes to making repairs or replacements. There’s no digging up your cement, flooring, foundation, or garden to see what’s going on. Likewise, you won’t have to put holes in any walls to expose pipes simply to diagnose a problem or check the integrity of your plumbing.

Video pipe inspection also saves time. In some cases, the inspection can be done in as little as one hour. You’ll know right away what the situation entails so you can make an informed decision without wasting time trying plumbing solutions that don’t ultimately work.

Of course, saving time with a plumber also saves you money.

Saving Money

You can reserve your budget for any fixes that need doing rather than expensive digging and probing. The video inspection lets you pinpoint both the exact nature and location of any problem, and it can also give you peace of mind knowing that everything looks okay or only a minor repair is necessary.

You always save money when you nip small problems in the bud rather than letting them become big, pricey ones that may not be covered by insurance. A video pipe inspection can be part of smart, preventive home or business maintenance since it allows you to detect small breaches in your plumbing before they are even symptomatic or visible elsewhere in the system.

Who Might Want a Video Pipe Inspection Right Away?

Because of its wide scope of use, a video pipe inspection might be right for you in any number of circumstances. Here are some situations where you may want to put it to use:

  • You recently purchased an older home (although even new homes can have plumbing problems if cheap drain materials were used/reused or there are large plantings in the yard).
  • A home you are considering purchasing is in the inspection stage (very few inspectors do this without you requesting it–don’t assume your inspector has done a video pipe inspection).
  • You are selling your home and want to give buyers added security about the plumbing system.
  • You want to check plumbing that has been out of use for a while, such as with a seasonal vacation home.
  • You own rental properties and wish to avoid the legal and insurance issues that accompany burst pipes and water damage.
  • You have had previous plumbing problems.
  • You see signs of previous water damage in your home (such as water lines on the basement walls).
Water Damaged House

  • You suspect a prior plumbing issue was not adequately repaired (you may be able to seek financial reparation).
  • You are aware of a plumbing concern, such as excess cooking grease being put down the drain or water seeping into the subflooring.
  • You notice cracks or dampness around your foundation, at the base of walls, in the bathroom floor, or around fixtures.
  • Your slab or basement floor shows cracks or buckling.
  • You notice soil in the yard moving, such as mounding in a new area.
  • You see water pooling in the yard even if it hasn’t rained.
  • You smell sewage in your home or in your yard.
  • There are large trees or known tree roots near your plumbing system, especially your exit drains.
  • There are burrowing animals in your yard.
  • You have seen animals, like raccoons, in your storm drains, or you notice heavy sediment or leaves running off into the storm system.
  • You have backups in your drainage or sewer system (back into the toilet, the bathtub, or basement drain).
  • Your water bill is excessively high, indicating a possible leak in a non-pressurized pipe (hard to detect).
  • A piece of jewelry or other valuable item has accidentally fallen down the drain.
  • During normal cleaning or trying to clear a clog, you encounter an impediment.
  • You fear a pipe might have collapsed due to excess weight on the ground above it (from heavy machinery doing work in the yard or a snow plow operating near the house, for example).
  • You do remodeling, especially on historic or older homes.
  • Your property is undergoing a remodel that will place an increased load on the drain or sewage system.
  • Your area has recently experienced a natural disaster, like an earthquake, that may have disturbed pipes or drains on your property.
  • You are getting a new property owner’s insurance policy.

What Else Should You Know About Video Pipe Inspection?

If you live in an older home, have had any plumbing problems, or meet the criteria above, you may want to set up an annual video pipe inspection, just like cleaning your gutters or checking your chimney. A pipe that looked good last year may have become clogged by roots or waste in the last 12 months, and it’s better to catch it right away. You can use footage from the previous year’s inspection for comparison so you know if there are any small changes that could indicate potential trouble.

Video pipe inspection can be used to double check results too, after a plumbing repair has been made. You’ll be confident everything looks good so you don’t have to worry about future problems.

While video pipe inspection is a relatively simple procedure, it’s not a DIY project and should always be undertaken by a professional plumber. You may see video pipe inspection rental units, but these are cheap models that do not provide high-quality images. Plumbers who do video inspections have invested in equipment that costs $10,000 or more to get the best results and handle the trickiest situations.

A professional plumber who does video pipe inspections has been trained in the technique to perform the inspection safely and not cause any damage. They can interpret the results for you so you know where to go from there.

If you think a video pipe inspection might be right for you, contact San Diego Pipelining for more information. We can set up a routine plumbing check for you, assist with a pre-purchase inspection, or diagnose and address a situation that needs repair.

Don’t let a small problem morph into a plumbing disaster. With video pipe inspection, you’ll know exactly what needs fixing so you can make the most informed and effective decision for your unique plumbing needs.