Sewer Pipe Cameras: How They Work And Proper Uses

Sewer pipe cameras have evolved greatly over the past number of years.  It can be interesting to understand how they work, and their many benefits to property owners. Video cameras have developed into very helpful tools for many different industries, and applications. These include film making, documentaries, general security purposes, and even plumbing. Purpose-built sewer pipe cameras allow for visual inspection of underground sewer lines, and other pipes buried under a building or under the road.

In an underground environment where light is scarce, or access is an issue, the sewer pipe camera provides enough visibility to check for any variety of damages such as:

  • Cracked pipe
  • Broken pipe
  • Dislodged pipe
  • Locating a blockage
  • Accumulation of dirt or debris, and the cause
  • Back pitched pipesewer pipe cameras

The camera gives real-time video feedback to a connected monitor. This allows for a technician to determine the exact location of any problem and proper repair procedures. The videos or images can be saved to draw an image of existing sewer line installation for future reference. Modern cameras allow for easy sharing of the video online, which are now in high definition.

How Sewer Pipe Cameras Work

The simplest method to use a sewer pipe camera is to attach it to a flexible rod. A professional plumber will use a high resolution video camera on the tip of the rod and insert it into a pipe. It is ideal for a pipe with a diameter from 2-inch to 36-inch. The flexible rod allows for better maneuver inside the pipe, especially around corners, to see the condition of the pipeline. This method is nowadays considered traditional and effective only for checking damages in residential sewer pipes.

For more sophisticated sewer line, the camera is often attached to a PIG (Pipeline Inspection Gauge). It is a motorized cylindrical body that moves through a pipeline. Besides a camera, it can also bring other tools to clean debris. PIG is a more sophisticated multi-function device to perform sewer pipe maintenance both for residential or commercial pipeline constructions. The camera has lighting devices to illuminate the pipeline, typically LEDs. It is connected to an external screen by a long flexible waterproofed cable. Some high-end PIGs also have lasers to help determine the exact measurement of the pipes including diameter.sewer pipe cameras

Visual inspection inside a pipe with large diameter often uses camera tractor and service truck. The camera tractor actually goes inside the pipeline, but all the cables are-well protected so there is no rubbing against pipe surface. When the pipeline is too small for a camera tractor, the camera is attached to a semi-rigid tip of a cable, sometimes referred to as fish. More advanced devices to check for damages inside a pipe are called Inline Inspection Pigs. They are modern tools equipped with multiple sensors to record various data of the pipeline. Some devices use ultrasonic technology, while others use Magnetic Flux Leakage (MFL). Both technologies are good for measuring dents, corrosion, buckles, and other anomalies.

Unless you have large sophisticated sewer line in your house, you don’t need advanced devices to do the inspection. The conventional high-resolution underground camera is good enough to do the job, especially when you only need to see the point of blockage or what kind of damage you have in your sewer line. A sewer pipe camera cannot actually fix any damage, but it plays a major role in determining the proper repair procedure. Some of the best benefits of sewer pipe cameras are as follows.

The Accuracy Of Sewer Pipe Cameras

Video inspection by a professional plumber allows them to pinpoint not only the location of the blockage, but also the actual culprit of the blockage. If clogging occurs somewhere in the middle of the pipeline, it is ridiculous and expensive to try different types of troubleshooting methods randomly. Many plumbing tools can reach deep within a sewer pipe. But you must know the real cause of the blockage before deploying any device or commencing excavation. That is why sewer pipe cameras are frequently the ideal option.

A camera inside a pipeline records every image and feeds it to an external screen connected via cable. It also has lighting device to illuminate an otherwise very dark room. A clogging can be the result of broken pipe, root invasion, dirt or clay settlement, etc. When the real culprit is figured out, it is easy to determine the proper troubleshooting method leaving all guesswork.

An accurate inspection allows for efficient plumbing troubleshooting procedure. It is a non-destructive inspection method; there is no digging involved. The pipes and the entire construction remain intact during the process because the camera is operated remotely. With sewer pipe camera, repair only starts when the condition of the overall pipe has been thoroughly checked. There is no risk of unnecessary damages due to improper repair. It saves time, money, and efforts.

Working Safely

Sewer maintenance involves working in potentially hazardous spaces. In most cases, entry is not possible due to the limited size or diameter of the sewer access pit. Digging to expose the entire pipe across the run of the sewer line can also a waste of time, effort, and money. Even in the case of extremely large diameter pipe, with enough size to fit a person, there is a risk of toxicity from poisonous gas, waste, and chemical substance.

Sewer video cameras provide a viable, and relatively low-cost, option to avoid risks to workers and clients as well. Each and every year there are unnecessary fatalities and serious injuries to persons while drain services are being performed.

Professionally trained in proper use

The sewer pipe cameras used for sewer line inspection are specifically designed to withstand submersion in water. The cable that connects the camera to an external monitor is also waterproofed. It may sound as simple as attaching a camera to an RC toy car and controlling it from your house, but it is far from the same thing. A professional is able to operate the camera and analyze the condition of the pipe properly through a screen. An untrained user can easily misinterpret the information visible on the video. This can easily result in unneeded pipe repair work, or excavating in an incorrect location. Another important thing is that a professional has different types of cameras to work with specific sizes and types of pipes.

PIG is commonly used, but there are other types including push cameras and crawler cameras. Push cameras are for smaller pipes, typically house drains or house sewers, and they are operated manually by pushing the cable down the pipeline. If the problem is near grates or catch basin, push cameras are also good options. Crawler cameras are controlled remotely from a control station. Only a highly trained professional can consider and know which camera is right for a particular condition and application.