If you have had any sewer line problems, you may already know that sewer cameras are used to diagnose modern sewer line problems. Any well equipped professional plumber will have a sewer camera system to look inside the pipe to locate where it is and look for signs of damage. For this reason, it’s a good idea that homeowners know how this process works so that they can better understand what’s happening if they need a sewer line inspection in the future. Let’s take a closer look at how a sewer camera inspection works in practice.
What is a Sewer Line Camera?
This is a flexible cable that can be fed into a drain or through a sewer pipe until it reaches a clog or some other type of obstruction. There is a tiny fiber optic camera and a light fitted on the end that’s fed into the line. The camera is connected to a monitor via a radio transmitter that also relays the physical location of the camera and how far below the surface it is. So, when a blockage is encountered, the plumber will know the location and the camera feed will relay vital information on how to fix the problem.
Why Use a Sewer Line Camera?
Anyone that can remember back a few decades before sewer line cameras can attest to how disruptive a sewer line repair could be. In the past, a plumber would have to use their experience and a good amount of guess work to find the source of the problem. This could involve digging multiple holes in the yard to find the clog or sewer pipe damage. A sewer line camera makes the whole process more accurate; this can reduce the level of disruption and make the process faster. A sewer line repair or a pipe replacement can be a large task, and anything that makes the process easier should be welcomed.
4 Common Sewer Problems a Camera Inspection Can Detect
A thorough sewer line camera inspection carried out by a professional licensed plumber can detect almost any sewer line problem. But, there are four common sewer line problems that we will detail here.
- Tree Root Infiltration
If you’ve noticed a very healthy looking patch of grass in your yard or the ground is muddy you may have a tree root infiltration. This is very common in homes that use older sewer lines made from materials, such as cast iron, clay, or any other porous materials. The roots of trees in your yard are always looking for a new source of water as they grow. If you have even a tiny crack in your sewer line, the tree root can follow it and tap into the line to get at the water. Over time, the root will actually grow into the sewer line forcing it wider and eventually cracking it wide open to get at the water.
- Major Blockages
The sewer line may be in a perfect state, but people have abused the pipes by flushing the wrong materials, and this can create a major blockage. Some typical examples of the wrong things to drain away or flush include kitchen paper, egg shells, coffee grounds, various types of grease and oils and a wide variety of other items. The only material that should be flushed is toilet paper and human waste. Any other items should go in the trash to avoid blocking your sewer lines.
- Cracked, Broken or Collapsed Pipes
As the sewer line camera is fed into the line, it will stop when it runs into a cracked, broken or collapsed pipe. The camera will instantly show the plumber what has stopped the passage of the camera, and this will help to locate the problem. There may be other problems past this first one, and that will need to be addressed later.
- A Sagging or Bellined Line
If the sewer line has sagged or belled the camera may still be able to enter that section of pipe. When a sewer line sags down the waste that you flush away collects in the dropped section, and this can lead to persistent and reoccurring blockages.
Sewer Line Repair and Replacement Options
Once the plumber has finished the camera inspection, they will know the cause of your blockage or backup issues. Broadly speaking, there are two options available to fix the sewer line problems; they are: traditional and trenchless. The sewer line repair and replacement option that would suit you best will depend on your own particular circumstances. Let’s take a closer look at both of these options in more detail.
A Traditional Repair and Replacement
If the camera inspection has shown that the sewer line is bellied, sagging, or collapsed, the only repair option is the traditional method. This will involve your plumbing company digging a trench to locate the sewer line and repair or replace the affected section of pipe. Sadly, the traditional method can damage other parts of your property, such as driveways, landscaping, and walkways. This unavoidable and this is often the best option in certain cases.
A Trenchless Repair and Replacement
If you’re lucky, your sewer line can be repaired or replaced by using the trenchless method. This is a far less invasive method that causes far less disruption and potential for damage compared to the traditional method. The plumbing company will create small access points where they can get down to the damaged section of pipe. A cable is then fed into the pipe and pulled through along the original path of the sewer line. This pulls the replacement into position and makes a more invasive repair unnecessary. Sadly, the trenchless method isn’t possible all the time, but if you can fix the line using this method, you can count your lucky stars.
If you’re concerned about the sewer line in your home contact a local licensed plumber
for expert help and advice. An experienced technician will be able to carry out a camera inspection and find any problems that need attention.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.