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What Does a Sewer System Camera Inspection Entail?

When you notice you have a sewer line problem and you will need sewer repair service from your local plumbing company, the first thing you will want to do is schedule a sewer system camera inspection. This is a low-cost solution to finding out exactly where in the sewer line the problem is located.

In the past, before this latest technological advance, you would have to run pipe snakes down drain lines and sewer lines and hope the problem was resolved. For major blockages and broken sewer lines, you would have had to dig a huge trench in the yard for full access to the entire sewer line to fix the problem.


The Sewer System Camera Inspection Basics

A sewer system camera inspection is where your plumber uses a waterproof camera system to find the location of sewer line problems. The camera is connected to a long cable. The cable is then connected to a video display unit.

The camera and cable are slowly pushed down the drain line or sewer line. The plumber watches on the monitor to determine if there is a problem. The plumber can use the camera to inspect drain lines from the shower, bathtub, sinks, and toilets.

Checking clogged toilet pipe with inspection camera.

When a problem is discovered, the plumber relies on the transmitter inside the camera. The transmitter lets your plumber know where the camera is located inside the sewer or drain line. This makes finding the location of problems easier and much faster than traditional methods.

Your plumber can also inspect the main sewer line—the large sewer pipe—that runs under the home and is connected to the city sewer line or your septic tank sewer line. In addition, they can open the overflow sewer pipe cap to access the sewer lines in your yard.


What Is a Sewer System Camera Inspection Used For?

A sewer system camera inspection is used to help identify and locate sewer line problems. Having an inspection performed will let your plumber know exactly where the problem is in the sewer and drain pipes.

Some of the more common reasons homeowners will schedule a camera inspection of their sewer lines could include:

  • Water drains slowly down the sink, tub, or shower drains.
  • There is a gurgling sound coming from the toilet or other drains in the home when water is off.
  • There is raw sewage coming up the drain lines into the home.
  • Water does not drain down one or more drains in the home.
  • Flushing the toilet causes water to come back up sinks, tubs, or showers.
  • Running water in the tub, shower, or sinks in the home results in water coming up in the toilet.
  • There are strange and foul smells coming from tub, shower, and sink drains.
  • Your yard is constantly wet even when it is dry outside.

Another reason people will get a sewer camera inspection is when they are getting ready to sell their house or buy a new home. An inspection before listing the home will let potential buyers know the status of the home’s drain and sewer lines. Plus, if there are any problems, you can have your local plumbing company fix them before buyers look at your home.

For home buyers, getting a sewer camera inspection is frequently overlooked. You are already paying to have other inspections performed in the home you want to buy. It just makes sense to also have your plumber do an inspection to ensure there are no sewer line problems before you close on the home.


What Can a Sewer System Camera Inspection Identify?

plumber sits next to the kitchen sink on the floor and looks at the tablet for repair instructions

A sewer drain and system camera inspection can help identify just about any type of sewer line problem. Some of the more common ones include:

  1. Finds and pinpoints the location of sewer and drain line leaks. Sometimes a leak can develop in the sewer and drain lines that run inside the walls of your home. Pinpointing the exact location of the leak will mean minimal removal of drywall to access the drain lines.
  2. Locates blockages inside the drain and sewer lines. Over time, hair, soap scum, and other things we put down our drain and sewer lines can get stuck and create a blockage. The camera helps find where the blockage is located so it can be fully removed.
  3. Helps determine the condition of your drain and sewer lines. A camera inspection lets you know how much “gunk” has accumulated on the inside of the plumbing lines. Depending on the extent of “gunk,” you can decide if you want your plumber to do a drain and sewer cleaning service to remove the buildup.
  4. Identifies bulging and sagging drain and sewer lines. Sometimes certain types of drain and sewer pipes can bulge and expand or contract and sag. Both types of problems can cause repeated sewer line problems.
  5. Helps find collapsed, damaged, and broken sewer lines. The sewer lines in your yard can collapse, break, and get damaged from tree roots, accidentally hitting the lines when digging, and other such things. A camera inspection determines where in the line the problem is located so your entire yard does not have to be dug up.


How Is a Sewer System Camera Inspection Performed?

Your local plumber will set up the camera inspection equipment in the location where you are experiencing the sewer line problem. They will push the pipe down the drain line until they find the location of the problem. Once the problem is located, they use the transmitter inside the camera to determine exactly where it is located inside the home.

Next, they mark the location where they need access. If they need to remove drywall, they will ask you to move furniture and other things out of the way first. Then they cover the floor and other nearby items before cutting into and removing the drywall.

If the entire home is affected, then your plumber will start in one area of the home and inspect each of the branching lines that connect to the main sewer line under the home. It is not uncommon for there to be multiple sewer and drain line problems if the sewer and drain lines have never been cleaned.

If none of the branches have any problems, then your plumber inspects the main sewer line. If the problem still has not been located, the final part of the inspection is to run the camera down the exterior sewer lines.

plumber using a sewer camera for inspections


Can’t I Just Do a “DIY” Sewer System Camera Inspection?

While there are “DIY” plumbing cameras you can find at your local home improvement and repair stores, they are not of the same quality as the one used by your local plumbing company. The cameras sold at retailers only allow you to view a few feet inside the drain and sewer lines.

Not to mention, most do not have infrared, auto-brightness adjustment, and auto-focusing to give you a clear picture of what is going on. To get the high-quality system your plumber uses, you can easily spend around $20,000.

This is why it is more cost-effective to just have your plumber perform the inspection for you. You are more than welcome to watch the camera feed on the video display while your plumber conducts the inspection.

If you have noticed a sewer line problem or are getting ready to buy or sell a home, you cannot go wrong with a detailed sewer system camera inspection. If you live in the Austin Metro, San Antonio, Temple, or New Braunfels and surrounding areas, please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing to schedule a comprehensive sewer drain line camera inspection for your home.

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