What is the purpose of camera inspections?

April 20th, 2020

Sewer cameras are important tools that assist plumbers to visually inspect the insides of your main sewer line and pipes. Camera inspections allow plumbers to find problems, diagnose and identify what it would take to resolve your drain issues. By getting a true picture of what’s going on in your pipes, homeowners can have confidence in the health of their plumbing system instead of taking a stab in the dark and hoping for the best.  

How does a sewer camera inspection work? 

Using a highly specialized waterproof camera mounted on the end of a flexible cable, plumbers can watch real-time as the apparatus is snaked through your sewage system pipes and drain pipes. These pipes are otherwise impossible to inspect without highly invasive measures such as excavation, cutting into walls and breaking open pipes because they are underground, encased in concrete, located behind walls, or deep beneath the foundation of your home. The results are recorded and interpreted by the plumber who can then recommend a course of action to take to remedy the problem. 

Why should a camera inspection be performed? 

A camera inspection is the least invasive way to inspect the condition of your sewer lines and provides accurate, thorough, and real-time insights about the health of your pipes. It is virtually the only way that you can get an inside look at the pipes which connect your sewer system to your municipal sewer lines running beneath your house and across your property.  

It’s important to properly evaluate the condition of your sewer and quickly locate any anomalies and underlying problems before relatively minor issues grow into bigger problems that might mean more costly and invasive techniques as part of the solution. A camera inspection allows just that. 

When should a sewer be inspected with a camera? 

Generally, our clients call on us to perform an inspection of their sewer lines with our professional and specialized sewer camera equipment for one of these three reasons: 

  1. For property inspections when buying/selling a home 
  1. Planning a remodel, major renovation or landscaping project 
  1. Experiencing sewer issues 

Let’s take a look at these three situations. 

1. Sewer camera inspections when buying/selling a home 

Camera inspections of sewer lines are an important part of a thorough house inspection, especially in older houses. It’s the only way to take the guesswork out of what condition the pipes are in, and to determine what they’re constructed of so that all parties are aware of potential risks and future expenses. 

Houses that are more than 20 years old and/or had the original sewer system installed prior to the existence of municipal sewer lines in the neighbourhood may still contain a “cesspool”. These old basins pose a high risk for leakage and should be inspected prior to finalizing a sale.  

Houses built in the 1940-50’s often used Orangeburg or tar paper pipes that should also be replaced; thus affecting the conditions/price of sale. Similarly, galvanized pipes used in days gone by pose a health risk due to lead poisoning and should also be replaced.  

Tip: when scheduling a sewer camera inspection you’ll need to juggle the schedules of several parties: plumber, buyer, realtor, seller. Don’t leave the coordination to the last minute. 

2. Sewer inspections for landscaping, renovations and remodels 

Sewer cameras are able to pinpoint exactly where your sewer and drainage lines run in your home and beneath your property, and can therefore arm your contractor with accurate information about where it’s safe to dig or not. Accidentally severing a sewer line is NOT an issue any homeowner wants to deal with. Trust us! 

3.Using a camera inspection to diagnose sewer issues 

Our team uses camera inspections to further diagnose the root cause for these and other common sewer/water problems in homes: 

  • Sewer back ups 
  • Toilets that don’t flush or plunge, or that overflow 
  • Bubbling toilet bowls when flushed or sink/tub is draining 
  • Fouls smelling drains 
  • Gas odours 
  • Slow draining or stagnant water 
  • A myriad of other issues that your plumber can guide you through 

Any of these signs warrant a closer inspection to determine the cause and location of the problem. The sooner the cause is found, the quicker a repair can be made.  

Is DIY camera inspection of a sewer a good idea? 

If you can rig up powerful lights to your waterproof camera on the end of a flexible tube and make sure it will self level so that your image is always upright and easy to interpret, knock yourself out!  

Oh, and make sure the transmitter that you choose can tell you exactly where the camera is as it snakes through the labyrinth of pipes and effectively sends the signal above ground where you can interpret it and plan your repairs in the exact location required.  

(In short, we suggest leaving this exploration for the professionals!) 

Who to call for a sewer camera inspection? 

Have a professional use the right equipment, training and knowledge to inspect your sewer. Don’t hesitate to book an appointment for a camera inspection of your plumbing installations and make sure that all plumbing codes and best practices are respected on your current or future property. Reach out to the experts at Plomberie Richard et fils with your questions and ask for a free quote. 


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