Providing Plumbing Solutions Since 1986

What Is A Drain Camera Inspection?

Frequently Asked Questions

A cable fitted with a mini camera and light is funneled down your drain. The camera transmits an image of the inside of the pipes to a monitor. The problem can typically be easily diagnosed without having to dig up your yard, most of the time, or put holes in your floor or walls to find the problem. The video camera can be recorded and a copy can be given to you for your records on request. A drain has to be cleared before a camera can be sent through the pipe.

How do I know if my plumbing needs a camera inspection?

If your drain is plugged, or if several drains are plugged, or if there is an odour, it could mean a problem beyond your fixture.

How do I know if my drain is plugged?

If your toilet won’t flush or if it bubbles, there is a blockage or partial blockage. Also, watch for bubbling when a sink or bathtub is drained. As all drains lead to the main drain, which leads to the sewer system, it could indicate there is a blockage anywhere in the pipe system.

A person pointing at a screen that is looking in the plumbing pipes.

Why do I need a camera in my drains?

To detect where the blockage is in the pipe and what is causing the blockage. A camera will reveal what is happening and where the blockage is located.

What causes a blockage in my drain pipes?

It could be roots that grow into the drain, a piece of a broken pipe that has been crushed by backfill, or a flat point in the drain pipe. Other causes can range from disposing of fats that harden in the drain to flushing items such as dental floss, wipes, toys from a child or dog, coffee grounds, and more.

A camera won’t be able to ‘see’ until the drain is cleared and there is no water in it. As a result, a plumbing ‘snake’ is put through the drain first, if needed. The process of snaking the drain pipe could clear the blockage at the same time, but it won’t tell you where it was blocked, why it became blocked, or where it is located. Unless all these factors are known, and the cause is corrected, the blockage will likely reoccur.

What is a plumbing snake?

It’s a long, flexible metal cable that can range in length from 10 to 100 feet or more. At the end of it is a coil, called an auger, that can break up the blockage and push the debris through the pipe until it flows freely with the rest of the wastewater. Similar to the action of a corkscrew, it
can also pull the blockage out. A plumbing auger or snake can range in size to fit different drain pipes and sizes. They can be operated by hand or powered by electricity.

What does a plumbing camera do?

The camera is specially designed to fit in a three-inch (or greater) drain pipe, main wastewater drain, or sewer system. It is attached to a long, flexible cable. The camera has a live video feed that can send pictures of its journey back to a monitor, where it can be viewed by the plumber.

It can also be recorded onto a USB stick for the homeowner at their request, and Plumbtech Plumbing makes a copy in case of reoccurrence.

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Is this a common problem?

Plumbtech Plumbing receives numerous calls for a drain camera and has several cameras in a range of sizes and cable lengths that plumbers can use.

Why do people call for a plumbing camera?

A blocked drain pipe is the most common reason. The most common cause is roots growing into the main drain or sewage pipe outside the house. The roots could be from trees such as willow that are allowed to grow. Even though a tree has been cut down, the roots will continue to grow for another 10 years. The roots seek the drain pipe in search of water. Other outdoor issues could be a piece of a broken pipe or a flat point in the drain pipe. It can also be used for maintenance as a preventative measure.

Why does my drain pipe break?

Pieces of pipe from a broken drain pipe that has been crushed could be discovered in the main drain or sewer line. Crushed stones, roots, and other debris could be found in the exterior drain pipe from when it was originally installed and backfilled. Rocks or backfill could have crushed the drain pipe.

Why does a flat spot occur in a drain pipe?

It could date back to when the pipe was installed and backfilled. Sometimes it is found under the footings as the pipe leaves the building.
There could be issues with the drain if there is not enough fall in the pipe. The drain pipe needs to slope downhill from the source. A flat spot can become a collection point for any debris going through the drain. It can create a clog that won’t flow away with the wastewater.

Why would my plumbing have separation issues?

A drain pipe could separate for a variety of reasons. It could break or be crushed under the weight of the ground, particularly if the drain pipe is installed under the footings. The footings of a house or cottage may shift and cause the drain pipe to separate or change levels. The type of pipe used may also cause it to flatten. This is especially true of tar pipes.

What is a tar pipe?

Tar pipes, also known as a No Corode or Orangeburg, were commonly used in the late 1940s through the 1950s. Made of tar paper and pressed wood, the pipes were used as a low-cost alternative to metal sewer pipes. While they were designed to last several decades, some didn’t even last 10 years.

How do I know if I have a tar pipe?

A camera inspection of the main drain could detect this pipe. If your home was built in the late 1940s to 1950s, you may have sewer pipes made of tar paper and wood. A sewer camera inspection may be a good idea to identify a tar pipe before it becomes an issue.

What should I do if I’m having an issue with drains?

Call Plumbtech Plumbing. Check every drain to see if there is a blockage on more than one fixture or if all the drains in the house are impacted. This also applies if the wastewater is slow to drain, makes noises such as gurgling, gulps, or smells like sewage.

Don’t run any water on any drain that is blocked. Your initial investigation will help to point out where the obstruction is located. For instance, if all drains are affected; it could mean an obstruction in the main drain line inside the house or outside the house leading to the municipal sewer line or septic system.

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