Many times, people take their plumbing for granted. They assume it’ll always work until it doesn’t. Unfortunately, when water stops moving due to clogged pipes, you may have a problem with the main sewer line. A drain camera could confirm whether or not a problem actually exists.
Exactly What is a Drain Camera?
It is a camera with a video lens at the end of a durable cable that works as an “eyeball.” A drain camera can be used on any drain that is more than 2 inches in diameter, but it will also work in a drain that is only an inch and a half in diameter. They are made by companies like The Drain Camera Shop, who spend months perfecting these drain cameras.
Although a drain camera can detect many problems, it is somewhat limited. For instance, if the drain has a large amount of dirty water, it can’t see everything in the pipe. Usually, when a pipe has clean water, this isn’t a problem. This is why many plumbers don’t want you to run additional water before they can inspect the drain. This gives dirt a chance to settle, which makes it easier to perform a pipe camera inspection.
What is the Purpose of a Pipe Camera Inspection?
The purpose is to open the drain. Plumbers then run a snake to make sure that the camera can move through the drain with ease. Then they gently put the pipe camera in the drain. This is the best way to tell what is blocking the drain.
The following are some of the main things plumbers come across during a pipe camera inspection:
1. Offsets in the joints between pipes.
The average sewer line consists of numerous connected pipes. As time goes by, the ground beneath your home shifts and settles, which makes pipes move away in various directions. This leads to broken joints, which makes a ridge that can trap dirt and cause clogs.
2. Tree roots in the pipes.
Up close, this looks like a network of noodles within the pipes. When a pipe breaks, nutrient-rich water leaks and comes into contact with thirsty tree roots. This helps to make the average tree root much stronger because it soaks up leaking moisture. Unfortunately, tree roots get into broken pipes and grow even stronger. When this happens, plumbers must remove anywhere from one to four feet of tree roots from pipes. Sometimes tree roots can grow and end up back in the house because of broken pipes.
3. Crushed or bent pipes.
This happens because there isn’t enough support beneath pipes during construction. Or there is a lot of ground compression above pipes. This is especially when the homeowner has done a lot of landscaping above the pipes. Plumbers know this is the specific cause when the camera comes into contact with water and it gets clearer as the camera moves through the pipe. This means water is sitting in a lower section of the pipe.
4. Interior corroded pipes.
Many older homes built in the 20s and 30s still have cast iron sewer lines. These lines corrode through the years, and pits or flakes develop due to metal. This traps plenty of dirt and other debris.
The Pipe Camera Inspection is Over: What Happens Now?
Now that the diagnosis is done, what happens next? Plumbers will recommend a solution based upon the severity of the diagnosis. They can usually tell if the same thing will happen in the future, even if they get rid of the clog.
Pipe Joint Offset
Many times, water continues to flow well if the offset isn’t too bad. If the ground has shifted too much and there is a huge drain clog, plumbers will recommend one of the following two things:
1. Line the pipe.
This will basically put another pipe inside of the pipe. The diameter won’t be as thick, but it will be repaired so that nothing gets trapped again. This is a good choice if you have a lot of expensive landscaping above the drain, and you don’t want to mess up the landscaping or the pipe.
2. Replace the pipe.
If the pipe has two joint offsets, this is the best choice. With the right preparation, this process only takes about a day to handle.
Usually, there isn’t much of a pricing difference for pipelining or pipe replacement. But then again, this depends on the severity of each diagnosis and whether or not the pipe is easy to access.
Plumbers can remove tree roots from pipes; however, this is only a temporary fix if a large tree caused this problem. The same pipe problem arises within about one to two years. If you don’t want this outcome, the tree has to be removed.
Sewer Line Problems: Prevention is Possible
When dealing with sewer lines, consider the following things:
Determine the age of the sewer line. This includes both the actual sewer line and the home’s interior system. If the line is older than 30 years old, the chance of incurring problems is high. However, some homeowners have sewer lines that are much older, and they haven’t experienced any problems.
Through the years, plumbing materials have improved, but construction methods haven’t. Many of them have deteriorated. What does this mean? Newer homes have different sewer line problems than older homes.
For instance, the homes built in the 1960s were created with a deep bed of sand below the sewer line as a way to hinder offsets. But newer homes are created with lines with just a small amount of gravel. But new drain pipes are built with newer plastic materials that don’t corrode as much. This means that they are less likely to get clogged due to inside debris.
During your house search, determine how many trees are around your sewer line. Do this even if the trees are still long. You need to know how large they’ll be at maturity.
If you’re considering new landscaping, think about the following things. Keep in mind that all new trees will grow to maturity. Make sure there is enough space between the trees and your sewer line so that they will never come into contact with one another once the trees grow to maturity.
Want to add a rock garden to your landscaping design? Good choice, but don’t put it over the main sewer line.
However, before you begin any landscaping project, get a pipe camera inspection done. If your home has older pipes, or if you’ve experienced plumbing problems in the past, consider replacing them before investing in a huge landscaping project.
Make sure the pipe has a well-packed bed if you’re replacing a ground pipe. This is the best way to ensure that the water flows smoothly.
Once the main sewer line is replaced, let the ground settle for at least three to four years before initiating a landscaping project.