Unclogging drains and locating leaks is never a fun task. Couple that with the fact that most pipes disappear underground or into your walls and it may seem nearly impossible to discover what's wrong without unearthing the entire thing. Thankfully, destroying your landscape or knocking out walls isn't your only option. Drain cameras are helpful tools in examining your pipes without making a big mess.
What Does a Drain Camera Do?
A drain camera is also referred to as a pipe or sewer camera. It is a lot like a doctor's scope – the camera is attached to a stiff cord that you put into the interior of a body. The camera is used to examine potential problems that aren't visible from the outside. When working on plumbing, the camera is like an electric snake that travels down the pipe. Images are viewed on a small screen attached to the opposite end of the rod. Some things you might see with a pipe camera include:
- Source of Clogs: As the camera travels throughout the pipe, you can determine just how far a clog is from the pipe's opening. Using that knowledge, you will discover where you need to access the pipe for repairs.
- Type of Clogs: If you have kids, you know that all sorts of things can be sent down your toilets and stuffed into sinks. The camera will help you realize if the clog is something that you can eliminate with a strong cleaner or sturdy snake – such as hair and sewage – or if you need to access the pipe and remove the item – small balls or other toys, for example. If your pipes are outside, dirt and grass can easily be removed by pouring boiling water down the pipe. However, other obstructions such as tree roots and gravel need to be removed manually and could cause enough damage your pipe needs to be replaced, as well.
- Rust or Mold: Rust and mold cause all sorts of problems. Rust is a sign of deterioration and can lead to leaks, discolored drinking water, and a weakened structure. Mold is a major health hazard. Depending on the type of mold, you could experience irritated eyes and skin, develop a lung disease such as asthma or pneumonia, and cause stomach problems when ingested (through drinking water that has come in contact with mold).
- Cracks or Breaks: Cracked and broken pipes can be hazardous in a lot of ways. Depending on the type of pipe that's broken, it can cause water damage in and around your home, release toxic fumes, or allow sewage to seep into other pipes. These pipes need to be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
Where can You Get a Drain Camera?
Unless you are a professional plumber and plan on using a pipe camera regularly, you probably don't want to purchase it. Drain cameras can cost thousands of dollars. To save money, you can rent a drain camera from most tool supply stores. It is best to go into a store and talk with an employee before renting a camera instead of looking online and worrying about shipping costs and risks.
Finding the source and type of problem in your pipes and drains isn't always easy. However, using a drain camera can help you identify the problem more easily. Instead of ripping out walls and tearing up your landscape, you can use a camera to scope out the interior of your piping system and pinpoint problems. Once you know what is wrong, you'll know whether you need professional help from a company like The Drain Doctor or you can take on the task of repairs yourself.