What can you expect with a sewer inspection?
You’ve heard that an inspection is useful, and you decide to call a trusted technician to come by to your house. What can you expect with an inspection?
What is a Sewer Pipe Inspection and when do I need one?
A sewer pipe inspection is simply when a drainpipe or sewer pipe is investigated for damage, problems, or weaknesses. Generally, a technician will use a special camera, sometimes called a “snake”, to investigate a problematic pipe.
You should schedule an inspection any time you have repeat problems. Constant slow drains, lots of gurgling from sinks or bathroom drains, & repeat instances of flooding are good reasons to look inside the troublesome pipes. Slow drains and gurgling can be evidence of serious problems, such as rotting pipes and blockages.
During a sewer pipe inspection, your technician is going to find the problematic drainpipe flowing out of your house or building and use a camera to check if there are problems. Some technicians might be confidant they already know what the problem is, & they might try to convince you to skip the inspection, going right to the repair. Do not do this. Before any major pipe repairs are done, you should have a camera inspection. It’s a small price to pay up-front that could save you thousands of dollars down the line.
What should happen during an inspection?
Technicians will find a way to access the pipe with a camera “snake”, which is a long cord with a camera on the end. The technician will then push the camera down the pipe, inspecting the walls and finding possible problems. This camera is also recording everything in video format, so that everything can be reviewed later.
The best inspection will use a color (NOT black-and-white) camera, that keeps itself level, so the video isn’t spinning out of control. After the inspection is done, technicians should give customers a copy of the video from the inspection. That way, you can see for yourself what the problems look like.
An inspection is relatively simple. If you have a pipe access point (called a ‘cleanout’), your technician can use it to access the pipe. If there is no easy pipe access point, the technician can also use a sink point or even toilet point as an entry into pipes. If the bathroom is used as an entry, then the inspection will involve a quick un-installing of the toilet, then re-installing after the inspection. If the inspection is in a house, they usually never take more than an hour to complete. They will take longer if it is in an office building, apartment building, or any building requiring more than one pipe be inspected.
How do I know I got a good inspection?
If your technician tells you your pipe is broken, make sure they explain exactly what is wrong. Is the pipe damaged? Is it blocked? If they can’t clearly explain what is wrong, you should get a second opinion. The technician should be able to give you a clear, crisp understanding of everything that is going on in your pipe. They should go over the video with you and explain what you are seeing.
If your pipe is damaged, get your technician to explain how deep the pipe is, and what repair options are available to you. Again, if the technician can’t explain what the problem is, or if they start pressuring you to pay for more inspections or repairs without good explanations, get another technician for a second opinion.
What are some common problems I’d expect to find?
There are several problems that you could expect. One common one is tree root invasions. Trees spread their roots to sources of water, and if some micro-tendrils find their way into a pipe, the tree will start growing roots into your pipe, leading to holes and cracks.
Another problem could be buildup of debris. Many things go down pipes; sometimes, buildups prevent a clear flow out of the pipe. This is another reason they tell you to never flush things like wet wipes or feminine hygiene products down the toilet; they can come back to cause many problems if they build up.
Another problem could be an old pipe simply falling apart. Depending on the age of your house, your pipes could be rusting & disintegrating. If this is the case, you will need to seriously consider repairing or even replacing your pipes. These problems often plague homes that were built in the 1970’s, or earlier.
Whatever is going on with your drains & pipes, an inspection should be the first step forward. Regardless of the problem, your inspection should help you understand exactly what is going on. If you trust that it’s been a good inspection, you will be ready to go forward and start reviewing your options to fix your pipe problems.