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The Benefits of Using a Plumbing Video Camera Inspection

A plumbing video camera inspection, also known as a sewer camera inspection, is an invaluable tool for identifying and diagnosing problems in plumbing and sewer lines. As technology has advanced, these video cameras have become smaller, more affordable, and easier to use, making them a staple piece of equipment for many plumbers and homeowners.

What is a Plumbing Video Camera

A plumbing video camera, sometimes called a pipe camera or drain camera, is a waterproof camera on the end of a flexible cable that plumbers can insert into pipes, drains, and sewers to get a close visual inspection. High-resolution cameras capture crisp, clear footage that is displayed on a connected monitor screen so the plumber can assess the interior condition of the pipes.
Many plumbing video cameras also have built-in lighting and feature lengths of cable ranging from a few feet to over 100 feet, allowing them to access piping through cleanouts, sinks, toilets or other access points. The cable diameters are small, usually less than half an inch, so they can fit inside pipes as small as two inches in diameter.
Key Benefits of a Plumbing Video Camera Inspection
  1. Precise Diagnosis of Problems. The biggest advantage of using a plumbing camera is that it allows plumbers to get a direct visual on the interior of pipes and drains. This makes it easy to pinpoint the exact location and cause of clogs, leaks, cracks, and other issues. For example, a camera inspection can reveal if a pipe is blocked by grease, tree roots, a collapsed section, or other debris.
  2. Avoid Unnecessary Excavation. Because camera inspections are so effective at identifying problems, plumbers can use the footage to determine if excavation and replacement of pipes is truly necessary. For minor issues like a isolated crack or clog, targeted repairs directed by camera findings may suffice. This prevents unnecessary yard and landscaping destruction.
  3. See Problems Beyond Visible Access Points. Drain cameras can access piping through small, accessible openings like cleanouts and drain openings. This allows plumbers to evaluate sections of buried sewer and drain lines beyond the visible access points. They can check for leaks, cracks, and clogs in hard-to-reach underground pipes.
  4. Efficient Inspection of Long Pipe Runs. Trying to diagnose plumbing issues in long runs of piping would be extremely difficult without a camera inspection. The camera can travel long distances to scan pipes under floors, behind walls, and beneath properties. Plumbers can quickly scan large sections of piping and zoom in on areas of concern.
  5. Permanent Visual Record. Most plumbing video camera systems allow you to record both photos and video footage of the pipe interior. This creates a permanent record that can be saved for documentation purposes. Homeowners can also be shown visual evidence of any problem areas.
This video shows how the Miniflex Plumbing Inspection camera makes at least 3 schedules 40 - 90° tight bends in 1.3" PVC pipes, and then 3 tight 90° turns in 2" pipes and then 2 turns in 3" pipes, all together it makes around 8 90s!
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  1. The MiniFlex Plumbing Camera - the best and only device you will ever need for inspecting small diameter pipes (1.25"-4" pipes). It is a versatile inspection system specifically designed for very tight bends and traps.
  2. VIPER drain camera - the Portable Drain Camera is an economical kit designed for high quality inspection of sewers, building ducts/pipelines, manholes, chimneys and power plants
  3. Ridgid SeeSnake MicroDrain Camera - Excellent compact camera for 2" to 4" drain lines. Quality Ridgid construction.
  4. Ridgid SeeSnake Color Camera System - Industry leader with superior cable, camera and monitor. Very versatile for small to large drain lines.
  5. Hathorn PheonX Pro Sewer Camera - Records directly to SD card for simple documentation. High-end camera produces amazing pipe images.
  6. Vivax-Metrotech vCam-6 - Quality pipe inspection camera with color LCD monitor. Great value camera for municipal sewer departments.
"A drain pipe camera allows identifying and addressing minor drain issues before they become major expensive problems."

Key Factors When Choosing a Plumbing Camera

  • Image quality - Higher resolution cameras will provide better detail of pipes, flaws, and blockages.
  • Cable length - Longer cables (50 feet or more) enable access to extended pipes and sewers.
  • Durability - Look for cameras rated for complete waterproofing and tough materials.
  • Portability - Compact, lightweight cameras are easier to transport and maneuver.
  • Monitor - A large LCD screen makes it easier to view and analyze footage in real-time.
  • Lighting - Bright, consistent lighting ensures visibility of the entire pipe interior.
Plumbing video camera inspections are a quick, efficient way for plumbers to diagnose pipe and sewer issues. The visual footage and analysis provides valuable insight into identifying and solving common plumbing problems. Investing in a quality plumbing camera system pays dividends through their ability to pinpoint issues, avoid unnecessary excavation, and create documentation. With the right camera, plumbers can offer homeowners a detailed look inside their pipes during the inspection process.