Pipe Inspection Camera: Accurately Identify the Type of Blockage and its Precise Location

Source: usaborescopes.com

Aussies might have come up with the dual flush toilet, but it’s of little use when the water in the dunny isn’t flushing like it should, or God forbid it starts overflowing. This is a telltale sign that you’ve got a blocked pipe. Calling a plumber is what most of us do. A detailed pipe inspection on all the plumbing can reveal the exact location and reason for the blockage. It can also tell us about other potential issues, like nasty smells, leaks, mould build-up along walls, dips in lawns under mains pipes, or even nasty infestations of rats or insects.

What is a Pipe Camera Inspection?

What is a Pipe Camera Inspection
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A pipe camera inspection involves a special camera attached at the end of a long, flexible cable and run into the pipes which plumbers deem have an issue. Screens at the end of the unit provide real-time visuals and help locate the problem. The benefit of using a pipe camera is that is a non-invasive process, meaning no pipes are damaged and no drilling or demolishing is required into walls or concrete. The procedure is quick and precise. Plumbers will inform you of the cause of the blockage or any other problems with the piping, and give you a quote for any required work.

Besides house pipe installation, pipe camera inspections are carried out by council workers, engineers and contractors in assessing the condition of street sewage and drainage pipes, by pool cleaners in locating blockage in pool pipes, and by builders in revealing faults in intermediate ceilings, wall cavities or HVAC systems. Pipe camera inspections are also conducted by mechanics when inspecting exhaust pipes.

What can a Pipe Inspection Tell You?

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Pipe inspection cameras can tell you about the overall condition of pipes. You will also find out about the layout, the types of pipe and the materials they’re made of if any necessary changes need to be made. The condition of the connections is also assessed. A pipe inspection can tell you the location of the blockage and the cause. Improper drainage is often caused by debris, waste, or objects collecting in pipes after heavy downpours. All you might need is a little cleaning. To this effect, a pipe inspection can save you money from any unnecessary repairs, but also ascertain the kind of work that needs to be done.

The Equipment Used

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A pipe camera inspection kit consists of an inspection rod at the end of which is a camera. The data collected from the camera is transmitted to a monitoring industrial display. Different units vary as to the features, the tech and overall build. Let’s take a closer look at the main parts.

The inspection rod or cable is wound around a steel reel and is made of durable materials. Cheaper units use PVC outer sheathing, while high-end models deploy fibreglass or even lightweight and ultra-strong Kevlar. All have varying levels of water and chemical resistance. The cables also need to be flexible to negotiate 90-degree corners in piping. Lengths vary, from home inspection units around 20 or 30 metres, to industrial rods measuring up to 150 metres. These are used mainly in the inspection of street sewage pipes with larger distances between manholes.

The camera is the central part of the inspection kit, and provides both stills and video as the rod makes its way through the pipes. As with inspection rods, cameras are also made tough, with sapphire lens coatings for minimal scratches or damage. Metal housings contain the camera innards. Different features will provide for varying degrees of clarity. All cameras will have some sort of illumination, with integrated LED lighting the preferred choice. Lenses can be zoomed for close-up details and can pan and tilt to different angles allowing you to inspect pipe walls and fittings. Pipe cameras have high-resolution sensors, sourced from reputed camera sensor makers, allowing for both clear and detailed video and photos that can be enlarged multiple times to reveal even the smallest cracks. More expensive pipe inspection kits can have interchangeable cameras with different lens setups. Behind the camera is a transmitter telling operators the precise location of the camera. Pinpointing the exact whereabouts of the issue allows for minimal disruption or unnecessary damage to surrounding areas when work is carried out.

All this is transmitted to the monitor on the pipe camera inspection unit above. Monitors vary according to price. Most are TFT colour displays, with anti-glare against strong sunlight. Sizes and resolution range from smaller 8-inch units with 720p to large 15-inch screens with 4k output. All monitors have either internal storage or SD card slots to record the video and stills from the camera. High-end models can also deploy splash resistant keyboards to enter useful information during the inspection.

Since pipe camera inspection kits need to be deployed to different sites, they are lightweight and easily portable. Power is supplied by rechargeable batteries, allowing for a full day’s work on a single charge. Rugged, watertight cases house the camera and monitors, giving users a safe storage solution when the kit is not in use or is transported. As for prices, this is precision inspection gear sourced from specialised stores selling industry-spec testing equipment. Smaller units for household use are relatively affordable, while fully featured industrial kits are generally purchased by businesses or local councils.