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Diving Deep Into Inspection Camera Issues

Imagine this: You’re kneeling in dry, dusty grass right beside a cleanout, pushing your Scanprobe pipe inspection system slowly down into the drain. The pushrod is a little bit slippery, but thankfully stiff; it’s flexible enough to enable you to tackle the 90-degree turn at the base of the cleanout and then coax it in the street direction. The lawn seems to be enormous. The customers’ drains and toilets back up almost every time it rains, and you’ve confirmed that everything between the cleanout and the house is flowing normally. Under the lawn lies your problem, and it’s certain to involve a leaking or broken pipe.

It occurs to you that you’re propelling a video camera into what’s certainly a damaged sewer pipe. What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, plenty.

While this imaginary scenario seems relatively controlled and safe in comparison to certain camera applications that we’ve heard about over the years, contractors damage their drain inspection systems in similar scenarios on a daily basis. It is simple to do and costly to correct, so let’s discuss the three most usual suspects and witness what we can learn.

Wearing the pushrod on the sewer entry

The pushrod itself is comprised of some tough and durable materials, designed to handle the tough terrain that comes with sewer inspection, so you needn’t treat it like your grandma’s fine china.  Equally, it will eventually wear down to the data-carrying wires inside, and when that happens you can expect your camera system to be out of action whilst it is being re-ended.  So take a little care where you can.  When entering a pipeline at a harsh angle, try positioning a spare piece of pipe into the pipeline entry to soften the entry angle and stop the pushrod from rubbing & wearing on the top edge.  Placing a piece of un-used liner over this section of the entry point will also reduce the wear & tear on the rod and enhance the lifespan of your drain camera.

Kinking the pushrod while you thrust it into the pipe

Numerous camera repair centers report that kinks usually occur in the first few feet of the push rod. This can happen when the pushrod is inserted with excess force, especially when there is a blockage or a tight bend to navigate. It may also happen when the operator tries to stand, instead of crouch or kneel beside the drain opening. If you allow it too much room to roam, the pushrod may bow out and kink right before your eyes.

This would be both expensive and embarrassing. Based on the severity of the problem and the brand, a re-termination on a standard pushrod can be costly, as it takes your camera system out of operation whilst it is being repaired.

Our advice is: Slow down, keep your hands low, and as close to the drain as you can. Watch where you’re going and use fast, short motions to get around a blend. Focus!

Damaging the camera head

The camera head is one of the more expensive parts of the pipe inspection system, and often the most vulnerable. The majority of damaged camera heads that arrive at repair centers have a light ring or a cracked lens cover, presumably the consequence of being used as tremendously costly battering rams. The video camera in your pipe inspection system isn’t much different from the one that you used to record the wedding of your eldest cousin. The guts are the same, but it may have been sealed in a stainless steel protective case behind a cap cover of sapphire lens. The LED lights are hidden behind thick glass, and the whole thing is either epoxied or pipe threaded to the end of the pushrod, so it’s sealed up like a tomb in Egypt. While this sounds impressive, all of that is no defense for a drain cleaner who is overly enthusiastic and keen to both identify and clear the blockage with the camera, rather than a more appropriate tool.

Our advice is, don’t use your pipe inspection system as a drain cleaner. You have other tools in your truck that are much less expensive to repair and are much better suited for that task. Don’t blink your eyes when looking at the monitor. If the camera head is approaching a foreign object, a break in the pipe, or is underwater, approach with caution and complete your survey as best you can so you can diagnose the problem. Pay attention, be careful.

Besides these two calamities, are there other ways to damage your camera system? Well, of course. From accidentally getting the camera head stuck in the pipe to kinking the pushrod a hundred feet down the line, there are a plethora of problems that can pop up in the life of a camera system. However, tackling the above will substantially lessen the odds of having a mishap related to the camera ruin your day.

Over the years, we’ve noticed that certain contractors rarely see their camera systems go down for repair, while others seem specifically hard on them. The majority of plumbers and cleaners lie in the middle range, experiencing occasional problems. The important takeaway here is that repair centers see a coherent association between frequency and technique of repairs. Live and learn!

Whether you’re looking for drain cameras for sale or want a drain camera for rent, let Scanprobe know!

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