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Sewer Camera Inspection Houston: What to Expect

September 14, 2023
Sewer Camera Inspection Houston

When plumbing problems arise, pinpointing their exact location can be a challenging task. When a water supply pipe within a wall ruptures, the signs are clear: damp and moldy drywall soon follow. Conversely, when a sewer pipe sustains damage, the issue might manifest itself gradually through damp, marshy ground and overgrown vegetation. However, if the sewer line becomes obstructed, it becomes exceedingly difficult to discern the precise location of the blockage.

In days gone by, identifying potential dig points was a process that relied heavily on educated guesswork. It often entailed drilling exploratory holes, with more misses than hits. Nowadays, a more efficient and cost-effective method exists: the sewer camera inspection.

With the assistance of sewer video cameras and advanced locating equipment, there's no need to resort to exploratory holes or trenches. Instead, a skilled sewer video inspection technician can insert a camera into the line, accurately pinpointing the location of any blockage.

What a Sewer Camera Inspection Is

A sewer camera inspection involves engaging the services of a private company, typically a plumbing specialist, to feed a video line into the sewer pipe.

This video line may extend through your branch lines (the pipes linking bathtubs and faucets to the house's sewer line) or through the primary house sewer line (the larger pipe connecting the house to the municipal sewer line on the street).

At the tip of the line is a camera that grants you an up-close, real-time view of the pipe's interior. Additionally, a transmitting device is affixed to the camera's end, emitting a signal. This signal is then picked up by a locator device positioned above ground.

Municipal water and sewage companies typically do not undertake inspections of the lines extending from homes to the sewer main. The responsibility for inspecting these lines falls upon the homeowner or resident, who must engage the services of a private company.

When a Sewer Camera Inspection Is Beneficial

Most homeowners opt for a sewer line camera inspection only when confronted with an issue such as an insurmountable blockage that cannot be cleared using plungers, liquid drain cleaners, or drain augering.

Less frequently, homeowners may require a camera inspection before adding a new bathroom or embarking on a kitchen or bathroom renovation project. Due to the increased wastewater load in these scenarios, inspecting the sewer line becomes crucial to ensure it can accommodate the heightened demands.

Professional vs. DIY Sewer Camera Inspections

While do-it-yourself sewer camera inspections are possible, it's generally more cost-effective to enlist the expertise of a professional.

Do-It-Yourself Sewer Camera Inspection

Video inspection scopes designed for homeowners, the kind used to inspect walls or crawlspaces, are typically too short to explore more than the initial few feet of the sewer line. Additionally, many of these scopes lack features such as autofocus or self-stabilization.

Local rental yards offer drain inspection camera rentals at a cost of approximately $300 to $400 per day, with locator rentals constituting an additional expense ranging from $85 to $140 per day.

Considering that single-day expenses can reach $400 to $625, it often proves simpler and more economical to hire a company to perform the video inspection. For those in need of the camera for an entire week, discounted weekly rental rates can make this option cost-effective.

Professional Sewer Camera Inspection

Plumbing companies typically possess sewer camera scopes and locator units valued at over $16,000. These tools boast powerful lighting, self-stabilization capabilities (maintaining an upright image), high-resolution imaging, and recording functions. Crucially, these cameras are equipped with transmitters at the tip, aiding technicians in locating blockage points.

Typical Expenses for a Sewer Camera Inspection

The costs associated with sewer camera inspections can vary widely, typically ranging from $400 to $700, contingent on the length of the line inspected and any complications encountered during the process.

Less expensive video inspections may yield lower-quality images due to the use of older equipment and may be bundled with the requirement to purchase additional, more expensive services, such as drain augering.

For those opting to rent a video pipe camera with a 120-foot line from rental yards, daily rates typically range from $300 to $400, while weekly rentals average around $1,100. Although slightly more budget-friendly than what pricier companies charge, the learning curve may significantly reduce the time available for your rental.

What a Sewer Camera Inspection Can Reveal

During a comprehensive sewer line camera inspection, you gain full visibility of the entire passage, from the trap through the sewer line and up to any obstructions. If the camera successfully traverses the blockage, it may even continue through to the starting point of the municipal line.

While the image quality is generally high, the video may appear somewhat shaky because the scope must be manually guided down the line. Additionally, the camera may occasionally become obscured.

The camera unit is equipped with a transmitter. The plumber will halt the camera at the point of blockage, then ascend to ground level, utilizing a locating device to capture the transmission signal. This enables the plumber to mark the precise blockage point with spray paint, indicating the spot where excavation is required.

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