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Thread: Drain Cameras

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    1,258

    Default Drain Cameras

    I've got a small opportunity to add some business scoping the main sewer drain lines of houses in this area. I see there is quite a variation in camera prices and options. Is anyone on this board already doing this? If so, any advice on what type of camera to buy, features it should have, and/or things to avoid?

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    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Chicago IL
    Posts
    1,984

    Default Re: Drain Cameras

    I don't do this and don't know any HI's that do. However, I have a plumber I recommend and most HI's I know also have a guy they recommend.
    The Plumbers I know have all gotten their camera system used because they cost too much new. The Ridgid is the popular one around here.
    From experience I would make a few suggestions
    - I don't know that I would do this as part of an HI even at the additional charge. If you do 1 HI a day you'll probably be Ok. If you are the kind of guy who schedules 2-3 a day you could run into problems time wise.
    - Sometimes access to a clean out or floor drain is quick and easy. Other times getting a clean out off takes forever and can screw up your time table.
    - Sometimes it can be a fairly clean job, other times very messy.
    - Around here at least guys typically run through the main line, the stoop drains and old clay ground connections depending on what has been negotiated.
    - Sometimes guys hook up a garden hose and run water through the line to clean things out a bit so the camera shows stuff better. Thats of course a bit more work
    - Guys typically have all the usual plumber stuff in their trucks. For your purposes, as I understand them, I would say you will need more than just the camera.
    Camera, drop cloths, garden hose, wrenches, an assortment of 2", 3" and 4" clean out plugs and/or grates to close back up if the existing old one breaks, dope, gloves, kneepads or overalls,
    Hope that helps.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    St Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,628

    Default Re: Drain Cameras

    I've seen several done while I was doing the home inspection. Watched a plumber crack the cast iron waste pipe trying to get the plug out. Saw another get his camera stuck. I know my insurance wouldn't cover it. I personally wouldn't mess with it.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    89

    Default Re: Drain Cameras

    I too had been thinking about getting one of these cameras but decided not to get into that business. Whenever a plumber had to use a camera, I would make time to be there. While watching the screen with him, I would ask what is he looking at. I missed everything that he saw. With his extensive experience in these ground colonoscopies, he knew what he was looking at, I didn't.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    so so, California
    Posts
    1,769

    Default Re: Drain Cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Adame View Post
    I too had been thinking about getting one of these cameras but decided not to get into that business. Whenever a plumber had to use a camera, I would make time to be there. While watching the screen with him, I would ask what is he looking at. I missed everything that he saw. With his extensive experience in these ground colonoscopies, he knew what he was looking at, I didn't.
    We do sewer. using the Rigid seesnake and locator. We book anywhere between 5-10 a month.

    The MAZZA INSPECTION GROUP
    www.mazzainspections.com
    Level III Thermo-picture-taker-er...er

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    2,365

    Default Re: Drain Cameras

    Scopes are very common in my area but the majority of inspectors don't do them. Radon testing is also very popular and some of the smart scope guys do both. I've tossed around the idea of the sewer scopes and got as far as doing some research on the cameras.

    The good equipment built to industrial quality for use everyday is going to run well over 5K. I think the busiest sewer guy in town told me he was into his stuff for 8K total.

    When I looked at doing it I found some cheap cameras that burned video direclty to an SD card for around 800-1200. Of course, that's nowhere near the quality of the 8K machine but will the 8K one last 8X as long? Hard to say. After talking to a couple sellers of the cheapie cameras I decided if I ever do it with a cheap camera I'd only put it down newer plastic lines - in my area that's pretty much anything built after the mid-70s. Most of the damage to the equipment comes from older cast iron, concrete or tile drains that are all beat up and your camera gets stuck and breaks.

    Fortunately I'm super busy just doing regular inspections and haven't had the time to pursue the drain thing any further. I also have a company with 5 guys so unless we want to get everyone a camera and train them it would create a bit of a problem. If I were just a one man operation I'd probably do it. The extra 125-150 for an average of 30 mins extra work (and some equipment cost) seems like a good deal.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
    Posts
    1,394

    Default Re: Drain Cameras

    At $120 a pop (around here), I can't justify the cost of the quality equipment which can run up around $10K and more. I've been on many inspections with scope guys and I've gotten good enough at watching their monitors, that I can catch the "embellishers".

    Several guys have told me that Rigid has the best cameras.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

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