What Can a Camera Inspection Tell You About Your Sewer?

What Can a Camera Inspection Tell You About Your Sewer?

Plumbers have been around for as long as plumbing has existed, making it one of the oldest professions in the modern world. Despite that, plumbing has a come a long way, especially in the last few years as technological advancements have helped make it easier than ever to detect any issues in hard-to-see locations such as your sewer line. Here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, we sometimes use sewer inspection cameras to locate sewer line problems, but only in certain situations.

If you’ve ever wondered in what contexts we may need to use these special cameras, the following explains how they work and what they can detect.

How Sewer Inspection Cameras Work

The device itself features a box with a screen attached a thin, snakelike hose that can be deposited into an open drain. Inside the hose are small lights and a fiber optic camera similar in size to those found in smartphones, and as the camera at the end of the cable extends down the pipe, images of what the camera sees shows up on the screen in real time. As the plumber threads the cable through the pipes, it observes any potential obstructions or leaks.

What These Cameras Can Show Us

Perhaps most importantly, these cameras have made it possible for us to detect problems that may be located in a sewer line, which is buried underground and often inaccessible for visual inspection from the outside. In a nutshell, these cameras can show our professionals most cracks, root damage, and corrosion, giving us an easy look at what needs to be fixed and how we could best approach fixing it.

For example, the camera could determine that root damage is what’s causing the issue, so we would know how to use the right kinds of tools to correct the issue. If there’s a clog, we know how to flush it out. There’s a good reason we use these so much at our jobs!

What Cameras Can’t Do

While a sewer camera inspection can catch many problems, there are some things it can’t do. With some old cast iron piping, the image can be hard to interpret sometimes, at which point we may have to use other diagnostic methods to figure out what’s going on.

At the end of the day, though, these cameras are very helpful in diagnosing what’s wrong with a sewer line. They help Garvin’s Sewer Service professionals do their job in a way that allows us to complete jobs quickly and efficiently. These types of modern plumbing tools are good for everybody involved, so don’t be surprised if you see one of our technicians using a sewer camera the next time you call them to your house to correct a sewer line issue.

How Do You Know It’s Time for a Sewer Replacement?

Thankfully, modern sewage disposal systems are designed to ensure that we never have to deal with waste the way our ancestors did, but because we’ve grown so used to our sewage systems working flawlessly, the moment a system incurs any sort of damage, we notice it. And it isn’t fun.

There are a few things to look for if you suspect sewer damage, so if you notice any of the following occurring in your home, please contact Garvin’s Sewer Service at your earliest convenience. We will be able to diagnose the issue and undertake whatever sewer replacement or repair may be necessary.

#1 Sewage Backups or Blockages

If your toilets are experiencing clogs or backflow of any sort on a consistent basis, there is a chance that the problem is with the sewer or drain rather than the commode itself. The same could be true for your sinks or bathtubs, so keep an eye out for apparent blockages, and call your plumber to have a closer look.

#2 Slow Drain

One sign of a blockage is slow drains, which could admittedly indicate something much less serious than a sewer issue, but if it’s all the drains and toilets in a house that seems to be draining slowly, the chances of the problem being sewer-related rise exponentially.

#3 Unpleasant Odors

If your sewer system is performing the way it should, you should not smell anything foul in or around your home. If you notice the smell of anything even remotely like a sewer inside or even outside of your home, there’s a chance there’s a problem somewhere you can’t see.

#4 Standing Water in Your Lawn

Even without the odor, standing water in your lawn could indicate a leak in a sewer line somewhere underneath the grass in your yard. There should not be soggy or raised patches of earth in your lawn. If there is, it’s possible the sewer line is the issue.

#5 Extra Green Grass

By the same token, extra water and the extra nutrients found in the surprise “fertilizer” working its way into your soil can help grass grow fuller, greener, and more lush—but only in patches. If you notice these patches in your yard where they haven’t been in the past, it’s worth calling your plumber to have a look at your sewer line.

#6 Septic Pooling

The worst symptom of potential sewer problems is septic pooling, which means it’s not standing water in your yard, but standing septic waste. That means a broken main line or septic tank, and on top of being disgusting, it also means you’ve got a big problem somewhere underground that only a professional plumber can fix.

When It’s Time to Contact a Professional

Garvin’s will give an honest assessment of your sewer line, cleaning it first to determine the severity of the issue, offering a camera service to pinpoint the problem area, and offering sewer repair/replacement in the cases where that is the best solution. Unlike other companies, sewer replacement isn’t our first step – in fact, we have saved Denver homeowners tens of thousands of dollars a year by cleaning and maintaining their sewer lines rather than replacing them.

How to Clear a Basement Drain Without a Snake | Garvin's Sewer Service

How to Clear a Basement Drain Without a Snake

For as long as there has been modern plumbing, pipes and drains have gotten clogged, and it never stops being frustrating for the people and/or families dealing with the problem. Floor drains—especially those located in basements—are especially susceptible to blockages since all the other water and waste from the house is carried downward by gravity to septic tanks or public sewers. Knowing that, we see a lot of floor drain clogs here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, and while we would love to help those in need with these types of problems, there are a few approaches homeowners can try before contacting an emergency drain cleaning service.

The Causes of Floor Drain Clogs

Before attempting to unclog a floor drain on your own, it’s worth knowing why these clogs happen in the first place. The most common issue occurs when sediment or waste accumulates in the pipes over time and creates a clog large enough to slow down the flow of the water. Other possible causes include broken or damaged pipes, water flow issues, or even pipes that were installed incorrectly in the first place. Sometimes, torrential storms can leave dirt and other sediment in the system that also can cause problems.

Whatever the cause, it’s a headache that can lead to bigger problems if left unattended.

How to Unclog a Floor Drain

While using a plumbing snake is usually the easiest way to tackle this (and again, Garvin’s Sewer Service is happy to provide this service), there are a few other things homeowners can try.

Clean the Trap

The first step in getting your floor drain to work as it was intended is to clean out the trap. To do this, locate the backflow preventer in your basement, remove its cap, then get a chisel and drive it around the notches in the retaining ring. Loosen the ring and the backflow ball, and then use a shop vac to suck out all the nasty sediment in the trap, which likely is part of what’s causing the problem.

After cleaning the trap, remove the backflow preventer’s cleanout plug and connect strong wire or cable to a power drill so you can spin it into the pipe opening. This should clear the clog and get your water flowing again.

Try Baking Soda and Vinegar

Sometimes, baking soda and vinegar can unclog a drain if the blockage isn’t especially stubborn. Start by pouring a pot of boiling hot water down the drain, followed by ½ cup baking soda. Let that sit a few minutes, then pour a mixture of one cup of vinegar and one cup of very hot water on top of the baking soda. Let it sit for five to ten minutes, then flush it one last time with another pot of boiling water.

Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners

If that doesn’t work, it might be time to call someone here at Garvin’s Sewer Service to handle the clog for you. Avoid using chemical drain cleaners because they send toxic material into the sewers, and these chemicals can even corrode older plumbing systems. If chemicals are necessary, allow professionals to be the ones who use them.

When It’s Time to Call a Professional

If you have a basement drain blockage that won’t unclog, never hesitate to call Garvin’s Sewer Service. If you can’t do it safely yourself, we will get your basement drain unclogged and functioning properly again in no time.