sewer scope inspection denver image of technician with camera machine

The Top 3 Reasons to Schedule a Sewer Scope Inspection in Denver

What is a sewer scope inspection & why get one?

A sewer scope inspection is the best option when you want to know what’s happening inside a sewer pipe. A sewer scope, also called a sewer camera inspection or simply “scope,” is a tool used to inspect the inside of a sewer line. Unlike a roto-rooter machine or jetter, it doesn’t clean the line; instead, it lets you see the condition inside the sewer line without having to dig it up. 

A sewer scope or camera inspection runs the full length of the sewer line. With a sewer scope, you can determine:

  • The condition of the sewer line (excellent, good, fair or bad)
  • What the sewer line is made out of (clay, cast iron, plastic, or Orangeburg)
  • Any problems with the sewer line (such as roots, bellies, offsets or breaks)
  • The length of the sewer
  • The sewer line access point

For the best results, we recommend a sewer cleaning beforehand. The camera footage won’t be usable if the sewer line has too many obstructions that block out light. For example, if the pipe is full of water, the camera will only see water and things floating in it. It won’t show cracks, offsets or other problem areas. A sewer scope inspection may be ineffective if your sewer line is completely blocked or broken. Instead, your best option would be a sewer line locate.

The top three reasons that homeowners in the Denver area schedule a sewer scope inspection:

  • You are buying a property and want to know if the sewer is in good condition.
  • You are having frequent plumbing problems and want to know the reason.
  • You aren’t sure about an aspect of your sewer line and want to see what’s going on.

Why book a sewer camera inspection for a real estate transaction?

Whether you are buying or selling a property, a sewer scope is very helpful. No one wants to purchase a property with constant sewer line back-ups or a broken sewer line. A camera inspection will give you a look inside to confirm the line is in good working order.

How can a sewer scope help resolve ongoing plumbing problems? 

If you’ve been dealing with ongoing plumbing issues, like backups, more frequently than once every six months, we recommend a camera inspection. The problem may result from an issue in your sewer line that a sewer scope can catch.

Should I get a sewer scope to see what’s going on in the line? 

If you are curious about your sewer line, a sewer scope can answer some questions, like the line’s condition and what it’s made of. Sewer specialists can also use it to determine what repairs have been done in the past.

We suggest that if there isn’t a problem, don’t look for one.

What happens if there are problems with the sewer line?

If the sewer scope finds problems, or we can’t see in the line because it still isn’t open after cleaning, we recommend a sewer line locate. A line locate lets us know where to dig (depth and location) to determine the problem.

When there are problems with a sewer line, we usually recommend a sewer line cleaning instead of a sewer line replacement. We are specialists at opening lines that others have determined need replacement. We only suggest sewer line repairs or replacement if there is full failure of a section of the sewer line due to blockage or breakage or if you need to add an access point for proper maintenance.

What’s the difference between a sewer scope and a sewer line locate?

A scope is like eyes; it allows us to see inside to determine the condition of a drain line. A locate is like ears; it allows us to hear a sound to mark the direction and depth of the line. After a sewer scope inspection, you’ll receive video footage of your sewer line. After a locate, there will be markings on the ground noting where the sewer line runs. he same piece of equipment, with different attachments, is used to provide these two services.

If you have additional questions about sewer scope or sewer location services in the Denver, Colorado, area, contact us! We’d love to share our expertise with you.

About the Author:

Kris Jordan is the General Manager of Garvin’s Sewer Service serving the Denver metro area. She is the third generation to work in this family business started in 1940 by her Great Uncle Russell Garvin. Garvin’s prides itself on reliability and honest, knowledgeable staff.


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.

7 Tips to Reduce Clogs in Your Low Flush Toilet

Recently, in our blog titled: Your Low Flush Toilet Isn’t Really Saving Water. Here’s why”, we talked about the scientific reasons why low flush toilets clog more often than their water-guzzling counterparts. Knowing this reason, however, doesn’t make those endless fights with your low flush toilet any less frustrating. So, we decided to offer up 7 tips to help you reduce clogs in your low flush toilet.7 Tips to Reduce Clogs in Your Low Flush Toilet

Say No to Ultra

While you may really enjoy the extra fluffy ultra-style toilet papers, they absorb more water than regular ones. This, combined with the limited water the low flush toilet is producing, means more likely clogs. Super absorbent tissue plus limited water means it is absorbing and sitting, rather than moving through as it should. Change your toilet paper, reduce clogs.

Run More Water

If your entire home is full of water saving devices, and your sewer line hasn’t been adjusted to deal with the appropriate float level, you will actually have to waste water sometimes in order to keep the system moving. I know, ironic. Run an empty load of laundry, or run the hose into a floor drain to allow more water into the system to get the “float level” back up to push debris through the drain lines.

Force a Flush

Another way to get more water into your drain system is to force a large flush. To do this, you can fill a large bucket with water and pour it into the toilet. This will cause the toilet to manually flush and push the water through the stub and trap under it to clear it of any resting debris. NOTE: DON’T do this if you suspect a clog, as it could cause the toilet to overflow. Use a plunger instead.

Flush More

Again, flushing more often seems like it defeats the point of a low flush toilet, but remember, it is a design flaw only in homes where the sewer line wasn’t set up to manage lower water levels. Because most homes were built to last a very long time, retrofitting new water saving devices onto older drain systems is a norm. New homes built with sustainability and water conservation in mind will likely have less issues. So, flush more frequently to reduce clogs.

Don’t Allow Extras

Anything extra absorbent, heavy, or that doesn’t break down easily, will become a culprit for causing clogs. Either they themselves will create a blockage, or they will collect debris and build into a clog. The most common problem items are: wipes, tampons, and paper towels. Don’t let your guests or your family flush these items if you have a low flush toilet. Use the trash can with a lid instead.

Conduct Preventative Cleanings

Scheduling a regular preventative maintenance sewer or drain cleaning can help reduce clogs by pushing additional debris through the line. Consider a cleaning every 6 months. Ask for discounts for regular service to keep your system from backing up due to clogs that keep building.

Keep a Plunger Handy

Whether you have a low flush toilet or not, we always recommend having a plunger in every bathroom. This will help prevent embarrassing guest issues, especially when they haven’t followed the above rules. A plunger should be designed to fit your toilet and create enough pressure to push through any clog.

Experiencing frequent toilet clogs? Garvin’s Sewer Service has been serving the Greater Denver area homeowner’s drain and sewer needs for over 75 years. Give us a call today and get unclogged.

Your Low Flush Toilet Isn’t Really Saving Water. Here’s why.

If you have a low flush toilet, whether at home or at work, you probably are frustrated by how often it seems to clog or cause back-ups. And there is actually a scientific reason why. I have two visual examples to help you understand. The first, I call The Drip.

The Drip

low flush toilet clog

Items needed: A straw with a wrapper and a glass of water.

Get a straw from a commercial establishment- the ones with a paper wrapper. Remove the paper wrapper and form it into a ball and set it on the table. Fill the straw with water, keeping your finger over one end to hold it in place. Hold the straw over the wrapper and let the water drip onto the wrapper. The paper wad will become wet, but likely won’t move.

Refill the straw with water and instead of letting it drip, let all the water go at once. The paper wad will likely move from the place it was sitting.

In this example, the wad of paper represents toilet paper in your sewer line. The dripping water represents a low flush toilet. The amount of water is just too low to move the paper. When the straw is fully emptied, then the paper is able to move. This brings us to metaphor two: The Ocean.

The Ocean

sewer float line

(c) National Geographic

Have you ever been to the ocean and watched the waves sneak up the shore? The water ebbs and flows. Have you noticed how the tide carries debris and deposits it on the sand? The items float in the water and then catch on the sand and are left behind. This is also true in your sewer line. When you flush your toilet, the debris rides the water down the drain and are deposited at the end of the tide.

Your sewer system is built somewhat like an ocean. It is made to allow water to flow out of your house using a “float level”. In a 2” pipe, the water carries out all the debris. It then opens into a 3” pipe and then a 4” pipe. This thins the water level, allowing debris to settle. Most residential sewer lines run from the house about 70-110’ out of your house to the main city sewer lines.

However, in a low flush toilet, this “tide” may only deposit the debris 20 feet out. This can cause serious problems because that deposit can now catch other debris and build up in the line, rather than being pushed through to the city sewer main. Sewer lines are designed for 5 gallon tanks, so with the new water conserving toilets and sinks, less water is going into the drain system. In most cases that means half the water is entering, but the outside sewer line wasn’t adjusted to allow for a proper float level. And, that is why your low flush toilet clogs or causes back-ups.

The great irony here is that in order to clear your line, you need a ton of water. But, we also have a few other tips you can implement to help you prevent your low flush toilet from clogging, in the blog titled: 7 Tips to Reduce Clogs in Your Low Flush Toilet.


Having a problem with toilet clogs? Garvin’s Sewer Service has been serving the Greater Denver area homeowner’s drain and sewer needs for over 75 years. Give us a call today and get unclogged.

Sticking a Scope in Unmentionable Places

And Why it’s Good

Get those pipes cleaned out with drain cleaning service with our sewer snake.Nobody really wants to spend their time thinking about their sewer line. And, even as plumbers, we don’t blame them. What’s found underground is not for the squeamish and really shouldn’t be mentioned in from of certain company. But come on now. We’re all adults. We need to get real about taking a good look at your sewer line and why using a scope to do so is always a good idea.

A Precautionary Plumbing Tale

Take Tammy and Mark for example. When buying their new home, they decided to forego adding a sewer scope to their home inspection, thinking that the house wasn’t all that old, so why pay that additional expense. Unfortunately for Tammy and Mark, the next buyers of that home weren’t so trusting or lackadaisical. During the negotiation processes of transferring the house, the prospective owners DID decide to have their sewer scoped and lo and behold: the plumbing company found an eight foot crack in the main sewer line. The prospective buyers made the contract contingent on Tammy and Mark fixing the problem before the close of escrow, costing them more than $5,200. Had Tammy and Mark hired a plumber to scope the line before buying the property, they could have had the previous owner pay to have the crack fixed. Their oversight ended up costing them big time.

As Denver’s local plumbing experts, we pride ourselves on professional plumbing services that exceed expectations. By offering to take a real good look at your sewer lines, we help you avoid both nasty messes and blunders that are both regrettable and financially painful.

Give us a call for sewer scoping services if you are looking to buy or sell a house or suspect that something amiss is going on with your pipes.

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After We’ve Verified That You Need Sewer Line Repair With Our Sewer Scope, What Are Your Options?


garvins_cta3Here at Garvin’s Sewer Service we don’t replace sewer lines. We have to admit, we’re pretty amazing at sewer cleaning, rooter service, and using a sewer snake. But when it comes to sewer line repair and replacement, we like to think of ourselves as a third-party consultant. In this way, you can know that when we use our sewer scope to identify the problem, we have no ulterior motives.

So, when you call Garvin’s to give our professional opinion as to whether or not you need a new sewer line, what can happen?

Let us verify that regular rooter service is or isn’t what you need: Some people have a backed up sewer line and immediately think that that’s the end of their sewer line. What the hydro-hypochondriacs don’t realize is that most sewer problems are taken care of with thorough rooter service. If that works, you might be good for years to come. If it works for only a short amount of time, then it might be time for…

Sending the Sewer Camera Down: Garvin’s offers sewer camera service, which we also call sewer scoping. While it can be relatively expensive, it’s an excellent way to find out what’s going on in your sewer line. Since we’re a third party, we can be completely honest about what we see. It can also give you a better indication of what you should do next.

Sewer Lining: Sewer lining might be an option for you, depending on how bad the break in your sewer line is. Sewer lining, also called CIPP (cured in place pipe), sends a resin-filled lining into your sewer pipe. The lining is then forced against the walls of the existing pipe with a bladder and hot water, and then in about an hour the resin hardens and the lining is permanently affixed to the inside of your old pipe.

Sewer Bursting: Sewer bursting sounds pretty dramatic, and that’s because it is! A small pipe is sent through your old sewer line and then connected to your new sewer line waiting on the other end. The small pipe then pulls the new pipe through your old pipe, destroying it as it goes. Essentially, your old pipe simply becomes the guide for the new one and is bursted as the new one forces its way through.

Trenching and Replacement: If you’re unaware of sewer lining or sewer bursting, you might think that trenching and replacement is the only way to go. However, there are times when those first two methods won’t work. Severe breaks, like when part of the pipe has collapsed into a sinkhole and alignment is no longer possible, might require you to have your sewer line replaced. In this case your yard will suffer, as your old sewer line will have to be removed and a new one installed. Replacement is the most expensive option and the most destructive to your property.

Garvin’s Sewer Service is always happy to check out your sewer system with our sewer camera, and if you need guidance on who to hire, we know of the companies that we’d trust with our own home. When you’re having problems, give us a call and we can help guide you through the process.




Top 3 Reasons You Want To Avoid Sewer Replacement


video_ctaHere at Garvin’s, we have to wince every time we drive by someone’s house and see that they’re having their entire sewer line replaced. We hope the homeowner took every step possible before they devoted themselves to such an endeavor, and that the company that they’ve chosen to replace their sewer line is one of the reputable ones. Far too many people are talked into sewer replacement even when they might not need it. Customers should know that there are sewer camera options that might tell you that you don’t even need your line replaced.

If you have another option to sewer replacement, you’ll probably want to take it. Sewer replacement can disrupt your life in so many ways. Here are some of the problems you should try to avoid if possible.

Save your lawn: Having your sewer line replaced wreaks havoc on your lawn. And it’s not just the obvious line that has to be dug out directly above your sewer line, either. You also have to deal with the tracks the backhoe leaves, which not only destroys your grass but also compacts the ground under its treads, preventing oxygen from reaching roots and making it harder for anything to grow there. Backhoes can also crack your sidewalk, and it’s unlikely the sewer line replacement company will take responsibility for it.

Save your trees: If the tree roots were the original cause of the pipe breakage and rooter service didn’t work, it might actually be unavoidable and advisable to remove the tree, especially if it’s of a species known to be particularly aggressive against sewer pipes.

The real problem would be if you lose the tree because it’s simply in the way. Losing a tree because it was planted in the wrong spot and has to be removed during sewer replacement can be heartbreaking.

Even if the tree is not fully removed, its health can be affected if too many of its roots are removed during the sewer replacement. Yet another reasons to avoid complete sewer replacement if possible.

Save your money: Sewer line replacement is one of the most expensive replacements that you have to undertake on your house, made all the worst by the fact that most insurance plans aren’t going to recover replacement. Imagine the cost of replacing your furnace, and then doubling it! The average sewer replacement costs between $5,000 and and $13,000, which is a house cost that almost no one is ready for. You’ll probably be paying for it for years.

What’s all this mean? Avoid sewer replacement if at all possible! First, if you’re having problems with your sewer and regular rooter service isn’t working, let Garvin’s employ our sewer camera and we can give you an unbiased, third party review of your sewer line’s health with our sewer scope. There’s always the chance that there’s a complete break and you’ll have to have everything replaced, but if you can avoid it it’s a good idea to have all of your options. Contact Garvin’s at the first sign of trouble!




Getting To Know The Sewer Camera A Bit Better

Sewer cameras are pretty amazing pieces of equipment.

“Say cheese, Grease Monster partially made of cheese!”

Sometimes sewer cleaning goes perfectly smooth…you need rooter service, we send down the sewer snake, it chops up everything, you sigh with relief that your drains work again, and we head off to fight clogs in another neighborhood.

But sometimes there are bigger problems…clogs that just don’t want to go away or pipes that have had a major break. Of course, you can’t be sure which one it is, and you don’t want to go digging up your front lawn every time there’s a mystery blockage.

That’s where the sewer camera comes in. The sewer camera was developed so that we can figure out exactly what’s going on in your lateral pipe (it works much better than a mirror and a flashlight!). So what makes a sewer camera so special, and how is it different from a GoPro strapped to a rat’s back?

The Camera: We’re not sending just any camera down the drain. These cameras have sapphire lenses that are scratch-resistant in case they bump into anything hard. Of course it’s waterproof, and the really cool thing is that it’s self-leveling so that the images doesn’t twist and turn when it’s in your pipes.

We want to see as much as possible, as it’s important that we don’t miss anything. That’s why the sewer scope has an array of high-intensity lights surrounding the lens that light up anything the camera is pointed at. It’s a small space, so the camera lens is wide angle so that we can see from edge to edge.

The Control Box: The control box contains the controls for the lights and camera, as well as a video screen. It also houses the DVD recorder, and it’s important for the footage to be recorded so that it can be inspected later in case you want a second opinion. It also makes it much easier for you to view the footage without everyone having to be crowded around the control box as the inspection is happening!

The Cable: Unlike typical rooter service, the cable that that lens is attached to doesn’t have to punch through tree roots and clogs. The cable is often hand-fed into your line so that the process and final video footage is as smooth as possible.

The Technician: Perhaps the most important part of the sewer scope is the person who is performing the inspection. While it’s great that the camera allows us to see at such a wide angle, this image is distorted and can make small problems look huge. It’s important to have a sewer expert who can properly interpret the image that appears on screen so that no one overreacts and starts digging up the yard prematurely.

Sewer scopes are great because they can locate not only what the problem is but also the exact location of a problem. If you’re having repeated sewer problems, contact Garvin’s Sewer Service and we’ll send down the sewer camera to find out exactly what’s going wrong.




Buying A Pre-existing Home? Make Sure You Let The Professionals Take Care Of Your Sewer Inspection


Sewer inspection requires expert use of a sewer cameraIf you’re about to buy a pre-owned home, you’ve probably been told that a sewer inspection is a good idea. We wholeheartedly agree with this, because you never know the information that the previous homeowner might be holding back from you regarding the health of the soon-to-be-yours sewer system.

We’ve noticed a trend lately where home inspectors have started offering sewer inspections on their list of home inspection line items. They’re not necessarily including it in their home inspection; rather, it’s an additional service that you can buy from them.

But we’ve got a couple of reasons why you’ll probably want to go with professional sewer inspectors like Garvin’s Sewer Service instead of relying on a traditional home inspector.

They might not have the proper training with the equipment: Sewer cameras can be tricky…they’re certainly not point-and-shoot! While anyone with a decent amount of money can buy one, it doesn’t mean that simply reading the manual is going to be enough to make full use of it during a sewer inspection.

They might not have the best equipment: Sewer cameras are expensive. Well, a good sewer camera is expensive. (It’s similar to hiring a wedding photographer…if they show up with a camera that you can get at Walmart, you’re not going to be happy with your wedding photos). There are cheaper versions of sewer scopes out there, but we wouldn’t be caught with them because they just don’t let you see what you really need to see when you’re camera is down the sewer drain pipe.

They might not know what they’re looking at: We deal with sewer pipes and drains all day, every day. We know sewer lines, and we know what to look for and if there’s going to be trouble. While a home inspector deserves due respect for knowing a lot about many parts of a house, most of them aren’t familiar with what is considered “normal” in a sewer pipe.

So what’s it all mean?: If you have an erroneous reading of your sewer inspection, it could hurt you in one of two ways. First, a home inspector could miss something in your sewer drain pipe that’s about to turn catastrophic…if they miss a pipe that’s deteriorated to the point of collapse, you could be swimming in sewage weeks after you move in. On the opposing side, they could overstate perfectly natural problems that aren’t that bad and cause you to back out of a perfectly good house deal. If they see easily-removable tree roots at pipe joints and that makes you run from a deal, you might have missed out on your dream home.

Don’t have a home inspector check your sewer system. Trust the professionals who know the ins-and-out of a professional sewer camera with our sewer inspection. Trust in Garvin’s Sewer Service and give us a call today.



Why You’ll Want To Have A Sewer Inspection Before You Buy A House

Why you'll want a sewer inspection with a sewer scope before you buy a home

So you’re looking for a house…congratulations! It can be an exciting time, but as excited as you are you don’t want to rush the process and forget some very important steps.

If you’re buying a pre-existing house, you’re going to call a house inspector to check everything out. He’ll make sure the furnace works, that there’s no obvious mold, that the shingles still have life in them, and that it’s structurally sound.

So if you’re having all of the above-ground parts of the house checked out, why not the pipes that are leading your wastewater away? Having a sewer inspection done by a professional is a great way to make sure that you’re not going to have sewer problems anytime soon that are going to cause you many thousands of dollars in repair, as well as potential thousands in damage to your basement.

Legally, people have to disclose any major defects in the house before they sell it. But after you buy the house and find out that they didn’t disclose something, you’ll have to sure them, and even then the chance of you winning is small if you can’t prove that they knew about it.

So what can a sewer camera inspection do for you before you buy a house?

Find out if the sewer line is broken: This is truly the most important thing we can do for you when we bring out the sewer scope. We can send the sewer camera down and see if there are any problems that are in your future. Are there just a few bellies that are collecting water, or do you have a break in the pipe that’s letting in mud and large roots? We can tell you if the sewer pipe is on its last legs or if it looks amazingly good for having been there 50 years.

Find out if your sewers are about to back up: While a clogged sewer line isn’t necessarily a sign that it’s going to break soon, it is a good idea to get in there and find out just how much the roots are infiltrating the pipes. If it is running slow because of blockage, you can probably negotiate the with the previous owner to get it all cleaned out before the sale goes through. It’s certainly better than having your sewer back up in a few months!

Don’t judge by the age of the house: You might think that’s it’s more likely a house that’s been around 30 years would need repair more than one that’s only been around 10 years. Not always. It’s possible that the one from 30 years ago was better installed than a more newly built house…after all, not all jobs are done to the same high standards. A newer house could also suffer because the ground underneath the pipe wasn’t compacted enough, allowing it to bend more in the ground. Or perhaps the newer house had a species of tree planted above it that just wreaks havoc with sewer lines. In the end, you can’t judge the health of a sewer line based on the age of the house.

Before you buy a house, make sure to get Garvin’s out to bring the sewer camera and check the health of your future sewer line. Call today!