A Free Sewer Service That Could Save You Thousands Of Dollars: Sewer Camera Review


Sewer scope review is a free sewer service we provideThere’s an idea that’s been brewing in my head for many years…it’s a car mechanic that doesn’t fix cars. Let’s call him Phil.

Now, here’s the idea. Imagine you have a regular mechanic and he says “what you need is a $1,200 repair.” Then you take it to Phil, and he says “yep, that’s about right.” Or “nope, replace that gasket for $150 and you’re in the clear.” Phil charges you $50 but has saved you a $1,000. Basically, Phil is a neutral third party who can give you the truth and end up saving you lots of money.

This type of second-opinion would be great in the medical industry too…far too many doctors have a stake in the medical equipment that they’re ordering tests on.

In one respect, Garvin’s Sewer Service already has a service that fits this model: our free inspection of sewer camera footage that was taken by other companies.

While many reputable sewer companies use sewer scopes, there are some companies out there who will take the footage and point out perfectly normal flaws in your sewer line, then suggest that these small flaws mean you need a complete sewer line replacement. They might show you a joint and suggest that it’s a break, or show you tree roots as “evidence” that your sewer line in in bad repair (when in fact it’s a fairly normal occurrence).

We provide this free sewer cam second opinion because we don’t want you spending $10,000 to replace a line that’s perfectly fine. And since we don’t replace entire sewer lines, you can rest assured knowing that we’re unbiased.

Do you have a sewer scope DVD from another company and would like a free second opinion? Contact Garvin’s Sewer Service today!



The Worst Movie You’ll Ever Watch: Say Hello To The Sewer Scope!


video_ctaHave you ever seen a movie that you thought was garbage? That’s what we watch every day!

The sewer scope is a camera at the end of a cable. It’s fed down your main sewer line so that we can see exactly what’s going on in your sewer system. From it we can tell many things:

The tree root situation: Interestingly enough, seeing tree roots in a sewer line is pretty normal. The tree roots will come in (usually at the joints of the pipes) while they’re looking for water and nutrients. While a few tree roots are normal, it’s when the roots start spooling and knotting that problems occur, not only blocking the removal of sewage themselves but also catching some of it and clogging the main line.

Depending on the amount of roots we see, and if they’re prone to collecting other blocking material, the plan of attack might be to Roto-root those roots right out of there. Don’t worry, the tree remains unharmed because it’s getting most of its water and nutrients from the rest of its vast root system.

Breaks: While the tiny cracks at joints that let roots in might not be cause for alarm, a break in the sewer line certainly is. At first you may have a foul sewer smell in your basement, and then your lawn, since that means the sewage isn’t reaching the city line. The best way to tell if you need an entire sewer line replacement is with the sewer scope, which can easily tell if your problems is a broken line.

If the line isn’t broken, then we’ll of course look for other situation that could be causing your problem. Either way, the sewer scope can help us know exactly what your problem is. When you need help, give Garvin’s a call!


Video sewer scope services from Garvin's Sewer Service

How much does a sewer scope inspection cost?

Video sewer scope services from Garvin's Sewer ServiceWe get calls from a variety of people looking for a sewer scope inspection, which can also be called a sewer snake or a sewer camera inspection. And people really have different reasons for wanting one. The main reasons we see are addressed in the blog post “The Value of a Sewer Camera Inspection in a New Home Purchase”.

In Denver, we have heard industry prices for a sewer scope inspection costs ranging from Free to around $300. That is a very large range, so I’ll break down the differences from our perspective.

Free Sewer Scope Inspections.

We found some companies either offer Free sewer scope inspections for a few reasons:

  1. It sounds like this: “We clean your sewer line and then to prove to you that we did a good job, we will send the sewer camera down the line to show you.”

Our problem with this is that, if you can’t trust them to clean it correctly, then why did you hire them to begin with? ALSO, see point number 2.

  1. It is an opportunity for an “upsell” to other sewer cleaning services. Most sales profit-driven companies know that most homeowners are not aware of what their sewer lines look like and because of this, can tell them there is something wrong with the sewer line. When they do a sewer scope inspection for free, they are looking for a problem to “solve” with the help of your lack of understanding and your fat wallet.
  2. They don’t give you a copy of the DVD without a charge that makes them now enter into the Mid to High Priced range.

Mid-range ($150+) and High Priced (300+). (for 2015)

We put these in the same category because there is not a ton of difference here in what is being offered.

Understand that a sewer camera is an expensive piece of equipment and the repairs are also costly and time-consuming as they usually have to be sent out for repairs. This is what you, as a consumer are paying for when you hire for a sewer scope inspection- that and expertise.

Anyone can run a sewer camera, but not everyone is equipped to interpret what is being seen. Be sure to hire a reputable company (ones that have been in business a long time, or have online reviews or awards that corroborate their skill.)

Keep these tips in mind when you call for a sewer scope inspection:

  1. Ask them their price. If they want to send someone out first to quote you, you will likely be charged a service call charge or the technician will attempt to sell you the service, typically at the High Priced range. Why do we say this? Because the costs involved in sending out a technician need to be recouped somehow. This is not bad, it is a business practice that is chosen by the owner or management. It is why the price can, and usually is, higher.
  2. Ask them if they are going to provide a copy of the DVD and if that is included in the price. Some companies offer the service for a low cost and then charge extra for the DVD.
  3. Be informed about what you will be looking at. This BLOG on Sewer Scope Scams will help with that.
  4. Never feel pressured to take quick action. You have a right to a second opinion. Many city sewer and water departments will take a free second look at your DVD (which is why it’s good to have a copy.)

If you have any questions about sewer scope inspection costs or are interested in a free second look at your DVD, please call Garvin’s at (303) 571-5114 and ask for Mitch.

The Value of a Sewer Camera Inspection in a New Home Purchase

gavin-van_compressedThere are three main reasons Garvin’s Sewer Service thinks are valid for sewer scope (aka sewer snake, aka sewer camera) inspections. We frankly get frustrated when we hear other companies do these on a regular basis because we see homeowners being sold something they don’t need based on the infrequency, and therefore lack of education, about what a sewer camera inspection is designed for: home purchase, known sewer problems and homeowner preference.

First, a sewer camera is an expensive piece of equipment. The repairs are costly and most damage is caused on the camera head. This damage is limited by proper use by a trained technician. As with every other business, the costs of the equipment and repairs are passed onto the customer. This is why Garvin’s Sewer Service keeps their prices low by not running the camera at every job site.

Reason One: A New Home Purchase

The first main reason to consider a sewer scope inspection is due to a home purchase. In the transaction of Real Estate, a typical home inspection does not include a sewer camera inspection. And, because a sewer repair or replacement can range from $3500 to tens of thousands of dollars, paying around $200 for the peace of mind of knowing the condition of the sewer is important. We also highly recommend in the home purchase transaction that the home BUYER pay for the inspection and not the home SELLER.

If, as a home seller, you recently had a sewer scope inspection done and know the following, then you can provide a copy of the DVD to the buyer showing:

  1. The line is in good condition
  2. The home has been occupied since the inspection
  3. No sewer line back-ups or ground shifts have occurred since the sewer camera inspection was performed

Remember, there are laws about disclosing information about a property and it is illegal to provide inaccurate information in the home purchase transaction. It is for this reason Garvin’s Sewer Service suggests the buyer request and perform the inspection.

Reason Two: A Known Sewer Line Problem

The second reason to get a sewer camera inspection is when the sewer line has been cleaned and is very problematic. There is no value in cleaning a sewer line that is still backed up, as you won’t be able to see anything. Additionally, you want to know what is causing the blockage before you determine if the sewer line needs a repair or replacement.

If the sewer line is blocked by concrete, falling apart or completely sealed and compacted with waste, a section of the line may need to be removed. However, if the line is simply blocked by roots and common non-flushables, you can simply have a sewer cleaing and the added expense of a sewer camera inspection isn’t needed.

Garvin’s Sewer Service has seen some companies charge several hundred dollars to clean a sewer line and then perform a sewer camera inspection to “show you it was cleaned sufficiently”. What we have found to be true is that these companies charge the extra money to put in their pockets (the line better be cleaned sufficiently if they are professionals, and if you don’t trust them to clean it well, why did you hire them to begin with?), and they use the opportunity to use the homeowners lack of knowledge to sell an unnecessary sewer line repair.

Reason Three: Homeowner Preference

If you just have a general curiosity and don’t mind spending the money to get a good look at your sewer line, then do. Garvin’ Sewer Service simply wants you to make an educated choice rather than being subject to sales pitches for less than helpful reasons. When you do get the sewer scope inspection done, we would love to be the providers of that service. And if not, we do offer free second looks at the DVD to help you interpret what you are seeing. You can also check out this BLOG for more info on what you are seeing and can expect to see in a sewer camera inspection.

As always, feel free to contact Garvin’s Sewer Service at 303-571-5114 with any questions or comments on your new home purchase and the sewer camera inspection.

Sewer Scope SCAM

We have heard from a few people lately who feel they were caught in a Sewer Scope Scam
sewer repair_ctaThis would include what is called a Sewer Replacement Scam, Video Sewer Scope Scam, Sewer Snake Scam, or Sewer Camera Scam.

Here are some red flags to look for if you are worried you are being or have been scammed:

1. You are not allowed to have a copy of the video that was taken without an additional charge.

If you have your line scoped (video camera inspection performed), and you paid for that service, it should include a copy of the DVD. You are free to take this DVD and use it to get a second opinion. Call your local Sanitation Department, or another sewer company and ask if they will watch the DVD and give a second opinion. This should cost little to nothing.

2. You are pressured to make an immediate decision.

The pain of having a sewer line that is not functioning is significant enough without the pain of being pressured into a large purchase. Most sewer replacements and sewer repairs we have heard about lately have been between $3500-$25,000. This is a HUGE hit to any budget. Make a quick decision, but make it after you have gotten a second and even third opinion.

3. You haven’t ever had a sewer issue, or this is your first sewer issue.

Rarely have we seen a sewer line that backs up once and is broken. Usually there is a troubling, on-going problem. There are, however, times when there were no problems and the ground settled, or roots built up slowly and systematically until nothing could get through. There are times that preventative maintenance could have kept something in check, that is now a massive problem. Sometimes, it is hard to get through the line and a suggestion is made to replace the area of pipe that is clogged. The price and headache to continue laboring to remove the clog should be checked against that of replacing the line.

4. All your neighbors (or some of your neighbors) had their sewer lines replaced.

Peer pressure is no reason to get a sewer line replaced. Just because someone tells you that your neighbor needed a new sewer line, doesn’t mean you need to. Unless the neighborhood is sitting on a sinkhole, or part of a class action suit against the builder, get a specific look at your own line and determine if the need is there. Would you get a cast on your arm if your neighbor broke theirs?


Have more questions? Contact the Denver-area sewer cleaners who believe in integrity. Give Garvin’s Sewer Service a call today!


Simplify Simplify Simplifying our drain and sewer cleaning services


I put this word on my vision board this year and had no idea how it would come about other than to remind me to say “no” more.

And for those of you waiting to hear — HERE IS MY BIG NEWS:

I decided to simplify, get back to basics and close down the plumbing department for restructuring.

For years Garvin’s has offered Sewer Cleaning and Plumbing services. Our drain cleaning department has usually had around 18 technicians and generates about 80% of our revenue. Our Plumbing Department has usually been about 5 technicians and has generated less than 20% of our revenue. To be absolutely honest, we have run in the red in our Plumbing Department for most months in the last 5 years (I can’t speak to the time before I began and have never seen those financials).

We also have had 5 managers in that department during the same time. This has been mostly because, in my opinion, we never set a sound foundation — no goals, no clear strategies — frankly, it has been mismanaged and has not producing the level of skill and service our drain-cleaning customers had come to expect over the last 70 plus years.

And so, we are currently handling the following types of work:

As usual: Residential and Commercial Drain Cleaning and Sewer Scopes of all kinds


Toilets: Replacing wax rings, installing a toilet (including removing/replacing an existing one), toilet leaks, inside the tank issues, toilet seats and handles, supply lines and shut offs on the toilets

Sinks: Replacing pop-ups, p-traps and any pipes that can be seen

Kitchen Sinks: Install or replace disposal, p-traps and any pipes that can be seen and basket strainers

Water Heater replacements

Clean out installations will be on a case by case basis


Look for our New & Improved Plumbing Department re-launch in 2015!


Of course, if you have any questions about this change, or have comments, please contact our main office at 303. 571. 5114


Kris Jordan, GM

Why do I need a sewer scope?

sewer repair_ctaWhat are the reasons for sewer scoping?

There are several reasons why people would do a sewer scope (also known as a sewer camera or sewer snake), here are a few of them:

  • Purchasing a home
    • Because a sewer scope is not included in a normal home inspection, it must be requested and done separately and is very important
    • You want to ensure the condition of the line is healthy to avoid a huge repair bill in the future
  • Have recurring problems with a particular line and would like to see what the main culprit is
    • Maybe root growth causing backups every fall, and the backups are now more frequent
    • Suddenly, the bath tub is taking way too long to drain
    • Problems have resulted from other service people performing work on or in the house
    • Someone tried to clean the pipe and can’t get through the line
  • Curiosity
    • Some people just want to see what their line looks like

*A note about pre and post cleaning scoping, in our humble opinion.

  • Pre-cleaning sewer scoping
    • Not recommended, because you can’t see anything when a sewer is backed up
    • For example, submerge a camera into murky water and you’ll see why it’s not recommended
  • Post-cleaning sewer scoping
    • The point of this would be to prove that the work was actually completed. If you need reassurance, then perhaps you have the wrong contractor. Warrantying the work is typically a less expensive option.

With other questions about sewer cameras, please call our trained staff at 303-571-5114. We would be happy to answer all of your questions.

How Much Does Sewer Scoping Cost?

video_ctaUse of a sewer scope (also knowing as a sewer snake or sewer camera) can range from free to $400 in the greater Denver Metro area.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why you would pay $400 instead of $0.

Most of the time, companies that offer it on the lower end, it’s because they are looking for upsell opportunities, which are very easy to obtain.

The high range usually includes coming back out a second time, which is necessary in certain cases.

Example: Property seller Johnny Johnson is selling his home to interested home buyer Sally Sue. Sally Sue gets a video scope of the sewer lines and it appears to her that there is significant problem where it meets the city sewer and she wants it taken care of. The technician lets her know there is root growth at tap. Johnny Johnson decides to perform repair of a pipe before he sells the house to Sally Sue. Johnny Johnson hires a crew to fix the problem and re-scopes the line to prove to Sally Sue that the pipe is free and clear, and restored. Sally now has the photos and video for her records.

In our article, the Red Flags of Sewer Scopes, you can read about things to watch for to avoid a scam when choosing who will perform this service.

It sounds so simple, why does it cost so much?

The sewer camera equipment is very expensive, costing between $7,000 and $12,000 and requires frequent costly repairs. Properly trained technicians are best at diagnosing true problems and being able to explain to you the results of the scoping.

The general process:

Put the camera down the line, the camera takes live video, and it also snaps still photos to document the situation.

The camera is on the end of a long cable and has a small aperture, which can make small things look very big.

What can the video and still photos from the sewer scope be used for?

  • Real estate negotiations
  • Court of law
  • Your own records

Red Flags of Sewer Scope Inspections

garvins_cta3With sewer line repairs starting at $3500 and replacements costing upwards of tens of thousands, spending just a couple hundred dollars for a sewer scope (aka sewer camera) inspection is a good investment. This is especially true in property transactions and in homes with problematic sewer systems.

However, it is important to know what we call “red flags” of sewer scope inspection. These will help you to be sure that your inspection is being adhered to ethically:

  1. You receive an offer that sounds too good to be true. Maybe it is deeply discounted or even  a complimentary offer for a sewer scope inspection. We have found that in many of these cases, the company finds a justifiable reason to do a repair/ replacement to make up for the reduced cost.
  2. You get a routine cleaning done, or have a clog, and the company tells you they need to jackhammer the floor/ replace or repair the line, and you feel hostage or pressured into making a quick decision.
  3. If the line is full of water, you are not able to see what the problem is- so if you are told, “It’s broken”, and the line isn’t opened enough to drain, get a second opinion, it might not be.
  4. If they use the sewer scope when you are not present, be sure it is actually your line you are looking at. If you are only seeing a 30-second video clip, it is possible you are not even looking at your own line or problem.
  5. Remember that the sewer scope has a small lens and this may cause problems to look bigger than they are. Don’t be alarmed by seeing roots in your line- these are common and can be cleaned out. Don’t confuse joints with breaks. A small belly isn’t always the cause for a repair. If in doubt, get a second opinion.
  6. Finally, if the company can not, will not or charges you extra for a copy of your DVD, this is a red flag —they don’t want you to get a second opinion! Your local sanitation department or Garvin’s can look at the DVD for free.

For more information, tips or questions, give us a call! (303) 571-5114

"Your Sewer Scope Saved Us Over $8500!"

drain_ctaYou take your car into the shop. The mechanic notices you need an oil change —he recommends a new engine. That’s one solution, but another solution is to do an oil change. We believe in preventative maintenance over replacement. However, we recognize there are times for replacement. Our goals is to give you the options that others may be relunctant to. Here is the testimonial from our client in Westminster, CO:

“Just “thank you” for your excellent advice and serivce does not seem sufficient enough. Your company saved us $8659 from being scammed into major excavation work on our property. After talking with Mitch regarding our problem, we were certain that we wanted your company’s advice and [2nd] opinion.

We were very impressed with your serviceman who did an excellent job with the drain cleaning and explaining what we were seeing as the camera went through the sewer line. He also gave us the sewer scope DVD showing the condition of the sewer. We were advised that our sewer did not need work beyond what was done on the day your compay inspected it. We would not even consider using anyone else but Garvin’s in the future and we will continue letting others know of the service you provide.

It is a pleasure working with people of your knowledge and integrity.


Daniel & Evelyn”

We’ve survived in the Denver area for over 70 years based on our integrity, so on behalf of Garvin’s Sewer Service, you’re welcome!