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Do I Need a Sewer Camera Inspection After a Cleaning?

Some drain cleaning companies offer a sewer camera inspection service after cleaning your sewer line. The truth is that in order to be 100% sure the line is clear of all roots, only a sewer camera inspection can see inside the line and make that determination. This does add an additional expense however, and is often unneeded, unless there is a problem or recurring problem with the line. Typically, you know that the line is clear if the following conditions are met:

 

Right Size Blades

Blades are placed on the end of the drain cleaning machine and spin along the full circumference of the sewer line in order to clear it. If 3” blades are used on a 4” pipe, it is likely the roots won’t be fully cleaned out of the line.

Strong Cable

The drain cleaning machine uses a tightly wound cable fed through the line to push the blades through. If the cable is kinked or weak, it will likely miss spots of roots. The longer the cable is threaded through the sewer line, the more weak it becomes.

For example, it will be stronger at 70 feet than at 120 feet. Therefore if you have a long sewer line, it could benefit you to install a clean out mid-line which will allow the drain cleaning machine to reach further with more strength. This is also why a drain cleaner may choose to pull a toilet rather than use another access point- it may allow them to get closer to the clog or further down the line.

Observable Drainage

If the line drains, it means that the blockage has been resolved. Again, because the line isn’t visible without the sewer camera inspection, the main clog may have been pushed through, but can get caught further down the line, or the same problem area can build up again and re-clog.

Garvin’s warranties their work because we understand this happens at times. However, if you are experiencing ongoing problems, a sewer camera inspection may be the best option in determining the cause.

Good Pipe Condition

It is often we see older sewer pipes, or pipes in remodeled homes that aren’t in the best condition. This means they could transition from cast iron pipes to clay ones, have multiple bends or dips or even have damage. The pipe condition can cause roots to not be fully cleared in the line. Every bend and pipe material change can cause a problem for the cleaning machines.

 

If root regrowth in your sewer line is causing you trouble, contact us today to learn about sewer camera inspection options and to have your line 100% cleaned of roots by our experienced drain cleaning technicians. We pride ourselves on using the right blades, best cable, industry expert knowledge and tools to get you the best results, and we stand behind our work with our 90 day service guarantee (in most cases).

Ask for more information when you call. We look forward to serving your sewer camera inspection and drain cleaning needs!

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!

 

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 ranging from Free to around $300. That is a very large range, so I will 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!