Sewer Camera Inspections and Clogged Drains
Minor clogs are a fairly common occurrence in a home’s plumbing, and can usually be remedied quickly and inexpensively. A major clog in your drain, however, can be caused by something underground that you can’t see without the help of a camera.
The camera allows us to take a look inside your drainpipes without having to tear up your yard or basement.
We can inspect, locate, and most of the time repair plumbing without disrupting your home.
Most sewer problems are caused by inadvertent gunk, debris, or elements (like a child’s toy) getting caught inside your pipes.
Our homes’ drains tend to be overlooked simply because they are “out of sight, out of mind.” Sewer lines are an extension of your home’s plumbing system. Sewer inspections aren’t expensive, but sewer repairs can be if you don’t take the time to schedule regular inspections. And for homebuyers, especially those interested in purchasing older homes, they are worth their weight in gold, uncovering hidden sewer problems that a home inspector can’t find in a typical real estate inspection.
How Do Sewer Lines Work?
The sewer pipes underneath the hundreds to thousands of homes in most neighborhoods or towns are connected to a public sewage system, while some homes—especially those in more rural areas—are served by a septic tank system. There are different types of connections depending on where you live: combined, wastewater, and stormwater.
In St. Louis City and older suburbs, the sewer system is combined. These massive, brick tunnels carry sewage and rainwater through a treatment facility. MSD’s sewer system is made up of over 9,600 miles of pipe across 520 square miles, making it the fourth largest in the United States. A total of seven wastewater treatment facilities processes about 350 million gallons of sewage a day.
In St. Louis County, the majority (87%) of homes have separate sanitary and stormwater sewer lines. The sanitary sewer lines carry wastewater from sinks, toilets, showers, and dishwashers into treatment plants that remove pollutants and disease-causing bacteria before discharging into St. Louis area waterways.
The storm water sewer lines carry rainwater from gutters, sump pumps, and yard drains to be absorbed back into the ground or to a nearby waterway.
Project Clear is a long-term maintenance and repair initiative started in 2012 that aims to improve the quality of our water and alleviate some of St. Louis’ wastewater concerns. You can learn more about the program here.
What Can a Sewer Inspection Service Uncover?
Inspection cameras are waterproof and allow professionals to see what’s happening inside pipes that are otherwise obscured—running through your backyard or under your home’s foundation, for example. These tiny, high-resolution cameras are mounted on the tip of a flexible cable, and the cable can be fed through pipes of various lengths and diameters. Pipe cameras are designed to go around even sharp bends in pipes, so they can see the entire length of most systems.
Using a monitor, the camera operator can see and diagnosis problems that may otherwise go undetected:
- tree roots
- cracks and breaks
Tree roots are one of the most common culprits of blocked sewer lines. Tree roots search for water underground and are undeterred by drainpipes in their way. Once they penetrate a pipe, seeds can seep into the line, become trapped, and cause blockages.
For homeowners, prevention is the key to keeping things running smoothly and efficiently. A sewer inspection is one of the smartest home investments you can make. Here are a few other plumbing problems a camera inspection can uncover.
A sewer line belly is a low area in a drainpipe that holds water. These sagging points in a pipe can collect debris and cause backups or drain blockages. These are more probable in cast iron or clay pipes and are typically created when an earthquake occurs, soil erodes, or a foundation settles, but can also be caused by drain pipe installation errors, such as installing without the proper pitch that allows sewage to flow with gravity. Bellies that are left undetected can cause bigger issues, like a break in your sewer line. Here are a few red flags to watch for:
- a decrease in water pressure or volume
- a sink hole or patch of extremely wet soil in your yard
- dust and/or rust in flowing water
If you notice any of these signs, contact a professional plumber immediately.
Scheduling a camera inspection of your sewer lines every 2-3 years is the only way to know for sure whether you have a belly in your pipe and to prevent bellies that have developed from becoming major issues.
To repair a sewer belly, professionals will dig up the pipe and replace the sagging section, reinforce the joints holding the pipe lengths together, and fill the ground under the pipe with the proper material to prevent future bellies from developing.
Most minor clogs in your home’s drains are caused by materials that don’t belong in a drain, such as paper, hair, grease, soap, and certain food scraps. If these minor clogs aren’t taken care of, the material can continue to build up, causing more severe blockages. A camera drain inspection can determine the severity and location of a major clog before it causes your home’s drains to back up.
Drain snakes and other routine clogged drain repair methods won’t work on a major blockage. In this case, a professional plumber will likely use water jetting to effectively break up sludge and other debris, remove tree roots, cut through hard minerals, and flush out your home’s drain system.
Cracked or Collapsed Pipes
When a sewer pipe suffers a crack, is broken, damaged, or collapsed, the water that flushes debris leaks out of the damaged sewer pipe, leaving behind the sludge and causing severe clogs. A camera inspection can determine the severity of the crack or break and pinpoint the exact location for repair.
Camera Drain Inspection Services
When you schedule a camera drain inspection with Maplewood Plumbing, we record the entire video inspection so that you’ll have a record of what our plumbing professionals found and their recommendations.
After the problem is fixed, it’s a good idea to have a follow-up sewer line inspection done to be sure the blockage has been removed and any damage has been completely repaired.
Maplewood Plumbing and Sewer has been inspecting and repairing drains for St. Louis homeowners for more than 30 years. Our family-owned business prides itself on our solid reputation in the community. Give us a call and see for yourself why our loyal customers won’t use anyone else!
We offer a one-year warranty on all parts and labor excluding washers.
We are also experts in kitchen plumbing, basement plumbing, bathroom plumbing, and tankless water heater installation.
Give us a call at 314-310-4245 or fill out the contact form here to request a bid.