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I Think I'm Gonna Go Deep!


randynavarro
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Been doing a lot of online research; I'm probably going to diversify and jump in to scoping sewers.

I give up so much biz to those guys. Everytime I recommend the client get it done, the sewer cam guy shows up when I'm there.

Tough part is, I can't find any formal literature or "training" on the best procedures.

Anyone have any resources?

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Originally posted by randynavarro

Been doing a lot of online research; I'm probably going to diversify and jump in to scoping sewers.

I give up so much biz to those guys. Everytime I recommend the client get it done, the sewer cam guy shows up when I'm there.

Tough part is, I can't find any formal literature or "training" on the best procedures.

Anyone have any resources?

I have no resources, but I have an observation. There are a bunch of guys with those cameras in the Portland area, but only a few are worth a darn. They're the ones who have done thousands of scopes. I think that experience counts for more than training.

One other thing. Occasionally, they can't find a cleanout and there's no handy vent to use. In those cases, a plumber has to remove a toilet -- if you're not a plumber you can't pull the toilet. (At least not in Oregon.) The scopers who're also plumbers have an advantage there.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I have no resources, but I have an observation. There are a bunch of guys with those cameras in the Portland area, but only a few are worth a darn. They're the ones who have done thousands of scopes. I think that experience counts for more than training.

I think that's where I'm headed. Self-teaching.

I ponder, though, even the most experienced plumber; even after spending years in the biz repairing sewer lines, I betcha it was a whole new world for him when he got his first glimpse via sewer-cam. Almost like he was a rookie all over again. He never knew what the inside of the pipe looked like until he dug it out and busted it apart. Only experience will teach.

One other thing. Occasionally, they can't find a cleanout and there's no handy vent to use. In those cases, a plumber has to remove a toilet -- if you're not a plumber you can't pull the toilet. (At least not in Oregon.) The scopers who're also plumbers have an advantage there.

Good thoughts. Yes, I'm prepared to pull a toilet but I'll need to check the rules around that.

I know there's a franchise guy here that scopes all day long. I'm almost positive he's not a plumber.

And then there's the insurance coverage -- that may put the kabosh on the whole deal right there.

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Forget training; the guy selling you the cam will tell you all you need to know. You push the rod down the line, you watch in the camera, and you tape the whole thing to VHS. This stuff is not rocket science; it's a sewer. You'll know what you need to know after the first time.

The hassles are what Jim described. If you can't get to a cleanout, you're pulling toilets. I've gone on roofs to go down vents, but that's a real hassle. If you can't pull a toilet or go down a vent, you have to have a labor crew to dig a hole, and install a cleanout, and you're back to the plumber thing.

If none of that is a hindrance, scope away. It's easy. Dirty, disgusting, but educational and easy.

Spend the money for those big over the elbow rubber gloves.

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Yeah. Interesting thing is I've watched the franchise guy do it so many times, I've already gotten a healthy dose of informal training already!

Working the equipment is the easy part. Oh, and Kurt, this is 2007. What's VHS? DVD is in. You sound like you're doing the sewer cam yourself by the way your talking?

I'm always on the alert for the more subtle aspects of the process. For instance: what to do if you encounter a major root obstruction at 15' out and you know you need to probably go another 30' to get to the main. Do you keep going and risk getting the camera stuck?

Stuff like that.

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Originally posted by randynavarro

Working the equipment is the easy part. Oh, and Kurt, this is 2007. What's VHS? DVD is in. You sound like you're doing the sewer cam yourself by the way your talking?

The camera I've worked has the old tape thing; I've never seen one that burns a DVD. I've done it, but I don't do it by myself; I've worked w/a guy that owns the camera. If there wasn't the plumber thing in Chicago, I'd own a camera for sure.

I'm always on the alert for the more subtle aspects of the process. For instance: what to do if you encounter a major root obstruction at 15' out and you know you need to probably go another 30' to get to the main. Do you keep going and risk getting the camera stuck?

Stuff like that.

You absolutely do NOT risk going by that sort of obstruction and risk getting the camera stuck. You can find yourself w/your equipment blocking up someone else's sewer, they don't want to pay to have it fixed yet, so you get to drop about $2000 digging up their bsmt. floor, repairing the sewer main, etc., so you can get your camera back. It's like going on a roof, not tying off the ladder, the ladder tips over when your on the roof & demolishes the greenhouse window and the car in the driveway, and you're stuck on the roof watching all of it.

The "real" money in sewercam work is finding the major defect and digging to fix it. Which gets back to the thing Katen was talking about, which is you sort of need a dig crew, and a fix crew.

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The "real" money in sewercam work is finding the major defect and digging to fix it. Which gets back to the thing Katen was talking about, which is you sort of need a dig crew, and a fix crew.

Your right about that.

When I was still in Chicago I use to work for a plumbing company and at that time we needed a drainlayers license to stick anything into a clean out. Do they still enforce that in the City?

We always rented a camera when we needed one, and it not recommended to go past any obstruction, such as a small root blockage at 15'. You should pull the camera out, stick a rod in clean up the obstruction then continue on. So I don't know if those other companies you talk about carry a rodding machine with them, to fully inspect the line, or do they just stick the camera in for show?

I guess what I'm try to say a camera is a major expense and could be economical for a sewer repair company, but just for strictly home inspections I think just subbing it out to a plumber is the way to go.

I guess if you feel this is a good revenue source for your business, and in your area HI's are offering this service, then maybe it's a good idea, but in my area I have to worry about jurisdiction laws. Plus getting a homeowner to agree with a sewer line inspection, as part of a real estate deal. Also do you think your insurance might go up if your inspecting sewers?

Frank

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You can always play the role of GC, using your past contacts to get a foot hold in the field and punting if further work needs to be done. Form an alliance with a few key plumbing contractors and always include the "me too clause" in the pricing.

This type of thing is second nature for those that have been in the contracting business.

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Originally posted by Bain

How well do those cams work on cast-iron drains? Isn't it difficult to see small cracks and similar problems due to gunk and build-up?

You can see all that stuff with amazing clarity *if* you know how. Heck, you can count the hairs on the tails of the rats that are down there. The skill takes some time to acquire. I encourage my customers to schedule the sewer scoping at the same time as the inspection so I see a lot of them. There's one guy in my area who's particulary adept at reading these things. He picks out tiny details and explains exactly what they mean. Watching him do several dozen of these scopings is what convinced me that I couldn't do it well without a whole lot of practice.

On one house, I had been running lots of water through the system before he arrived. Everything was working fine and draining well. I wouldn't have guessed that there was a problem. When he stuck the camera into the drain line, his screen went black. I though that the scope's light had failed but no, it was working fine. The pipe was completely full of water that was pitch black and nearly opaque. What do you say when that happens? He asked me what I thought. I guessed that he must have disturbed a nest of squid that were living down there. (That was not a correct guess. It seems that squid don't actually live in sewer pipes.) In this case it was because the sewer pipe was completely blocked and the water was managing to drain out through the joints. The water that remained in the pipe became blackened from the long contact with the cast iron.

-Jim Katen, Oregon

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This just in:

My customer from today's inspection said that his sewer scope found (starting at the house): terra cotta, cast iron, then concrete sewer pipes before the line joined the public sewer. There were bellies that were completely full of water, openings up to 4" wide between pipe sections and lots of roots in the pipe. Here's the kicker: the house (and the whole neighborhood) was built in 1971. I figured that all 1971 stock would've had just cast iron.

Oh yes, for the first time I've ever heard of, the movie was delivered on a DVD. The sewer guy wore out his old VHS machine and got a new DVD burner.

If I ever get into this gig, I'm gonna just upload the video to You Tube and send the customer a link.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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  • 3 weeks later...

You can call the sewer scoping contractor, also called a pipe inspection service, shows up with a very long coiled metal hose that has a tiny video camera at the end.

The camera view is classically visible on a video screen close to the main utensils, and many services record the entire scoping on videotape for the home buyers.

My friend you can take help from scoping contractor or if you want training then you can search from the site which is very helpful for the purpose of sewer scoping. Believe me my friend this site is very helpful.

http://www.visaliacaplumbers.com/

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A sewer scoping is a way to inspect the sewer line from the interior of the home to the main line in the street. The sewer scoping contractor shows up with a very long, coiled metal hose that has a tiny video camera at the end. He or she finds a starting location in the home and snakes the hose through the sewer system, from the home to the street. I have gone to the site visaliacaplumber and this is relevant site which solves plumbing issues and services.

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