As homeowners, we expect to replace our roofs, paint our homes, and maintain our landscaping. While these things are clearly seen to the eye, we tend to overlook the things we don’t see every day, namely, our pipes! When a sewer pipe problem rears its ugly head what should you do? Here are three steps to solving your sewer pipe problems.
Step 1: Get a High-Quality Sewer Video Inspection
The first step to solving your sewer pipe problems is getting a high-quality video inspection.
Low Quality V.S. High Quality | Why the cost difference?
A video inspection for a home can run anywhere from $250-$850 and for condominiums or commercial buildings, the cost can be substantially higher due to the size of the job and difficulty to reach the pipes in question. The reason for the price difference has to do with the equipment that the company is using and what they provide you with after the inspection. Some sewer cameras cost upwards of $65,000 and produce HD footage in full color and are self-leveling (the footage stays upright), hence the greater cost. Other sewer cameras can be rented from a local home repair depot for an hourly rate and produce low-quality footage, hence the lower cost. Some low-quality cameras don’t even have recording capabilities, believe it or not. Sometimes, a low cost or free sewer inspection may require the customer to purchase pipe cleaning, or the company may not even give you a copy of the video (this may be because the camera used does not have recording capabilities).
Low Quality V.S. High Quality | Key Differences
Outlined below are some key differences between what is considered a low-quality sewer camera inspection and a high-quality one.
- Poor color-quality or black & white
- Camera underwater
- The camera being pushed too fast downpipe to take notes
- Linear footage not recorded
- Branch openings not visible
- Inspection not completed due to blockage
- Often done for free as part of a conventional repair quote
- HD full-color
- The self-leveling camera stays above water
- The camera moved at a steady pace
- Linear footage recorded
- Branch openings visible
- Hydro Jetter used if necessary to remove debris and water that prohibit video inspection
- A not-to-scale drawing of a plumbing system is provided to the customer
- The customer is charged for video inspection work
Do I really need to pay for a high-quality sewer video inspection?
In one word, yes. A high-quality video inspection will be useful for both conventional plumbers and pipelining contractors to give you a quote from. The reason that a pipe lining contractor especially requires high-quality sewer video inspection is due to the nature of the work. Pipe lining is a very technical procedure, much more so than conventional replacement. The comparison of low quality to a high-quality video inspection can be likened to an X-ray as opposed to an MRI. An X-ray is limited to examining a few body conditions only, takes a few seconds to complete, and is very cheap. An MRI, on the other hand, is more versatile than the X-Ray, is used to examine a large variety of medical conditions, is much more time-consuming, and justifiably more costly. Similar to an X-ray, a low-quality video inspection often is done simply to identify obvious damage with the intent to replace the problematic pipe or clean it. A high-quality sewer video inspection, on the other hand, will provide both conventional and pipelining contractors with the details needed to prepare an accurate quote and make the necessary repairs.
What Information should a sewer video inspection include?
Pipelining Technologies, Inc. utilizes the best sewer cameras in the industry that produce clear footage and record key information regarding the problematic pipes. When performing a sewer inspection we take note of
- ALL deficiencies
- The diameter of the pipe
- Any diameter changes
- Linear footage of pipe
- The number and location of branch connections
Such information is required for creating a lining proposal as well as for installing the correct material.
A high-quality sewer video inspection will give you the power to choose which repair method you will go with – pipe lining or conventional.
Step 2: Pinpoint the Pipe Problem
Require a Plumbing Deficiency Report and Line Drawing
After you have had a video inspection done, the professional who did the work should give you a deficiency report and a not-to-scale line drawing of your drainage system. The deficiency report should call out areas in the sewer line that have cracks, tree root intrusion, channeling, blockages, and so on. You may find that the mainline has the problems and the vertical stacks have some time left before they need to be repaired or vice-versa.
Another method to pinpoint your plumbing problems would be a systematic vapor/smoke test. This is especially helpful if you smell sewer odor or sewer gas in your home or building as it can be used to identify areas where sewer gas is escaping. Learn more about sewer gas leak inspections here.
After Pipelining Technologies performs a video inspection of your plumbing system, we provide you with a copy of the video, a not-to-scale drawing of your drainage system, and a deficiency report of the problem areas in your pipes. We help our customers understand the problems in their pipes and where they exist. Next, it’s time to decide on which sewer repair method you will go with.
Step 3: Choose Pipe Repair Method
Now that you know what the problems are and where they exist in your plumbing system, it is time to consider the cost to benefit ratio of your options. For example, if the problem is isolated in a pipe under your yard, then you can make repairs conventionally and only have to replace dirt and landscaping, which will often be less expensive than pipelining. However, if you have pipes deteriorating behind your walls and under your home, pipelining will save you the thousands of dollars associated with repairing walls, repairing your concrete foundation, replacing tiles, replacing kitchens, etc.
Conventional Pipe Repair VS Pipe Lining Costs
When comparing a conventional pipe repair estimate and a pipelining estimate, remember that these quotes are not “apples-to-apples”, meaning that a conventional pipe repair estimate often does not include the cost associated with the destruction of your home or building, whereas pipe lining is minimally invasive to your property, so there are little to no repair costs that you will have to absorb afterward.
Below is a rough example of the costs of conventional pipe repair vs trenchless pipe lining for pipe repair.
Sample Conventional Pipe Repair Costs
- Conventional Repair Quote = $10,000
- Replace Hard Wood Floors = $5,000
- Repair Walls + Paint = $1,000-$3,000
- Kitchen Cabinet & Appliance Relocation/Re-installation = $2,000-$10,000
- Bathroom Remodel = $4,000-$8,000
- Hotel Room for 2 weeks to 2 months = $1,400-$5,000
Total Cost For Conventional Pipe Repair = $23,400-$35,000
Sample Pipe Lining Repair Costs
- Pipe Lining Repair Quote = $12,000
- Replace Hard Wood Floors = N/A
- Repair Walls + Paint = N/A +/- (a small access opening may be necessary)
- Kitchen Cabinet & Appliance Relocation/Re-installation = N/A
- Bathroom Remodel = N/A
- Hotel Room = N/A
Total Cost For Pipe Lining Repair = $12,000
Other factors to consider are how long the pipe repair method will take and if you will be able to stay in your home during repairs. Conventional pipe replacement can take weeks or months, whereas trenchless pipe lining can be completed in as little as one day, depending upon the service.
Questions to Consider:
- Is the “problem pipe” located under the slab, behind walls, or in the yard?
- How much destruction to your home will conventional pipe repair cause?
- How much will it cost to repair damage to finishes such as floors and walls?
- How much time will I have to spend away from home during the repairs?
- How long will the repair take?
Steps 1 & 2 will provide you with all the information you need in order to make an informed decision as to a pipe repair method.
Benefits of Pipe Lining
- Minimal destruction to floors or walls, save the costs associated with repairs
- Liner installed and repairs completed in days
- Stay in your home during repairs
- May be covered by insurance
- Increased flow capacity
- The water generally turned back on at the end of every day
- 50-year life-use expectancy
- 5 Year parts and labor warranty from Pipelining Technologies
Ready to move forward with a video inspection of your plumbing system? Give us a call at 561.853.5463 and we will be happy to assist you. You may also fill out our online form and we will contact you shortly.