Video inspection of sewer lines

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I have a sewer line that has been clogging up several times over the past 6 weeks or so, and I would like to be able to figure out exactly what's going on. I know one option is to pay someone to come out and do the video inspection, but I have heard that can be fairly expensive. Does anyone know of any less expensive ways that I can do this myself? For example, are there any tool rental places that rent the equipment to do a video inspection?
The actual situation with the sewer line is a little complicated and hard to explain. Basically, the line clogs at around 45 feet past where the sewer line runs out of the house. I know this from my own efforts at trying to unclog it and having a 50-foot snake that hits a clog at around 45 feet. I also had a plumber come out and clear the line twice in a two-week period, and both times it took about 45 feet of drain snake before they hit and cleared the clog. The town's sewer department came out and cleared the main line twice in two weeks after that, and they too agreed that the clog is out there somewhere. But everyone, including them, is unclear about exactly where my line goes and where the main line goes.
My property is one of 4 attached 2-family duplexes in a row. My proper is and end-unit duplex and my line appears to go out to the beginning of a main sewer line rather than tying into a main line that goes in both directions from where my line ties into it. My proper -- for some unknown reason -- does not have a curb vent. It is possible that it used to have a curb vent but the vent is now located under a roadway after the roadway was widened a long time ago. The other 3 attached properties have curb vents and appear to tie into the main line in a T-type fashion. The only maps the town has of where the main lines are pre-date when these buildings were built, so no main lines are shown on the map. The maps are from 1937 and the buildings were built after that.
I am not really posting this part to try to get people to figure out where the main line is, or even to try to figure out what the problem is. I'm just including that to give an idea that there is something goofy about the whole setup. That's why I would like to see if I can do some kind of low-cost video inspection of the line -- assuming that there is some way for me to do that.
And, yes, there is one tree about 40-feet down the street in front of another property and above where the main line goes. So, I suspect that is where the problem is. There are no other trees or bushes in the area.
So, the bottom line question is, does anyone know of any low-cost ways to do some kind of video inspection of the sewer line? I doubt that there is any way other than to pay someone to do it, but I thought I'd ask just in case.
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Joe
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<snip>
Most of the tool rental places here in NE Ohio rent this gear. It's not cheap, but probably cheaper than hiring a plumber to do it.
Don't have any personal experience with the gear myself, but the rental folks are usually pretty helpful.
HTH,
Paul F.
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wrote:

We had a similar problem. I think it was a crack in the original (1929) clay pipe near/under the oak tree. We had the 20 feet replaced with plastic pipe for $2900. Then we asked that the town inspect and if necessary correct the street pipe/lateral to our home that was the town responsibility. The same sewer company we hired works for the town, and the town had something in the street replaced too. So far so good, the work was only completed a few months ago. Just about every house on our street/neighborhood has had similar work done.
--
Best regards
Han
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Paul Franklin wrote:

Thanks. I took your suggestion and I called all of the tool rental places I can find in my area. Unfortunately, they all said that they do not have that type of equipment to rent. Most said it's because the cost of the equipment itself is so high, and I assume there is not enough demand for it as a rental for them to recover their costs.
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No. It's because of bozos that don't know how to use the equipment and screw it up. Ever wonder why MOST rentals don't rent welding equipment? Or if they do, they have a $5,000 deposit? Home plumbing ain't rocket surgery, but someone who understands it will ferret out a problem a WHOLE lot faster than someone who's poking around with rented equipment.
Cleanout? What's a cleanout?
Steve
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Whether or not you get to see inside the line, you are likely to need to locate the line to dig and repair it so I would concentrate on that first. If it goes under a tree 45 feet out, you do not need a video camera to fix it.
Don Young
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Why dig if the trouble is tree roots?
just buy some rock salt, mix with hot water in a washtub, and let it go down the sewer. do before going to work for the day so it can sit in the line. it will kill the roots buit not the tree, is cheap and effective. if you cant find rocksalt softener salt should work too.
ever notice how grass dies if exposed to rocksalt?
I have been doing this for over 10 years and its worked great.
do about 4 times a year, with special attention in spring just before trees leaf out.
25 pounds of rock salt is really cheap:)
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bob haller wrote:

Thanks. I already have rock salt from this past winter so I'll do that. It can't hurt. But I still may end up doing the video routine one way or another so I can see for sure what's going on.
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This begs the question, if the rock salt clears up the problem (I'm giving 2:1 odds it will), how much are you willing to spend to satisfy your curiosity?
R
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RicodJour wrote:

I am not sure about that. I called the plumbing company that I usually use and they said they don't actually do it themselves, they have an outside company do it. They gave me the name of the company that they use, but it's one of those deals where you call the guy and then he calls you back when he can. I checked out that company's website and I'll probably call them tomorrow morning and see what they say.
I am trying to get some general information here about my options and whether there are any relatively inexpensive or creative ways to get a look at the inside of the pipe on my own.
If the clog returns, my next step will probably be to ask the town if they have the video equipment and if they will do a visual check of the main line since they keep having to come out and clear whatever is causing the blockage. But, if they say they can't or won't do that, then maybe I'll pay someone to do it. If I could buy the equipment for a couple of hundred bucks (which I now know I can't), I would probably just buy it and do it on my own out of curiosity and because I could probaly use the same equipment in the future. I know that doesn't exactly answer the question, but that's the basic answer.
Now, what would really be cool would be if there was some computer techie of doing this kind of like a home-made science experiment. For example, what if I could buy some type of low-end video camera input device that I could connect to my laptop computer, and then attach that and an LED light to the end of the drain snake and take a look. I think that would be cool, but I guess that's just a dream and not a realistic option even if it would just be as an experiment.
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wrote:

did you check harbor freight?
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charlie wrote:

Thanks. I just checked and here's what I found so far:
http://search.harborfreight.com/cpisearch/web/search.do?keywordmera&Submit=Go
I have a feeling that the next time I have to get a clog cleared out in my sewer line, they're going to say they found some kind of cheap video camera in there. :-)
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Ridgid's SeeSnake Micro is fairly cheap, and it can go up to 30' with extensions, but the cost of the extensions would probably quintuple the price and you'd still be 15' short, sounds like.
R
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RicodJour wrote:

Thanks. I looked it up and here's short video they have that describes it:
http://www.ridgid.com/seesnakemicro/video /
Looks interesting, but you're probably right baout the cost and being 15-feet short etc.
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Someone flushed their little puppy down the toilet and the fire department used their camera to find him and help him out. A little boy was the one who in trying to give the baby puppy a bath in the toilet, though a good rinse would be the thing to get the soap out of his fur. Oh Boy! You didn't loose a puppy down there did you?
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Why dig if the trouble is tree roots?
just buy some rock salt, mix with hot water in a washtub, and let it go down the sewer. do before going to work for the day so it can sit in the line. it will kill the roots buit not the tree, is cheap and effective. if you cant find rocksalt softener salt should work too.
ever notice how grass dies if exposed to rocksalt?
I have been doing this for over 10 years and its worked great.
do about 4 times a year, with special attention in spring just before trees leaf out.
25 pounds of rock salt is really cheap:) Not really on topic BUT what would this do in septic system?
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Well, it certainly sounds like the tree could be the problem. Use some rock salt and kill the roots encroaching on the pipe. Google 'rock salt roots".
R
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BetaB4 wrote:

What makes you think that you can see through sewage? Video is impractical because first you would have to flush the system with clear water.
What you want is a sonar probe.
But why? You will still have a clog that has to be fixed.
Try the "roto-router" approach and maybe you'll be lucky and not have to dig up the whole thing.
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wrote:

Industry standard is the Ridgid video.

A sewer line is rarely filled. The video camera snakes have bright LED lights on the end. If you get to a point where you can't see anything, you've found the blockage, right?
R
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