Tight Squeezes: Inspecting Pipes By Size

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Evan Mowbray

Tight Squeezes: Inspecting Pipes By Size

Video pipe inspection, also known as CCTV pipe inspection, involves sending a camera system through a pipe to determine potential issues and blockages. It’s no secret that a lot of what goes into a pipe, whether it should go into a pipe or not, can block flow and damage the internal structure, so it’s important to inspect them. Pipes can come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, go in multiple directions, and pass through and under existing buildings and infrastructure. Let’s discuss the difference between televising both large and small pipes to ensure issues are properly examined and recorded.

An image of Trinity Subsurface sewer televising technician John controlling a video pipe inspection crawler from a mobile van computer system.

Sanitary and storm sewers are pretty common when it comes to performing video pipe inspections. They range in a multitude of sizes ranging from around 3 inches at the smallest to multiple feet at their largest. For a 6” diameter sewer pipe (without any turns) to anything larger than a 8” diameter sewer pipe (with turns), a video pipe inspection crawler is the recommended inspection method. A robotic crawler can examine the pipe with a rotating camera head, allowing for the camera operator to view joints, cracks, cross-bores and manholes from within the pipe with ease. They can also be operated remotely, either from a tablet or computer. “Well,” you may ask, “what about laterals?” Lateral pipes are much smaller by comparison to the sewer main, making them seem like a challenge to inspect. Certain crawlers, known as lateral launch crawlers, can shoot out the camera from the main crawler and into the lateral pipe. It’s sort of like a harpoon, where you can shoot it out and reel it in with a tether. This makes for a bit more limited movement of the camera while in the lateral, but allows the technician to scan for defects and blockages in areas that may seem out of reach.What about smaller pipes? Well, similar to the lateral launch crawler shooting a camera into a lateral, we can push a smaller inspection camera through a pipe. This is known as a camera reel system or push camera: a camera attached to a reel of cable similar to a hose. That being said, this may seem like a simple camera attached to a hose to the outside observer, and to that… you’d mostly be right. Mostly.

An image of the inside of a pipe captured using a push camera system.

First, they’re often built-in with a rotation control system to ensure the video is always upright, which is important to determine damages within pipes. The camera isn’t spinning the entire time and it’s not disorienting to make sense of what you’re looking at. Second, they record footage in a high quality to view potential issues during both the initial inspection from a tablet and while reviewing the footage in the future. Third, these cameras can get pretty small and fit into tight areas, usually able to fit within 3” to 4” diameter pipes. While they’re not as capable in providing a full range of motion to get the entire view of the pipe compared to a pipe crawler, they’re still an incredibly useful tool within these smaller spaces.If you’re in need of a video pipe inspection, our team at Trinity Subsurface can help determine blockages, damages and potential repairs. Visit more of our website to find out how you can schedule us for your sewer televising needs.

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