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How Does a Sewer Line Plumbing Camera Work during Inspection?

What is a Plumbing Camera and What Are They Used For?

A plumbing camera is a waterproof camera head on the end of a long sturdy cable called a push rod. An image of the inside of a pipe is streamed real time back to a monitor called a controller which allows the user to see live video, make USB recordings, see a footage length, and even locate the camera under a concrete floor.

These cameras are used for viewing, inspecting, and investigating hard-to-reach areas, not just pipes. The push rod is stiff enough to push down a pipe but also flexible allowing the camera head to be maneuvered around corners into place. This enables the user to uncover issues that are otherwise undetectable from the surface.

Why Do We Need Plumbing Cameras?

Using a plumbing camera allows plumbers to identify, locate and diagnose internal problems in a pipe system. Prior to their development plumbers could only speculate on what was causing issues inside of a pipe requiring walls and floors to be opened up. Now, with the combination of a high-definition video camera and an LED light, plumbers can see most points in a pipe system quickly, easily and inexpensively.

How is a Plumbing Camera Used?

All plumbing cameras have bright LED lights on the front allowing a clear picture to be streamed up the push rod cable and back to the control box. The control box should display a bright clear picture of every feature inside the pipe, in real-time. This will allow professionals to locate the presence of roots, clogs, debris and cracks in the pipe. The presence of mud and dirty water in the pipe will limit the viewing area and picture clarity so practice and understanding of tool limitations is key to success.

Sewer line inspections are conducted by inserting the camera into the pipe system and pushed gently down the line. Using just enough force to propel the camera and stopping when resistance is encountered is critical. Too much force or “jamming the” the camera into places it doesn’t want to go will result in an expensive repair. A plumbing camera is a specialized precision tool that should be finessed into place. It is not a battering ram or drain cleaning tool. Treating the tool correctly will result in a long-life span and cheaper ownership costs.


If you have questions about which Hathorn® inspection camera will work best for you and your business, contact 905-604-7040 or email:

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