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What Type of Sewer Inspection Camera Should I Buy?

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

Sewer Pipe Inspection Cameras

Sewer Pipe Inspection Cameras are commonly used by contractors, plumbers, inspectors, and engineers. The tool is vital for professionals to inspect unreachable areas behind walls, inside drains, and more.

However, choosing the right sewer pipe inspection camera is essential to maximizing the tool’s effectiveness and minimizing time on site.

What should I consider when purchasing a sewer inspection camera?

Let’s look through our lens of expertise and uncover what sewer pipe inspection camera might be the right fit for you!

  • You should always buy the biggest camera head you can for the job that you’re doing. Simply put, it will last longer and provide more LED light. It’s common knowledge that a 1” camera head will not perform as well in a 4” pipe as a 1.5” camera.

  • The camera should be waterproof with stainless steel casing. This is standard when buying a quality brand made in North America. Cheap imitations from Asia are likely not waterproof. Not very much use in a wet pipe.

  • Straight view heads are cheaper than self-leveling heads, but they do not level the picture. It’s personal preference really and most people opt for the self-leveling option.

  • All cameras should come with a 512Hz sonde for locating. Ensure that anything you look at has this standard and walk away from those that don’t have one.

Camera Reel and Push Rod
  • Push rods are available from 100 to 500 feet. The one you choose should be short enough so to not add extra weight, but long enough to handle your day-to-day work. It’s always advisable to buy one with extra length to allow for future repairs.

  • Ask what material the push rod jacketing is made of. HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) is recommended for durability. PE (Polyethylene) and PP (Polypropylene) are softer and will wear our more quickly. They are also likely to suffer ore kinks and repair costs.

  • Push rods are available in various thickness and stiffnesses. The thickness of the rod is usually determined by the size and weight of the camera head to ensure proper performance. As with camera heads always buys the thickest camera head you can. It will last longer and allow you to push farther down the pipe with less chance of kinking. The downside to large push rods is that they don’t perform as well around small bends, and they are heavy. There is a balance to be struck.

  • Your camera reel should be made of butt-welded steel. Steel is stronger than plastic and aluminum. Those materials are ok for lightweight tools but do not perform well in larger push reels. Remember that over 75% of the weight of the tool is in the push rod itself so saving a few pounds on the reel material will make little difference to the overall weight and set you up for a bent or cracked frame down the road.

  • The screen should give you a clear picture of the area you are inspecting. Always opt for a “daylight readable”. You will thank yourself for upgrading if you work outside in direct sunshine. Not more squinting or casting a shadow over the scree to see what you’re doing.

  • Your controller should be able to record to a USB thumb drive. This is industry standard and required for file submission by insurance companies and municipalities. SD cards are now old technology and reflect the obsolescence of the technology inside the controller. They also add a step to your file submissions by requiring you to use a laptop to convert the file to USB.

  • Files should always be saved in MPEG. Recording in AVI format will reflect the obsolescence of the technology inside the controller. AVI files are no longer supported by many devices and are out of compliance with NASSCO guidelines.

  • Often modern inspection cameras are equipped with keyboards which is helpful, allowing you to type notes during inspections. This isn’t a requirement but a nice option to have.

While these are important components to consider when buying your own sewer pipe inspection camera, your specific needs and budget will drive many decisions. Make sure to call your rep or the manufacturer to have a discussion on what your company needs. Not all tools are created equal, and your company is unique in what it does. The tool you purchase should reflect your needs and uniqueness as well.


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

Check out previous Hathorn Blogs:

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