Choosing the Right Snake Camera for Sewer Inspection

by | Dec 13, 2021 | Blog, News

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Snake Camera for Sewer Inspection

Raise your hand if you consider choosing the right snake camera for sewer inspections an impossible feat. Since you found this blog, your hand must be up.  Smile, it’s OK. You’re not the only one that has spent hours on the internet looking at website, making phone calls and sewer camera reviews. We hope that this sewer camera information is helpful in making your inspection camera choice.

Most contractors and small business have had to deal with their fair share of disappointments when they splurge on the wrong product. Especially, when it was at the wrong price.  We eliminate those risks by teaching you how to buy an inspection camera that delivers the desired results. The key is to scrutinize and examine your viable options before the investment is made.  It also important for you to decide on features, the ‘Bells and Whistles’ of the sewer camera.  As a decision maker you first have to understand the decision of a ‘want’ and a ‘need’ with your sewer camera.

For example, who of us would not like to have heated and air-conditioned seats, heated steering wheel, massaging seats and 14-inch interactive navigation screen on our vehicle?  All of us would!  As a decision maker in the business, we understand that a vehicle with standard features may meet the requirements of the business and customers as well as be within the budgetary requirements.    We may decide that those are a ‘want’ items and not necessarily a ‘need’ item for us or our business.  It’s the same for your sewer camera inspection camera.

However, after careful consideration you may decide that the advanced features and the ‘nice to have’ features will make the inspection task easier and more advantageous for the customer.

With all that being said there are some common and important questions that professionals ask when considering an inspection camera:

  1. What is the Best Sewer Camera?
  2. What is the Cheapest Sewer Camera?
  3. How to Care for a Sewer Camera?
  4. How long does a Sewer Camera Battery last?
  5. What Mistakes to Avoid when using a Sewer Camera?
  6. Why use a Sewer Camera?
  7. Do I need an Explosion Proof Camera?
  8. How to Use a Sewer Camera?
  9. Can I get 100 foot inspection camera that will meet all my requirements?
  10. Do I need a WIFI sewer camera?

Here are some tips for choosing the right camera for sewer inspections:

1. Create a Game Plan

Making a checklist is the most important tip for choosing the right snake camera for sewer inspections.  It accelerates your search and helps narrow your options when you know exactly what you’re looking for. You can then use that information to find a diagnostic tool that aligns with your requirements.

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • What is the ideal size of the inspection camera for your project?

(Common camera head size range from 10mm-40mm with the most common being 25mm).

  • What length camera push rod do I need, do I need a long length camera or will a standard length sewer camera suffice?
  • Can your inspection camera fit into the entryway and easily move in the pipeline?
  • Is your camera wand or push rod designed to navigate 90 degree bends in the pipe?
  • What type of environmental elements will your camera get exposed to?
  • Do I require an inspection camera that delivers a high image resolution?
  • What is the product warranty?
  • Does it match my budget?
  • Can I get reliable and fast sewer camera repair service?

Your answers can lead to a worthwhile investment and save you a lot of time and money. Always make sure that you correspond with reputable sewer camera retailers when you buy an inspection camera. Otherwise, you wind up with shoddy devices and poor after sales service that only cause headaches.

Wöhler VIS 700 HD-Video Inspection System

2. Ideal Display Size and Image Resolution

Despite popular belief, larger display screens are not better for sewer inspections. That’s right, bigger is not always better.  Large display screens can lead to poor image resolutions without the right features. Likewise, small display screens do not show high-quality images regardless of the image resolution.    That is not to say that there aren’t some large screen sewer cameras that provide the best image sewer camera can offer.    Normally the small visual screens on sewer cameras may appear to offer a good image but many find them difficult to make good business decisions on the next steps to take.

In both cases, the mismatched features only lead to unsatisfactory images that hinder your decisions during the inspection.

Here are a few other things to remember:

  • Investigate larger screens because many offers low quality images if you don’t have a high-resolution camera and HD sewer camera
  • Make sure that the final image is not too pixelated. This is important not only for the image on that is viewed on the screen but also what is saved on the SD card.
  • Does the sewer camera offer focusing capabilities or only zoom features? Image Zoom is not the same as focusing.
  • Does the sewer camera system offer auxiliary lighting? Sometimes the built-in lighting is not enough for larger pipe inspections.

Lastly, when it comes to sewer camera inspections, we suggest that you consider what you’re actually trying to identify.   Do you really need an expensive sewer camera to identify a tree root invasion or blockage in a 4-inch pipe or will a cheap sewer camera suffice?

3. Select Cameras with Proper Lighting and Camera Viewing

Snake cameras with LED lights improve navigation in unlit inspection sites.  You can easily locate the LED lights on the front of the sewer camera.   The LED lights usually surround the image sensor (Micro Camera) at the tip of the camera.

When it comes to sewer lines and plumbing projects, it becomes a must-have quality for your diagnostic tool.

The challenge becomes that many pipe inspection professionals are looking for an ‘one size fits all’ pipe camera inspection system but it doesn’t exist.    The inspection camera that you would utilize to inspect a 1-inch diameter pipe although would absolutely fit into a 12 inch pipe would not provide enough lighting to sati factually complete the inspection.   Mainly because the small diameter inspection camera could not provide enough lighting.   For most applications it is safe to say that the larger the inspection camera, the more lighting.  For example, a 2 inch diameter sewer camera will provide much more light output than a 6mm diameter push camera.

It is really quite simple; the larger diameter inspection camera systems will provide much more lighting output than the smaller diameter camera heads.   However, a point to make is that some inspection camera systems will have optional auxiliary light rings that will attach to the camera heads.   These inspection camera lights will provide the necessary illumination for the camera heads to light up the larger pipe inspection areas.

There are also some sewer camera roller skid that will not only keep the sewer camera centered inside the inspection area but also provide additional lighting.     You can also purchase an optional sewer camera skid that will keep your sewer camera centered inside the pipe that will utilize the built-in lighting to view the inspection area.

This sewer camera centering guide will also assist in keeping your sewer camera above any liquid or debris that may be at the bottom of the pipe.

Your LED lights should:

  • Have sufficient battery power to last for extended inspections
  • Feature the ability to adjust the LED light output

While most sewer cameras provide straight viewing there are systems that provide advanced features such as pan and tilt features.    There is the Wohler pan and tilt inspection camera system and other larger diameter pan and tilt camera systems.   For the pan and tilt camera options there are many to choose form:

  1. Wohler 6352
  2. Wohler 7354
  3. Wohler 8927
  4. Wohler 8931
  5. Wohler 7802
  6. Wohler 7498
  7. MinCam 360
  8. Pan and Tilt Push Camera

There are also systems that offer a self-leveeing sewer camera head.  What Does Self-Leveling Camera Mean?  Self-leveling can be described as the ability of the camera head to level itself irrespective of the angulation to which the sewer camera is tilted. Self-leveling is widely used in pipe inspection cameras such as axial and push rod cameras.   This allows the sewer camera inspector to always know which part of the pipe is at the 12 o’clock (top) position.  It also means that the image seen on the color screen will always be in the upright position.   Many inspection camera professionals prefer this option as it makes the inspection process faster and easier to determine problem areas.

The Opticam Sewer Camera offers a self leveling camera head with a small 1.3 inch diameter.

This unique system is available in various lengths.   The most popular is the 200 foot long inspection camera.  But this customizable inspection camera is also available in 300 and 400 feet lengths.   A long length inspection camera may sound appealing, but if you only require a 50- or 100-foot system then the remainder of the probe becomes dead weight to haul around.   And in the long run, you invested money in a long length inspection camera that you didn’t need to.

4. Flexibility vs. Rigidity: What Is More Important?

Most snake cameras for sewer inspections and plumbing services feature rigid camera pipes. These push cameras are designed with camera reels that are designed to go long and far.  Having this feature improves its sturdiness. These camera probes are less likely to get worn out after repeated use as long as they are not forced to navigate hard bends in the pipes or are used in abrasive pipes such as cast iron.

You wouldn’t think that needs to be said, but it does.  Your push camera system is not a deburring tool or a device to dislodge a clog.   You have an inspection camera that is designed to identify problems.   You have other tools that are designed to resolve these issues.

However, too much stiffness makes maneuvering the inspection camera challenging for many contractors. When that happens, your camera might get stuck between pipes or damaged when you push too hard.

Another factor to consider is for the professional that is looking for the ‘one size fits all’ pipe inspection camera.   Again, it doesn’t exist.  Yes, your 1-inch diameter sewer camera will fit into a 12-inch pipe but what happens after you introduce the system into this pipe after 25 feet?  The push rod will bow up inside.   The push rod diameter is too small and flexible for this large of a pipe.  In addition, gravity will keep the camera at the bottom of the pipe where debris will interfere with the inspection.   For this type of application, you will need to consider another pipe inspection camera.

There are also pipe inspections that will require a flexible pipe camera  which many find is the best inspection camera for plumbing.   These types of systems will allow you to inspect both the 4 inch sewer camera drains but also the 2 inch drain lines with 90 degree bends and many plumbers will stat that this is the best inspection camera.

Bonus Factors to Consider Before You Buy an Inspection Camera

Sometimes looking beyond standard designs can work wonders for your business. Choose advanced features to increase efficiency, minimize risks, and optimize outcomes.

Here are a few new specifications to consider:

  • Memory

Buy a snake camera that records video to maintain a routine report of your inspections. These cameras typically have an external SD card or will accept an USB flash drive.

  • Waterproof Design

Sewer inspections can get messy within minutes. Having a waterproof design retains image quality and functionality when your device gets wet.   There is a difference between water ‘resistant’ and water ‘proof’.

  • User-Friendly Features

Look at the ergonomic features before you buy a snake camera for sewer inspections.  We live in a click and push society.  Look for designs that will make your job easier, not complicated.

  • High-Durability

The inspection that you are targeting is not a disposable item.   You’re are searching for a system that will provide long term durability and usage.    Ask questions about durability as well as field serviceability.

Any combination of these features can facilitate your inspection camera decision. We recommend choosing an option that aligns with your service requirements and budget constraints.

Ask an Expert

Do you want to get the best value for your investment?  Don’t hesitate to call and ask questions.   This is a significant purchase for your organization and you need all the information available to make a good decision.   Don’t feel bad about asking questions or asking for help to make your decision.  We have years of experience in the professional inspection camera industry and would love the opportunity to assist you.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, consider the design features that will optimize your inspection process requirements as well as your budget. Use your checklist to choose the best snake camera for sewer inspections, drainage assessment, and other plumbing projects.

Are you looking for a new sewer camera? Consult our experts at USA Borescopes to find the perfect visual diagnostic tool for your business.