If you’re responsible for sewer and manhole inspection for a small town or a rural community, it’s likely that you don’t have the same budget or resources as larger municipalities. You might think the only way to get inspection capability is through expensive equipment. However, if you know which factors to look for, inspection capability doesn’t have to be a budget breaker—in fact, compared to hiring an inspection contractor, it can save your town money in the long run. Consider the following factors when evaluating your options.
What type of work will you be doing?
The bulk of your work in a small town consists of inspecting laterals and smaller mains—work that doesn’t require an expensive, state-of-the-art crawler. For smaller communities, a push camera like the PGR400 Inspection System can inspect laterals and small-diameter sewer mains, and is the perfect size for a one- or two-man operation.
It’s not uncommon for a sewer main to extend 600’ to 800’ between manholes. While no push camera can reach this entire length from a single manhole, one with a long (400’) push rod will allow you to inspect the entire line—400’ from the upstream manhole, and the remainder from the downstream manhole.
Pushing 400’ requires a rod specifically designed for the long run. Most residential inspection cameras have a fairly flexible rod, usually designed for small-diameter pipes with multiple bends. Municipal inspection systems are different; they’re designed with more rigidity to allow a long push without bending or doubling over in a 6”, 8” or 10” sewer. And while a rigid rod won’t go around multiple bends, such flexibility is seldom required when inspecting mains and laterals.
A camera with a centering device and a self-leveling head is crucial when inspecting mains and laterals. A centering device attaches to the camera head, positioning it near the center of the pipe for optimal viewing. It also raises the camera above flow and debris in the trough of the pipe, helping keep the camera window clean. A self-leveling camera means that the image or video you see will always be right side up. This helps keep you oriented when navigating through pipe bends, and it also helps you accurately determine the clock position of defects.
A locator and a push camera with a sonde (transmitter) might not seem necessary at first, but if an issue is found, the sonde and locator work together to pinpoint the location of a problem.
You never want to cut corners when it comes to municipal inspections. It can be tempting to try to save money by favoring older or more rudimentary models but newer push cameras that are bundled with other accessories will allow you to take on a variety of projects and get the most use out of the equipment.
Most inspection equipment will come with an SD card or built-in memory but consider the information storage that best works for you and your operators. It can be difficult to remove an SD card and internal memory can quickly fill up if you’re not consistent about clearing it. Newer equipment will have many options for storing and viewing captured information. An inspection system with internal storage, USB ports, and wireless streaming to mobile devices allows you to make multiple copies and backup internal files.
Equipment Cost and Maintenance
While the price tag is an important factor, it’s wise to consider the overall “bang for your buck.” Examine the cost/benefit ratio closely; a less expensive or off-brand inspection system might appeal to your budget initially, but at what real, long-term costs? How long will the equipment last? Do important parts need to be purchased separately? How many people do you need to hire to run the equipment?
The best inspection system should ideally:
- Work for a variety of tasks and projects
- Require only one or two operators
- Come bundled with all necessary parts and add-ons, such as locators and sonde transmitters
- Have a small footprint and fit easily into a small van or pick-up truck
From routine inspection to late night emergencies, the benefits of having inspection capability in-house are undeniable. Without the added cost and time limitation of an outside contractor, you’ll save money and be able to respond quickly to any situation that may occur—significant factors in providing the best maintenance for your community’s sewer infrastructure. Find out more about MyTana's PGR400 push camera system.