Is it time to buy a new inspection camera? Which features and capabilities should you be looking for?
Question: I’m ready to upgrade to a new sewer inspection camera. I’m sure there’s a lot of new stuff out there. What should I buy?
Answer: The first thing you should ask yourself is, “Why should I buy a sewer inspection camera?” For the answer to this question, just ask George Bauer of Bauer Plumbing in Pittsburgh.
“You won’t believe how many jobs I’ve sold with my camera,” Bauer says. “People think you’re trying to pull a fast one when you tell them that their waste lines have collapsed and have to be replaced, but if you can show them the video, then they can see it right there in black and white, well, color now.
“I offer a free video inspection first. The camera pays for itself in the work it finds.”
Question: OK, I’m ready to buy. What features and capabilities should I be looking for?
Answer: Bauer had an old camera system with a VCR and decided it was time to upgrade. “I want to keep it simple and durable,” he says. “Sometimes my guys don’t treat the tools the way I would so I want to make sure it can take it. And I’m not a technical wizard either. I don’t even have a smartphone.”
Bauer has several options. He can get just a simple reel with a monitor on it, like the Gen-Eye POD. It has no recording capability, but it has a video-out jack so he can add recording capability later. Most people get it with a self-leveling color camera, as well. It costs a little more but it makes it easier for homeowners to understand what they are seeing on the screen.
However, Bauer really needed recording capability. The next step up is a unit with an SD card reader like the Gen-Eye SD. The SD card is like the one used in digital cameras. Just record the video or photos from the inspection camera, take the SD card out of the camera and put it in your computer to copy to a DVD or email to your customer.
In the end, Bauer decided to get a camera with a DVD burner because that’s the closest to the style of recording he was used to with his old VCR system — just push the record button.
Question: What else do I need to know before I buy?
Answer: The camera only shows you the problem in the pipe. If you don’t know where it is, it won’t do you any good. Get yourself a good digital pipe locator. Old locators had a long learning curve — they require you to follow numbers and a bar graph.
New pipe locators, like General’s Hot-Spot pipe locator, can make locating easy. Just turn it on and follow the arrows to your target. The depth of the pipe or camera will appear on the screen as well, so you’ll know if you need a shovel or a backhoe.