Protect Your Push Cameras

Proper usage, regular cleaning and daily checks for wear and tear will help prevent problems.

Protect Your Push Cameras

RIDGID||General Pipe Cleaners||Inspection Camera

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Adam Teets understands the dilemma drainline inspection technicians often face.

“You see the object causing the obstruction right there and there’s a temptation to just start using the camera to push at it and move it out of the way,” says Teets, a service manager with RIDGID. “But you need to fight the urge, since doing something like that will only damage the equipment.”

Inspection cameras are valuable tools, but they’re regularly exposed to harsh environments and can wear out or break prematurely if they’re not used properly.

Dave Dunbar, assistant sales manager for General Pipe Cleaners, says kinked cables and damaged camera heads are the most common problems that land push cameras in the repair shop.

Taking care of your equipment protects your investment and avoids headaches. To prevent downtime and get the most out of your equipment, industry experts share these tips:

1. Do a simple check of the equipment first

Be sure to follow all of the recommended maintenance specific to your equipment. Before you begin work each day, check for damaged power cords, pulled-out strain reliefs, damaged switches and missing ground prongs. Inspect the cable for any damage. Repair or replace as needed.

You should also expose, clean and lubricate all bushings, bearings and moving parts at least twice a year. A well-lubricated machine will last longer and is less likely to break down in the middle of a job.

2. Keep hands near the drain opening when operating

When your hands are near the opening, you have greater control over the feed and retrieval. Without proper control, the reel can kink up or move too quickly and potentially cause damage to the camera, Teets says.

3. Don’t use camera as a tool

Dunbar says cameras used to inspect clogged pipes are similar in design to cameras used to record family events.

“Most of the damaged camera heads that arrive at repair centers have a cracked lens cover or light ring,” he says. “The LED lights are hidden behind bulletproof Plexiglas and the whole thing is either pipe threaded or epoxied to the end of the pushrod, so it’s sealed up like an Egyptian tomb. That sounds impressive, but it’s really no defense against an overly enthusiastic drain cleaner.”

As Teets mentioned, it can be tempting for a contractor to use the equipment to push the obstruction out of the way, but “that’s asking for trouble. You need to remember the camera is a diagnostic tool. You are trying to find out what’s wrong.”

4. Keep it clean

Keeping the camera and cable clean will improve the equipment’s longevity. “I always keep rags in my truck and wipe it all off after I pull it out,” Teets says. “Some people pour clean water over the cable as they pull it out, but if there’s a backup, adding more water is not always the best move.”

The lens of the camera will need to be cleaned after each use. Cleaning the camera will also keep oil, grease and grit from building up, which will damage the camera if left.

When cleaning, do not use an oil cleanser, as this could impair the camera lens. Instead, use a dry cloth and gently wipe the camera head to remove any dirt or debris.

5. Go slow

When starting on a project, the key is to move slowly and carefully as you put the pushrod into the pipe. If a worker moves too quickly or applies too much force, Dunbar says the pushrod will bow out and kink up.

“Once you are in, use short, fast motions to get around a bend and watch where you’re going,” he says. “Just pay attention.”

A kinked cable can be expensive to fix. As part of the repair, technicians usually cut the cable above the kink, which shortens the reach, Teets notes.

“You have less flexibility with the camera and may not be able to see as far into the pipe.”


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