Questions to Consider Before Purchasing Diagnostic Tools

Diagnostic equipment adds a valuable service to your offerings, but it’s important to do your research ahead of time so that you get exactly what you need

Questions to Consider Before Purchasing Diagnostic Tools

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If you are thinking about adding diagnostics to your company’s services, taking some time to research and understand the different types of equipment and their uses is essential to making a wise investment. 

For example, I know of a case where a contractor just starting out on his own purchased a smaller, less expensive system. He simply wanted to get it out there that he now did drain inspections. Price is certainly a factor to consider, but typically, less expensive reels are smaller and meant only for doing smaller-sized pipe. When using the reel in a pipe that was 4 inches larger than the maximum diameter the reel called for, he kinked the cable. He now had to incur a charge to return his camera so he could get it back up and running. Taking some time up front to think about the job sites you most often visit and the size of pipes typically found there can go a long way in preventing unnecessary repairs like this and help maximize ROI. 

As you are comparing diagnostic tool options, here are some questions to consider: 

Do you have a complete system?

Many contractors just starting out purchase only the reel and monitor initially, but investing in a locator should also be on the list in order to have a complete system. The reel and monitor will let you view and show clients any issues you find, while the locator lets you know where and how deep to dig. 

What pipe size do you frequently work with?

When looking at a reel, consider the pipe distance and the diameter you most frequently work with. For example, if you work with clean-outs, you will want a reel that is at least 100 feet or longer. And if you commonly work in pipe 2-6 inches, you will not want to get a reel that has cable with a capacity range from 1-2 inches. Cables which are used in drains larger than their recommended range may turn on themselves and kink.

Is the equipment easily transportable?

Equipment size, weight and transportability are important factors to consider. Many contractors find themselves working in crawl spaces, attics and climbing ladders to access roofs daily. You need to be able to get your equipment to the job site safely and with minimum stress on your body.

Do the tools support easy sharing of information?

One of the biggest advancements in recent years has been the ability to share content more easily through various data transfer methods. Recording to a USB drive is still common on many systems, but the challenge with that is getting the device into the hands of the decision-maker (home/business owner, supervisor, inspector). Wi-Fi compatibility lets you easily connect your internet-enabled device to the system then text and/or email your findings immediately. That is huge when it comes to time management. You can find the issue, send it to the decision-maker, and make well-informed decisions allowing you to proceed with the job.

What type of support is offered?

How well will you be supported after your equipment purchase? Do you know your rep? Is your rep readily available to you? Can you get demos done for the decision-maker and training for the crew once that equipment comes in? Also, how easily can you get that equipment in for repair if something should go wrong with it? How quickly can you get it back? It is not just the name on the reel or the cost that should be considered. Support for that investment should play a major role in what you go with.

The answers to these questions will guide you in purchasing diagnostic tools that meet your needs and allow you to perform your best on the job site. 

About the Author

Darren Jameson is the Texas territory manager for RIDGID, a part of Emerson’s professional tools portfolio that also includes the Greenlee brand. RIDGID is a global manufacturer of more than 300 dependable and innovative tools, trusted by professional trades in over 100 countries. Learn more at or by following Jameson on Instagram @the_ridgid_rep.


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