A Camera Inspection Is the Best Way to Investigate Plumbing Trouble

Camera inspections help solve plumbing mysteries. If you can’t figure out why your sinks aren’t draining properly, why your toilets are clogging all of the time or why a faucet isn’t running at full capacity, the camera will find out for you. Read about the three problems that the special plumbing service can reveal. 

Problem #1: Tree Roots

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As a homeowner, you wouldn’t assume that you’re dealing with tree root intrusion when you have drain trouble. You’ll guess every other reason beforehand: grease build-up, food clogs, foreign objects, breaks or leaks. But you’d be surprised by just how often tree roots are the culprit to home plumbing struggles.

Tree roots can do a lot of damage to your property. A fast-growing tree’s root system can push up against your driveway, shift concrete slabs on the sidewalk and crawl into your pipes. What usually happens is an underground pipe breaks or leaks, which draws the attention of the roots searching for nutrients. The roots grow toward the pipe and slowly make their way inside.

If you’re constantly frustrated by drain clogs or sewer back-ups, a camera inspection can check if tree roots are causing them. While it’s not good news to find out that you have a forest growing inside of your plumbing, it’s important to catch the problem early on. The Toronto Star reported on one household that tree root intrusion that was so far-reaching that roots could be seen coming out of a drain. On the lowest level of the house, they can creep inside of toilets.

The inspection can determine where the blockage is for easier removal. That way, we can get rid of the broken, root-riddled pipe and give it a replacement. Any underground pipes that are vulnerable to this type of damage should be upgraded. Older homes in the GTA often have clay pipes instead of materials like PEX — these are especially susceptible to cracks and leaks because they are brittle. They also become easily misaligned, giving another opening for roots to enter. Replacing the pipes with ones made from better materials will stop that same tree from giving you trouble in the future.

We offer pipes that won’t be susceptible to cracks, breaks and simple disjoints. They come with a 25-year warranty and a guarantee that they won’t be vulnerable to root intrusion.

You will also want plumbing camera inspection help to determine if you’re even responsible for taking care of the repairs. Plumbing systems are divided into two main parts: the home plumbing system and the public system. Your home plumbing can still suffer when the initial blockage is coming from the city’s end of the system, not your own.

If the root blockage is not technically on your property and is located on the city’s end of the sewer line, you aren’t responsible for the repairs and replacements — they are. A time-stamped camera inspection provided by a professional plumber will be great evidence to prove your case to Toronto Water during their investigation.

As an important note, the city is accountable for their side of the sewer line, but they will not answer for their trees. Even if you don’t have a tree growing in your yard and the roots clearly came from the public tree near the road, the city will contest your complaint. Since the roots enter plumbing because of cracks and leaks, they can argue that the intrusion is the homeowner’s responsibility. The roots only made the original plumbing problem worse.

If you don’t have any trees on your property, but you would like to plant one, remember to take your plumbing system into account. Don’t plant any fast-growing trees with aggressive root systems like silver maples, red maples, sycamores, oaks, poplars or willow trees. Pick slow-growing saplings like Japanese maples or redbuds. No matter the species you pick, you should keep a close eye on their growth.

Here are some other ways to plan your garden wisely and avoid tree roots in sewer lines later on:

  • Periodically replace small trees to prevent root interference
  • Add chemical root barriers in the soil
  • Add physical root barriers in the soil
  • Plant the tree at a safe distance from your house and your neighbour’s lot

Problem #2: Mineral Build-up

Toronto residents are at risk of this situation because their plumbing systems interact with moderately hard water — this means it has moderately high concentrations of calcium ions in comparison to other regions. When it was tested in 2011, results showed it had 124 milligrams of calcium carbonate per litre.

One of the first signs that your plumbing system is dealing with mineral build-up is when you can spot shower nozzles and sink faucets coated with white, chalky residue. This is calcium build-up. If you want to get rid of the ugly residue, take an afternoon to remove your faucets and nozzles. Soak them in white vinegar for half an hour, then give them thorough rinses. You can also use a product like CLR because it’s designed to break down calcium and lime deposits.

Sadly, the consequences of mineral build-up go beyond unpleasant residues. When accumulated mineral deposits heat up, they create solidified scale. Over time, the scale collects inside of the plumbing and provokes serious problems.

Here are some other signs of scale build-up:

  • Whistling or squealing sounds when running water
  • Low water pressure
  • Poor performance of the washing machine
  • Poor performance of the dishwasher

Have a professional plumber run a camera inspection to double-check if these signs point to mineral build-up or another problem. The inspection can do more than confirm your suspicions — it can let you know if your pipes need to be cleared or if they need replacements.

If you need to get pipe replacements, it’s best to opt for PEX upgrades. They will be resistant to this type of issue, especially in comparison to their steel counterparts. You should also think about getting a water softening system — this will prevent the problem from resurfacing and causing other headaches.

Ignoring the problem isn’t a good decision, because the scale will only give you more trouble over time. It can ruin your water heater by limiting its heating capabilities, corroding the bottom and shortening its lifespan. It can lead to early failure of your water-dependent appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and toilets. It could slowly narrow the passageway of a pipe until it is completely clogged.

Problem #3: A Frozen Pipe

A frozen pipe is an issue that you won’t need to worry about until the winter-time. When temperatures dip below zero, the contents of pipes that are exposed to the cold can freeze over. The hot water pipes are usually the first ones to succumb to the chill. 

Now, you won’t need a camera inspection to let you know you have a frozen pipe. You can tell when you turn on a faucet and the water doesn’t come out of the tap. Similar issues can happen with showers, baths and toilets. You will want to have a plumber use the camera inspection to detect exactly where the pipe is frozen so that they can quickly and safely thaw it out.

Frozen pipes are more than inconvenient — they can lead to disastrous circumstances if you’re not careful. Ice expands and builds pressure inside of the pipe, which can’t escape when the faucets or nozzles are closed. The pressure eventually can’t be contained and forces the pipe to burst open. The break can cause substantial water damage to your property, especially if you’re not nearby to turn off the water supply valve.

If you realize that you have a frozen pipe, call a plumber to thaw it out right away. Then, turn on the connecting tap so that the faucet or nozzle is open. The move may seem pointless because water isn’t coming out of it, but it’s meant to relieve pressure. Remember that too much pressure leads to bursting. Then, wait for the professional to arrive and thaw out the blockage.

You can avoid the issue entirely by taking certain precautions. Insulate all of your exposed water pipes. Pay attention to cold weather warnings and be sure to turn up the thermostat before the outdoor temperatures drop to below zero. Keep interior doors open so that the warm air can circulate in every single room. You can visit our blog for more tips on how to take care of your pipes and prevent freezing during the winter.

Any time you’re having plumbing troubles that you can’t wrap your head around, a camera inspection will probably get to the bottom of what’s happening. So, if you’re confused about your drains acting up or about your water pressure going down, call Sewer Squad Plumbing Co to run a camera inspection and get you the diagnosis you’re looking for. We have the latest technology that provides HD-like picture quality so that we can get a crisp picture of the problem.

Instead of troubleshooting the plumbing problem, you can take a look into the pipes. Video evidence takes the guesswork out of the equation, getting you one step closer to getting the solution you need.

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