Photo By Vladimir Breytberg at Shutterstock
Have you ever rented a video inspection camera and tried to interpret what you saw? Have you rented a hydro jet system to clear out your main sewer line with high-pressure water? There are many wonderful tools that help a professional plumber do the job faster and more effectively and are tricky at best for the homeowner. Even something as simple as pipe threading or handling modern PEX tubing can lead to lost weekends, cleanups and insurance claims, and one heck of a story to tell to your friends before they respond with “why didn’t you call a pro?”
Sewer Inspection and Clearing
A backhoe or lots of time shoveling may be required if there’s a major sewer blockage, but your plumber has plenty of ways to identify and solve the problem less drastically. These tools help define the problem and determine which is likely to be the most successful, have the best cost, and have the fewest side effects such as pipe damage or leaks.
It’s pretty easy to inspect your sewer pipes and mainline with video equipment, if you have the expensive pan-tilt-zoom type or other versatile gear that allows you to take a good look around. Once you’ve identified which problems are present, you have one more critical concern: has the pipe been damaged in any way? Clearing the blockage can weaken distressed sewer pipes and lead to larger repairs, but often this can be avoided if you have the experience to make the right judgment call.
Hydro jetting is a fantastic tool for many sewer cleaning jobs, though it has to be used carefully because of the water pressure involved. If there’s a good time when professional plumbing skills and experience are really needed for a plumbing job, it’s when you’re clearing a blocked pipe with extremely high-pressured water.
A traditional solution for clogged sewer and drain pipes is the auger. Plumbers use a variety of augers including powered ones which take special skill to use correctly. When the blockage is further down the line, your plumber may select a good location to open the piping and insert the auger rather than try to snake it down P-traps and other bends in the piping.
It can take determination, experience, and insight to find a stubborn leak, especially if it’s in the wall or another hard-to-reach place. Your plumber has specialized equipment that helps identify leaks, often without having to open walls and plumbing passages to locate the leaks visually. These tools are expensive but effective when used by someone with experience, and often frustrating when used by homeowners with little experience.
Video in the Walls
Video inspection equipment is a great help when looking inside sewer pipes, but it’s also helpful when used in walls and crawl spaces to locate leaks in hard-to-reach pipes. The professional advantage? Fewer holes cut in the wall when locating and fixing the leak.
Listening Disc and Electronic Leak Detection
The listening disc and other electronic leak detection gear are somewhat expensive but can be a big help in finding leaks with minimal time and damage. A variety of listening probes give your plumber versatile access to leak sounds from pipes in the wall, behind cabinets, and even in soil as well as in direct contact with pipes. Perhaps best of all, when the pipes are underneath concrete slabs or other solid surfaces, the plumber can focus on breaking through at a single, precise location.
Pipe Blockage Clearing
Blocked pipes can be as simple as a slow toilet or as complicated as an in-wall blockage or a set of tree roots growing through a sewer line. It’s hard to tell ahead of time without experience and the right equipment.
Even clearing a grease blockage with hot water requires some specialized knowledge. Your plumber knows that hot tap water can sometimes do the job, but pouring boiling water down PVC pipe can cause damage.
It’s important to make sure that using a plunger to clear pipes doesn’t push the blockage further down. Sometimes experienced plumbers will choose to use a snake because of the pipe configuration downstream and the chances that a P-trap or bend will complicate matters. Also, if the homeowner used caustic chemicals in an attempt to clear the drain, using a plunger can be very dangerous.
Snake and Video
Using video along with a traditional snake tool can help identify unexpected blockages like jewelry pieces, hair residue or soap or grease as the culprit, but it may also create a clog which will return over time, causing more work and an unwanted headache.
Pipe Threading and Installation
Pipe Threading Tools
Things can get complicated when threading pipes for installation, especially if you use power threading equipment. Your results may leave you facing another difficult task: repairing pipe threads. Your plumber has the equipment to perform both tasks and the skill to minimize the need for either.
It takes a careful touch to use a torch to work on pipes in the tight spaces where plumbing typically runs.
This popular new plumbing material requires specialized knowledge and the right tools to ensure the connections are tight and durable. The tubing can be joined by crimping or clamping. Once you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each method, you have to select the appropriate toolset for that installation process.
DIY Plumbing Tools
With the right pliers, some pipe cutters, a spirit level, plunger, snake and saws you can get some DIY home plumbing projects started. Don’t forget to turn off the water before you begin, make sure to pull any required permits first and beware of mixing metals when installing pipes. But what if there are unforeseen complications? Well, we do handle emergencies…
Your Best DIY Plumbing Tool — Your Telephone
There are so many advantages to bringing in an experienced plumber with the best tools and expertise for your home plumbing job, including simple peace of mind from knowing the job is done right, the first time. For plumbing with less mess and less stress, give bluefrog Plumbing + Drain a call at 1-844-HOP-TO-IT.