Eyes in Your Drain Pipes

How technology is changing the plumbing industry.


Eyes in Your Drain Pipes

As long as there’ve been drain pipes, there’ve been blockages and braves souls to unclog them. Fortunately technology is finding its way into the profession, making the job a lot easier and a little more pleasant.

The most recent development in the industry is the use of fiber-optic cameras that can be run through drain-work to help diagnose and repair problems or blockages. “We can actually go down the inside of pipes and see where exactly the problems are,” says Dan Pentico, a US plumbing contractor and general manager of a Mr. Rooter plumbing franchise in Texas.

“This way we can pinpoint problem areas instead of having to change the entire pipe to try find the problems.”

Diamonds in the doodoo

In the last few years, better technology has helped plumbers provide improved service to their customers, saving time and of course cost, says Pentico.

Using fiber-optic cameras with LED lights attached, dark drains are illuminated so the plumber can see inside more easily. The camera then sends images back to a monitor that the plumber can see. “The fiber-optic cameras have saved the day on more than one occasion,” says Pentico.

“My crew recovered a diamond engagement ring worth $70 000 that had been accidentally flushed down a toilet,” he recalls. “We had to dig up the floors, but we knew exactly where to dig. It was definitely our most interesting recovery.” It’s not all drain-pipes where the cameras have come in handy: Pentico has rescued a kitten stuck inside of a wall.

Squeaky clean pipes

Other techo-weapons added to the plumbers’ arsenal are hydro-jetting and hydro-scrubbing. “Hydro-jetting technology allows us to go in and scour pipes clean, adding longevity to pipes instead of the old rooter method which just hopes to break things up,” Pentico explains.

The method cleans pipes to within 98% of brand new. So while technology and plumbing aren’t two concepts you immediately connect with each other, it’ll be a relief the next time your drain’s being naughty.

Tracy Lee Nicol
About the Author
Tracy-Lee Nicol is the managing editor of Franchise Zone Magazine and deputy editor of Entrepreneur Magazine. She studied her Masters degree in Art History and Visual Culture at Rhodes University and spent the next two years working and travelling in Asia. Her love of people, business and teaching is reflected in telling the stories of entrepreneurs, franchisees and franchisors, inspiring others to take the leap to being their own boss and bringing about positive change in South Africa.

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