Should I attempt a DIY drain survey?

A drain survey is a fantastic way of checking out the condition of your drainage and locating any blockages, leaks or potential problems. However, you may be wondering if it is worthwhile to attempt to perform a DIY drain survey rather than use a professional service. Here we’ll run through the potential costs of a do-it-yourself survey, as well as stumbling blocks you might face in order to provide you with an accurate insight into the drain surveying process, allowing you to make a more informed choice.

The equipment and costs

Professional drain camera equipment

While a professional will come fully equipped with industrial standard cameras and rods, when you attempt a DIY option, it will be down to you to find the relevant equipment and put together your own kit to tackle the survey. It takes more than just a camera to carry out a drain survey, you will also require long, flexible rodding – or you’ll have to solder rods together yourself – to move the camera through the drain, LED lighting to illuminate the drain, a monitor and power pack to watch the footage on, and perhaps jetting equipment to identify whether it is loose debris you are seeing on your screen or a blockage that requires removal.

Cheap & cheerful approach

When accumulating this equipment, you have two options; you can either opt for a very cheap DIY setup that could cost as little as £50 or scour eBay and other secondhand sites for old professional equipment. Both of these options have their drawbacks, however.

A very cheap setup is likely to break or malfunction, which in the best case scenario would result in a waste of time and money, and in the worst case scenario leave a bit of equipment in your drain potentially causing additional blockages!

Second hand kit

Purchasing a second hand piece of equipment means that you’ll be paying hundreds of pounds for a piece of equipment no longer deemed to be functioning well enough for a professional to use. Not only will this set you back more than a professional survey is likely to cost, it runs the risk of producing less accurate results / being more troublesome to use.

Drain access

Another consideration to bear in mind when considering a DIY drain survey is how accessible your drains are. If you already know where your manhole cover is then this isn’t an issue, but for many properties the manhole can be extremely hard to locate, especially in older properties where the manholes were often shared across neighbouring properties or covered over with concrete or slabs.

If you can’t find your manhole to carry out your survey, a professional will be able to, using their resources. Drain surveyors are well experienced in finding hard-to-locate manholes, and can perform drain surveys without their presence if necessary, making a small incision in the pipe and then resealing it once the survey has been completed. While this may be a viable option for a drainage expert, it is not recommended that you attempt to cut your own pipes as you can end up causing serious damage to your drainage system.

Understanding the footage

CCTV screen

If you do manage to construct or get hold of a suitable camera, your next issue would be deciphering what you see on screen. Hopefully you have a good, high quality screen to give you a clear image, but even so, it can be difficult to tell what you are dealing with without professional expertise; do you know what the inside of a healthy sewer line should look like? Once you establish that something may be interrupting the water ways, how are you positioned to remedy the situation.

The mess

Another consideration to think about when planning a DIY drain survey is how strong your stomach is. If you are going to be working in your sewer lines, expect a strong smell and some unpleasant mess to clean up, especially if you do locate a blockage that needs to be removed.

Health and safety

Open manhole

Finally, ask yourself whether you are fully aware of the health and safety implications of conducting your own CCTV survey. An open manhole cover is a danger in itself, with the potential for trips or falls that could be fatal. On top of that, in an attempt to explore your drains, you may end up exacerbating an issue such as tree root ingress or a loose connection and cause the pipe to crack or burst and leak wastewater into the surrounding ground. This is unhygienic, and could be unsafe.

Leave a domestic drain survey in the hands of the professionals here at Express Drainage Surveys for reliable, affordable results every time. We operate throughout Greater London and the surrounding areas. Make contact today to find out more; we’re always happy to help with enquiries.