October 31, 2014
By Brian Holder
Inspecting water and sewer lines hasn’t always been easy. While there were ways to do it, they either required getting down into the sewers or waiting until something flooded to find the compromised pipe. As technology has improved, other methods were developed. Now we have the option of using remotely controlled video cameras to inspect buried pipes, ducts or culverts. The primary intent of using video for these investigations is to collect and document evidence of failures and defects in a given pipe, however there are many more applications and benefits to video pipe inspection than one might think. Even the simplest push rod camera can provide video evidence of broken joints and tree root penetration, but with today’s high tech gadgets we can inspect pipe interiors like never before.
Recently, we have been asked to verify the locations of “phantom manholes” that have been paved over or covered with fill. The structures that are believed to exist because of available records or drawings, but cannot be identified or located in the field. Immediately, we knew the best solution to this problem was video pipe inspection.
By sending a robotic crawler device through the closest structure to the missing manhole, we were able to “drive” the camera down to the location of the missing manhole. Using a “sonde,” which is a type of subsurface utility locating device, we were able to determine the precise location of the pipe and manhole structure.
Not only did the video evidence confirm that the structure, in fact, existed, but we were able to determine the condition of each structure prior to excavation. Moreover, the pipes and structure’s physical location were marked in paint on the surface and could now be surveyed and added to the existing utility plans.
Thinking outside the box to solve our clients’ problems is what we do best, and using high tech gadgets like robotic video cameras is just one of many solutions we can provide.