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Re: TV cameras in the weirdest places...

To: "John Miller" <>, <>
Subject: Re: TV cameras in the weirdest places...
From: "Phil Ethier" <>
Date: Sun, 4 Apr 1999 21:23:16 -0500
From: John Miller <>

>I bought this 50+ year old house and wanted to learn more about
>the condition, location, and material used in the sewer line.

You might try a phone call to the local sewer utility.  I work for the Saint
Paul Public Works Department Sewer Utility.  If you live in Saint Paul, you
can call us and we will pull the copy of your permit.  At the time the
contractor put in the house drain, a Public Works inspector checked his work
and measured the lines.  The drawing in the permit shows the type of pipe
used and the layout of the lines.  We will print a copy of it and
give/mail/fax it to you for no charge.  We have these records back to when
the sewers were built in the late 1900s.

>So, I called in a plumber with a TV camera. It worked pretty slick.

Several of the sewer-cleaning outfits hereabouts use them.  We have bigger
ones we use for sewer mains which are too small to walk.

>One of the neat features of this thing was that it had a transmitter
>in the head that could be easily located with a wand that looked like
>a small hand held metal detector. I was able to map the location of the
>sewer line.

Hmm.  Have not heard about this.  I'm going to ask around about this.

>It didn't go at all in the direction any of us first guessed.

Because you didn't call the city.  Or your city was too shortsighted to keep
records.  For a house built after W.W.II, I find this pretty inexcusable.
People pay sewer charges for a reason, and I think keeping track of who's
connecting what to the public sewers is something they ought to have been
doing.  There is a lot of stuff underground, and with the advent of the
information explosion, there is more stuff going in all the time.  If your
local goverment is not keeping track of it all, there will be problems.
>Cost of all this?  $125 plus 2 hours of time at $50/hr.

Hmm.  I've heard of people doing the whole job for the $125, but I don't
know the market, and what private tradespeople charge is really none of my
business as a city employee.

>This seemed a bit high given that I could have bought a camera for less,
>water-proofed it, and sent it down on my homeowner snake (but without
>the locator capability).

No way I'd do that.  First, I probably couldn't pull it off that cheap.
Second, if anything went wrong, I'd be on the hook for paying a plumber to
dig up and fix the line.  If the tradesman screws up, he has insurance.

>My next plumbing project requires replacing the constricted galvanized
>water pipes with copper.

I have a house built about the same time, and I know whereof you speak.

My last house was a 1904 foursquare which was abandoned and unloved when we
bought it in 1974.  One thing we did was pay a plumber to put in all new
copper all the way back the meter.  We always had good water pressure/flow
in that house.

The 1950 bungalow we now inhabit has the galvanized pipe like yours.  It
takes forever for the toilet to recycle.  It takes forever to get hot water
in the bathroom.  The good news is that most of the plumbing is accessible,
so one of these days I can start replacing it with copper.

Phil Ethier    Saint Paul  Minnesota  USA
Lotus Europa, VW Quantum Syncro, Chev Suburban

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