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Question DetailsAsked on 2/26/2018

is there a laser light that can detect where your pipes run from your toilet to the main sewer

Regarding the lines that lead to the main sewer there a laser light that can detect how the pipes run to the main sewer from the bathroom toilet

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1 Answer


Not laser light, because how would you see it through the pipes and walls and ground ?

Many Sewer Cleaning contractors DO have sewer cameras with an radio beacon, and a hand-held detector, so they can run the camera through the sewer line (which will also show general direction and turns and such) and someone else walks along and marks the approximate location of the pipe on the ground as the sending head on the camera moves through the pipe - accurate to within a foot or two generally.

Generally the in-house portion of the run is pretty obvious to a builder or plumber and commonly also partly visible. In house piping you can commonly track by just tapping on the pipe too.

Also, assuming the pipe is not totally clogged, audible with a stethoscope or ear to the wall by running water in the pipe (or in this case propping the flapper open so the toilet "runs" continuously) while you listen. Actually, for the underslab / /underground portion commonly you can trace it within a couple of feet just by using a metal rod driven a bit into the ground and listening at the top with the stethoscope while holding the rod very loosely in circled fingers (not grasping it as that damps the sound) as water is run vigorously through the pipe. If there is a pretty complete blockage, also not unusual to be able to find that too because the full (backed-up) portion of the pipe has little to no audible running water noise, but the splashing and turbulence of the water going through the blockage is commonly pretty easily detected. Of course, sewer cleaning companies usually use an actual sonic detector rather than a metal bar, but same principle and not a lot different accuracy or detectability.

If you have a blockage, generally sewer cleaning contractors will not run the camera in until it has been routed out for fear of getting hung up - though some jetting tools do have an on-board camera allowing you to clean and simultaneously inspect the condition of the pipe and clog location. I have never heard of a residential-sized jetting or routing unit with both camera and detector head - I have only seen those on very large commercial units for public sewer cleaning (some even keep track digitally of the path followed), and the previously mentioned combination sewer camera/detectors which maybe half or more sewer cleaning contractors have (though ask in advance because some firms only have one or two spread amongst all their trucks).

Cost of course depends on various site factors, but generally for not more than about a 100' run in the $250-450 range for a complete length routing or jetting (which should be done every 10-20 years anyway to clear out fiber, soap scum, and grease), and another $100-200 additional commonly for the camera / locator run done on same callout.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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