CCTV Drain Survey Costs
A drain survey is an in-depth inspection of your drainage system using high tech cameras which are attached to the end of flexible tubing which sends back live images to a portable screen so the engineer can visually inspect the length of the drain and look for any damage, blockages or deterioration. The cost of a drain survey will vary from £100 to around £400 with the average cost somewhere between £90 and £350.
When the technology was first developed, the cost of a CCTV drain survey was very high but as the use of this equipment has become so widespread, the charges have fallen in line with this. There is a difference between the cost of a CCTV drain survey which may be used prior to purchase and a call out to find the cause of a blocked drain. The cost of a drain survey for inspection purposes will usually be quoted based on the size of the property; the price for a call out to find the cause of a blocked pipe will be different because it may not be necessary to examine the whole of the drain run to find the problem. There may be work required to remedy the issue once it has been identified.
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Are there any factors which can increase the price?
The usual factors are the size of the pipes – commercial-grade pipes may require larger cameras to accurately assess them – the length of the run or size of the property and where you are located in the UK. Most trades are more expensive in London and the South East. Generally, the maximum price is around £400 but this would not include any additional work required to clear a blockage or mend a pipe.
If your drain blockage is an emergency then expect to pay a higher call out charge during evenings and weekends.
Why have a drain survey?
Drain surveys are used in a number of different situations including:
- A pre-purchase inspection before you acquire a new property, this allows the buyer to have a clear view of the condition of the drainage system before they buy
- Drainage problems which can include blockages, backing up, failure to drain quickly enough and foul odours
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What equipment is used?
A fully equipped drainage engineer will have the following equipment:-
- Waterproof cameras – designed operate in flowing water and tight spaces, these cameras provide visual access to all of the drain run including tight corners which would normally remain completely inaccessible
- Access rods – these are like standard drain rods but are more flexible allowing the cameras to move around more within the drain and navigate tight turns and corners
- Crawlers – remotely operated crawlers, these are cameras mounted on a robust wheeled platform with different view options including forward view, pan, tilt and zoom functions illuminated with eight LED lights. The crawler is controlled by a remote joystick operated console with around 1,000 feet of cable to allow it to explore. Crawlers are used in obstructed pipes where the standard access rod and camera would not be able to provide sufficiently clear images
- Sonar units – these are used in filled pipes to provide acoustic profiling in situations where visual access is too limited to be able to provide a report to the householder
How do you know if your drain is blocked?
There are a number of clear signs that you have a problem with a drain and these include:-
- The flow of water is impeded so water is not effectively removed from sinks or basins or the bath or toilets
- There is water pooling on top of manhole covers
- There can be a foul smell
What type of things will a drain survey find?
Drain blockages can be caused by all sorts of things but a CCTV drain survey should provide the answer. Some of the most common drain obstructions include:-
- Fatbergs, these are a rock-solid lump of waste matter formed by a combination of non-biodegradable solids like baby wet wipes and congealed grease or cooking fat
- Blockages caused by sanitary products, a build up of paper towels or other hard to flush products
- Collapsed drains caused by a break in the pipe, this can allow soil and other debris to enter the pipe and form an obstruction
Tree roots can enter a pipe or drain via the joints. Growing roots can compromise sand and cement joints and even rubber-sealed couplings which are used on newer drains. Tree roots can also gain access through fractures or cracks that form on the surface of a pipe which will become wider as the root grows. The tree root can cause a partial or whole blockage and can even rupture or burst a pipe
- Corrosion and wear and tear
- Animal intrusion
- Evidence of displacement or poor installation
How to clear a blocked drain
This will depend on how badly it is blocked and what the cause is. Often householders can clear partial blockages themselves with drain rods or a drain snake. It is important to act quickly as soon as you suspect a blockage to prevent it from getting any worse.
If a sink or basin is blocked then you can try and clear this with a mixture of hot water, soda crystals and a sink plunger which is a cheap and easy purchase from a DIY store. Sink plungers work using a vacuum seal and pressure. Fill the sink half full with water then place the plunger over the plughole – make sure you remove any metal strainers first. Ensure a complete seal over the plughole and then use a sharp, fast plunge and release technique to create suction, repeat this two or three times and then wait to see if the sink will drain. Sometimes, it is necessary to unscrew the U-bend pipe under the sink which is a favourite location for the build up of blockages. Always remember to put a bucket underneath the joint before you unscrew it to catch dirty water and debris.
If the blockage is further downstream so outside the house but still on your property then a drain engineer may be necessary if you cannot clear a blockage with drain rods or a drain snake. The drain engineer you contact for the survey will suggest a remedy based on the cause and location of the blockage discovered by the survey.
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How to find a reputable drain survey company
Most blocked drains are an emergency which is why it is important to act quickly if you suspect a partial blockage as you could prevent it from turning into something more serious. It can be easy to fall into the trap of phoning the first sponsored ad which comes up on an internet search. You can end up paying over the odds particularly if the call out is during the evening or at the weekend. Some companies may appear ‘local’ on an internet search but these are often national organisations who buy local phone numbers. They will find you a local drain engineer which you could do yourself and add on their own hefty mark up.
It is worth getting in touch with calloutcharges.co.uk as we have a number of trusted traders you can call on in a crisis. Check whether the company offers a 24/7 emergency clearance service as well as routine drain surveys and inspections for non-urgent jobs.
How to protect your drains from damage and blockages
Householders can do a huge amount to prevent drain blockages by being aware of what they are putting down the drains and also cleaning them regularly which is quick and simple and doesn’t have to involve the use of toxic, chemical-based cleaners which are very unfriendly to the environment.
- Don’t pour used cooking fat down the sink, drain it and dispose of it in the household rubbish
- Collect as much food debris as possible before you wash up or put dishes into the dishwasher, scrape the plates thoroughly. There are some serious culprits which are not drain friendly and these include coffee grounds and tea leaves from loose leaf tea
- Use mesh grills over plugholes in the bathroom to catch hair and prevent it from travelling into the drains – human hair can wind its way around other solids and build up into a hard mass
- Keep outside drains clear of leaves, moss and debris and ensure rainwater goods like guttering are all free-flowing. A factor in more complex outside tap fitting costs could be any external drainage needed and making sure this is kept clear.
Clean your drains regularly to avoid clogs, use a handful of baking soda followed by hot water, this can help break down lumps of grease which are starting to build up. Baking soda also helps dispel unpleasant odours. You can also pour one cup of vinegar down the drain, leave for 30 minutes and then follow up with boiling water. Vinegar contains acetic acid which acts as an excellent organic solvent in removing build-up. There are some very strong chemical products sold in supermarkets and DIY stores but these are very harmful to the environment and can be dangerous for the user. Keeping your drains running clear with a regular and simple clean will avoid having to use these products
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Drain Survey Cost FAQs
Is the householder responsible for all the drains on his property?
The responsibility for the removal of blockages in drains within the property boundary stays with the householder, if the problem is in lateral drains or the sewer and not in the immediate drain run then the responsibility for clearance lies with the local water company. A quick check with your neighbours can often help you establish where the cause of the blockage might be.
What is a drain snake?
A drain snake is an inexpensive piece of kit available from DIY and hardware stores. A drain snake uses a long, spring steel wire to snake into the drain and once it encounters a blockage, can be twisted around to catch and remove debris. Their flexible design allows them to bend around most pipes.
Do you always need to excavate to clear a blocked drain?
The reasons for excavation are many and varied and most drain engineers will always prefer a ‘no dig’ resolution but there are occasions when this is simply not possible. Drain liners can be used to repair a damaged pipe, the liner is held in place using air pressure and an epoxy resin to fix the liner to the pipe and seal off the damage. This is a good ‘no dig’ option for sealing cracks and ruptures to underground pipes and is both reliable and cost-effective. Pipe bursting is a method of replacing underground pipes without having to dig up the entire line, the new pipe is simply run down the existing line. The new pipe is fitted with a bursting head that is used to crack and displace the old pipe as it is pulled along so the new pipe replaces the old one.
Drains are often an ‘out of sight out of mind’ household service until they become a problem. It is always better to act early if you suspect a blocked drain or some sort of damage. Blockages within the property can usually be dealt with by the householder with not much effort and this will at least identify whether the problem is further downstream or in the house. You can’t really reduce the cost of a drain survey but you can minimise the number of times you may need to call out an engineer by taking good care of your drains. If you are buying a property then a CCTV drain survey despite the cost can provide peace of mind and reassurance that the things you can’t see are in good working order. And some purchases may require it if the surveyor recommends it to the mortgage company.