If you live in the Northern Territory, drain investigation should be part of your frequent home maintenance. All too often Australian homeowners fail to perform even basic maintenance on drainage systems.
There are a number of different techniques used in drainage investigations, depending on the severity of potential problems. Common reasons for having a drainage investigation carried out include general maintenance, checking for blocks, water ingress in lower floors of the property, foundations subsiding, or as part of a building inspection.
The level of investigation will depend on your specific needs, so costs will increase as the investigation method becomes more complicated or advanced technologies come into the equation. There is no guarantee that frequent maintenance will prevent you ever needing advanced drainage investigation, but it certainly helps.
Homeowners can carry out many of the basic drain investigation techniques fairly easily, so you won’t always have to pay to bring in the professionals. It is a good idea to use basic techniques to check the efficiency of your draining system a few times a year. However, the mind that you identify a problem it is best to have a professional investigation carried out.
The following list of drain investigation techniques are those which are most commonly used by plumbers and building inspectors. There are a number of other drain investigation techniques which are designed to address specific issues, however, which are not listed here.
Always use the method that best suits the problem that you are facing, unless you are carrying out routine maintenance. If there is a potential problem, take action immediately to avoid costly repairs further down the road.
Drain Investigation Methods
At the most basic level you have what is called a drain camera survey. As the name suggests, a camera is fed into the system to check for blockages or damage. Other basic methods include dye testing for water ingress, or using sonar tracing to identify a main sewer line before beginning renovations on your property.
The tried and tested technique of drain flush testing enables you can find out a lot about how well your drainage system is working by flushing toilets or running taps, and then observing how well water travels through the system. By observing the water as it travels to an outside sewer access point, you can establish whether there is a problem and the extent of that problem. A large amount of lost water might indicate a blockage or severe damage to pipes, whereas a lower percentage of loss may indicate a partial blockage or leak.
Water Analysis provides a more accurate means of determining where water ingress is stemming from. By analyzing the water you can narrow your field of search, which will often eliminate the need for more aggressive drainage system techniques. Analyses will usually show whether the water is coming from sources such as a toilet, ground water, or portable water. Obviously you will need a laboratory that carries out water analysis if you opt for this method of investigation.
Pipe profiling is a method which is much more in line with 21st century technology. Using software, an investigator is able to translate rings of light scanned onto drain walls into a digital representation of the pipe. The results will show deformation in the system, which is something that is incredibly important when purchasing a new property.
Ground penetrating radar is another method of technological innovation that is becoming more commonplace in drainage investigations. The more advanced the system, the more information on the condition of a drainage system it is able to return. More advanced units are being developed each year, which has further increased the capabilities of ground penetrating radar systems.