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  • Help me justify a camera system....

    Or maybe in my position it's not feasable.

    I'm not a plumber and don't do inside the building type work. I'm a septic guy. Actually I'm a portable toilet guy who also does septic (business started as septic, toilets eclipsed the septic).


    I locate and uncover tanks about 25% to 30% of the jobs we go to. Most of these I locate with a probe. I do have a spartan sonde locator, but recently I had a job that was so screwy I had to have it located with a camera. I have hired a camera one other time to look at a problem drain.

    I do septic inspections for real estate transactions as well. Usually those guys are so cheap they don't want to pay for any thing other than a basic inspection. I don't know if I could get them to pay for video.

    It would be nice to have this tool at my disposal but I'd like to have other sources of revenue for it.

    What kind of things do you use a camera for that you hadn't expected when you bought it?
    www.ClinkscalesSeptic.com

  • #2
    Re: Help me justify a camera system....

    I have used my camera to inspect the flue pipes connecting to the chimney for obstructions. Found bird nests, and dead critters. Also used it to locate clean outs on a stack that did not have the hole cut out on the wall in commercial restrooms. Moved the ceiling tile made a hole in the dry wall where the stack is fed the camera down the wall to see how high up the clean out is and which bathroom it was facing.
    Ron Hasil Lic #058-160417
    A-Archer Sewer & Plumbing specializing in:
    Tankless Water Heaters | Drain and Sewer Cleaning
    Sump and Ejector Pumps | Backflow RPZ Testing

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    • #3
      Re: Help me justify a camera system....

      Thanks Ken for stopping by and dropping off the catalog. Now I've got about a hundred things I'm sure I need.
      www.ClinkscalesSeptic.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Help me justify a camera system....

        I've got one major excavating outfit that uses me for camera work. They do a lot of main replacement and service replacement. I've done camera work for them locating services for tieing back in after bursting, checking for low spots in lines they've replaced, making recordings post installation for their records, etc.

        I got called in to locate a line for them. Another company had snaked a line and found a low spot in it. This in one of three buildings in an ~80 unit apt complex. Other company had decided the low spot was in the parking lot. Manager had decided to have it dug up an fixed. I found it, located it, it was under the building and really nothing that couldn't be kept under control with regular jetting.

        I ended up kind of screwing my excavators out of a bunch of work... but the work really wasn't there for them in the first place. And I ended up tv'ing the main lines in all three buildings, jetting what needed it, snaking out the chunk of lead I found sticking straight up out the bottom of the pipe at a joint in one spot, and with a contract to jet it all annually.

        $10k of camera made me $2600 and $1500 of work annually for the forseeable future on one job, plus I know who'll get called for sinks and toilets and such.

        If you're a pumper, and all you need it for is locating tanks, and you have someone you can call in when you need it, and you rarely need that...I can't see it. But if you clear clogs or replace lines as well it'll pay for itself in no time.
        This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

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        • #5
          Re: Help me justify a camera system....

          Originally posted by Trent2 View Post
          Or maybe in my position it's not feasable.

          I'm not a plumber and don't do inside the building type work. I'm a septic guy. Actually I'm a portable toilet guy who also does septic (business started as septic, toilets eclipsed the septic).


          I locate and uncover tanks about 25% to 30% of the jobs we go to. Most of these I locate with a probe. I do have a spartan sonde locator, but recently I had a job that was so screwy I had to have it located with a camera. I have hired a camera one other time to look at a problem drain.

          I do septic inspections for real estate transactions as well. Usually those guys are so cheap they don't want to pay for any thing other than a basic inspection. I don't know if I could get them to pay for video.

          It would be nice to have this tool at my disposal but I'd like to have other sources of revenue for it.

          What kind of things do you use a camera for that you hadn't expected when you bought it?
          My Pops has been installing, pumping, repairing septic systems going on 40 years. Never, ever had to call anyone for a camera or needed one.

          It might be ok if you're looking for a different market niche or expand into different services.

          J.C.

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          • #6
            Re: Help me justify a camera system....

            I dont use the see snake much on septic stuff. I have had the reel straped to the hose bed once or twice. How many plumbers around you have a camera? Call around see what a hour of video work costs per hour. Plumber are a great source of video work. There are alot of cameras around here that dont work or dont record , no 512 or locator aka junk.The plumbers call us because we dont do any plumbing work and we are not going to take any work away from them. They know the guys in field would be too hard on it and dont want to spend the money. Video work and locates save money for bidding and cuts down on machine time digging. Once they see how easy good locating and video make life they will call for all sort of stuff. If you get a Navi Tracker you can do locating work for power, fiber,and water line too. If the word gets out you have a nice camara they will come. My old VHS See Snake made my month more than once. A van with a See Snake and a K60 cost a hell of a lot less than a Vac truck. Less paper work, less fuel, less over head,no dumping fees. Start cleaning and the video work will come. The pumping and the cleaning go hand in hand in a rural area. I hope my See Snake pays for my new quad axle. Maybe

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            • #7
              Re: Help me justify a camera system....

              Trent2 nice web site. Looks like this isnt your frist trip to the treatment plant! You will pay for a camera in no time just get the word out there.

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              • #8
                Re: Help me justify a camera system....

                Thanks! We just had the website overhauled this year. It's alot nicer than any of the previous sites we've had.

                I know the local plumber doesn't have a camera. There's lots of other camera's out there as we have alot of big chain plumber/cleaners in the area.

                I thought about getting into the cleaning aspect but the horror stories I see here freak me out. I don't know enough about plumbing. Most of my work would likely be single family residential however duplexes and apartments and commercial work would come and I'd have no idea what to expect.

                We need drain cleaning school!
                www.ClinkscalesSeptic.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Help me justify a camera system....

                  where is the market for a camera? that is the question. is this a business decision or do you just want one? show yourself the market. 1 job is not a market. if you get into drain work, maybe. you don't appear to have market at this time. breid.............

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                  • #10
                    Re: Help me justify a camera system....

                    Well I do want one and that's why I'm asking about how you guys use yours. That way I can determine weather the market is there or not.

                    For use on my own septic jobs, it's not feasable. My excavating contractors may need one from time to time as well with my local plumber.

                    I was wondering about unexpected uses for the camera after you had gotten one.

                    Thanks!
                    www.ClinkscalesSeptic.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Help me justify a camera system....

                      I was surprised at how many plumbers hired us for their camera and locating work.

                      Mark
                      "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                      I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Help me justify a camera system....

                        just don't buy the $399 one from amazing machinery.
                        i have used it twice and now the pic goes in and out on the second job. i'm afraid that one on the third job it will go out completly. i bought it 6 months ago. next one will be a ridged!
                        the only dumb question is the one that is not asked!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Help me justify a camera system....

                          In my opinion, if you are going to invest in a camera, you also need a locator. Otherwise, you risk turning a yard into swiss cheese. I once had a public works director tell me that the sewer ran to the front. Put the camera in and located it in the back! The village was all set to break the street and dig up the line out front too. Comes in handy in a lot of situations (especially the depth finder feature).

                          If you are only doing a few jobs that require a camera, or want to experiment using it as a sales tool, maybe try renting first for a short time first? kind of like a test drive.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Help me justify a camera system....

                            It's just another tool in the arsenal.

                            Most people don't know who they need for their problem. If it involves water, they think plumber. You don't need to be everything to everyone IF you have GOOD PEOPLE to use for the areas you don't cover.

                            I'm a drain cleaner. That's what I do and I do it well. But my customers, for the most part, don't understand where drain cleaning ends and plumbing begins and where it becomes hvac, let alone the lines between drain cleaning, pumping, plumbing, and electrical where lift stations/mounds are involved. It's all just water to them. I'm lucky to have found pumpers, plumbers, and hvac people I can trust to turn my customers over to when it bleeds into areas I'd prefer not to deal with. If I didn't have those people I'd have to just suck it up and fill the void.

                            That's my model; service. I've learned (or decided) that the general public is unable to discern their problem beyond 'water'. As much as I wish it were different, I've accepted that. So if you call me with your 'water' problem you'll get taken care of. If not by me then by the right people for the job who've shown me they know what they are doing and won't screw you over.

                            I don't much like getting forced into offering new services, but I've chosen service as my model. And if no one else is doing the work right, and a customer needs it, well, there will be others who need it as well, so I take a job as a learning experience and figure it out, and decide if I like it, and what I have to charge to make it pay, and we go from there. I HATE grease traps. But I've got no-one to send my restaraunt customers to for pumping small in-floor traps w/o getting raped, so now I pump small traps.

                            If no-one in your area is doing competent camera/locate work at a decent price, or if you find it interesting or think it might be fun, and it's not such a huge investment that you've got to be responsible about making sure it pays, then jump in. But if you have other options and it just sounds like a pain, then leave it alone. I agree 100% don't even bother unless you get a locator as well. That's why a 'camera' to me is 10k, not 8k... if you are going to do something, then DO it, don't half-*** it.
                            This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Help me justify a camera system....

                              you could always buy it and if you don't like it..... i'll buy it for 1/2 price, then we all win
                              the only dumb question is the one that is not asked!

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