Thursday, July 14, 2011

Colonoscopy: Not Just For People!

Victorian houses have plenty of character. My house was built in 1885, with lots of period details including built-in ice boxes, a slate kitchen sink, cedar lined closets, stained glass windows, a wrap around porch, and original hard wood floors. However, old houses also have inadequate insulation, outdated electrical systems, and ineffective plumbing.

A couple of weeks ago, an original cast iron pipe had to be removed after it cracked. This week there was another plumbing problem caused by an inadequate drain trap. The problem has been temporarily fixed, but the long-term repair will cost anywhere from $2,000 - $5,000. Like everything else these days, plumbing repair is expensive and high tech.

I was surprised to learn that one diagnostic tool used by the modern day plumber is a fiber optic video camera. The plumber slips the camera down the pipe where footage film is transmitted either in real-time, or recorded and stored for later use. Using the video camera allows the plumber to pinpoint problems such as broken pipes, corrosion, leaking joints, and blockages.

These video cameras have even been used to find lost jewelry and other items that have been accidentally flushed down the toilet. Before the use of video cameras, determining the cause of a plumbing problem was an arduous process that took lots of time and money. Now it can be done in just minutes. In many respects, watching the video of my household pipes was like looking at a human colonoscopy. It was really quite amazing.

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