Thinking laterally – Can lateral inspections supplement your inspection program?
The majority of any pipe network is made up of the smaller diameter lateral connecting pipe lengths (relative to mainline lengths), so it’s no surprise that lateral inspections are becoming more and more popular.
Let’s take a look at what you need to know about lateral inspections.
What are lateral inspections?
Lateral inspections are inspections that survey the connecting pipe to the main line. The inspection can either be done from an access point upstream of the connection back down to the mainline or from the mainline up through the lateral connection to a connection point or boundary point upstream.
Depending on where in the world you are, these connecting pipes to the main line are sometimes called house branch connections, junctions or taps. Similarly, there are also varying ways to undertake a lateral inspection or coding defects associated with the lateral. Some countries include lateral condition coding with mainline condition coding, whilst others treat the lateral condition coding separately.
Why are lateral inspections required?
Water authorities will do lateral inspections for several reasons. Most organisations undertake lateral inspections in their network because they own the lateral and are therefore required to maintain all or part of the lateral length. There are some organisations that proactively undertake lateral inspections to investigate unknown connectivity of the network.
When should I do a lateral inspection?
Funding an inspection program can be challenging sometimes. So, adding lateral inspections to your inspection program might sound like an extra burden. Let’s look at some of the reasons water authorities choose lateral inspections for their inspection program that make the investment worth it:
- Investigating reported customer issues – if a customer reports an issue and no problem can be identified with the mainline pipe.
- Investigating network connectivity – if there are suspected illegal connections in the lateral network, or if th
- As a workaround for upstream access restrictions
All of the above challenges cost the water authority’s money if left unresolved, which makes the business case for lateral inspections much easier. The magnitude to which this impacts your organisation will drive a cost-benefit ratio that makes sense for your organisation’s circumstances.
Minicam lateral launch
How can I get a lateral inspections done?
Depending on the reason for the inspection, and that site access conditions, lateral inspections are usually undertaken in one of two ways.
- Starting from the mainline – The first, is from the mainline using specialist inspection camera technology. This involves a type of camera that has ‘lateral launch’ functionality, which basically means a camera can be ‘launched’ up the lateral up to a length of 150 ft or 45.72 meters. There are restrictions on the use of these types of cameras, such as lateral and camera angles. This type of inspection can help with access issues, and investigations of network connectivity.
- Starting from an upstream point in the lateral – The second way to do an inspection of the lateral starting from an upstream point in the lateral down towards the mainline. Its possible to do this type of inspection with a standard CCTV inspection camera (either crawler or pushrod). This type of inspection can help with investigations of customer issues.
The increased demand for lateral inspections can be attributed to a number of things, not least of which the availability of the technology, and increased customer reporting capability and more. Either way, these inspection methods are a great way to supplement your upcoming inspection programs where the needs arise.