3 Tools Every Plumbing Service Van Needs

Stock up! Keep your service van fully stocked with these three must-have pieces of equipment.
3 Tools Every Plumbing Service Van Needs
JM-3080 Jet-Set water jet drain cleaning machine from General Pipe Cleaners

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Service vans come in a variety of shapes and sizes. But whether it’s a cab-over design or a standard van, the key to your success is what you pack inside. 

The people at George Brazil Home Services (featured in a Cleaner “Money Machines”) are well aware of this fact. The company’s well-stocked box trucks carry about $10,000 worth of parts painstakingly organized into storage bins, which dramatically minimizes the need for daily parts runs. They also carry inspection cameras, cable machines, portable jetters, locators, extra hose reels, a good selection of nozzles and root cutters. 

“We operate under the theory that there’s a place for everything, and everything in its place,” says Daryl Bingham, operations manager at Brazil, named for the late founder of the 58-year-old company. “George was very meticulous and put a lot of thought into how to increase productivity through better organization.”

In addition to saving on travel time, having the right tools on every truck eliminates calling in another technician who has a jetter or camera, or whatever you need and don’t have. So before you head out on your next call, make sure you stock up with these three tools in your service vehicle:

1.   Inspection camera

You can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s wrong, and nothing is more useful in diagnosing plumbing problems than an inspection camera. Whether it’s a 1 1/2-inch sink drain or a 16-inch sewer main, a good camera will help you diagnose the problem quickly and accurately. Consider these options: 

  • The Viztrac II AM240-200 pipe inspection camera from Amazing Machinery has 200 feet of durable 1/2-inch push cable with fiberglass rod inner core, a 20-inch cage reel and attached water-sealed case containing the controls, a high-resolution 7-inch LCD monitor and wheels to increase mobility.
  • Custom truck, van, ATV or trailer-mounted TV inspection systems from CUES are made to withstand severe conditions, and ergonomically designed for comfort and efficiency. They can include TV inspection equipment for sanitary and stormwater lines, laser and sonar pipe profiling systems and more.
  • The EasyCAM E3200 was designed from a plumber and drain cleaner’s perspective, using easily replaceable modular components. When repairs are needed the owner can easily do them, as no special tools are needed.
  • The Ecam PRO 2 from Electric Eel is used to inspect 3- to 10-inch pipelines. It includes a stainless steel-housed 1.68-inch self-leveling color camera with sapphire lens, 20-LED light ring and a high-resolution CCD element.
  • The FB-PIC3688A pipe inspection camera system from Forbest Products Co. allows users to have panorama pictures with remote directional control. It comes with 2 1/4-inch waterproof 360-/180-degree pan-and-tilt high-resolution color camera head.
  • The NGx10 video inspection system from MyTana Mfg. Company is suitable for 3- to 8-inch lines with up to a 200-foot range. It has a standard color self-leveling camera head, a built-in 512 Hz transmitter that allows location during inspection.
  • The Pan n’ Tilt Push Camera from Ratech Electronics rotates horizontally 360 degrees and 210 degrees up and down, allowing technicians to view the pipe condition easily and in more detail. An optional steerable gooseneck assists the camera.
  • The modular M-Series pipe inspection system from Rausch Electronics USA was designed around the four-wheel-drive steerable crawler/tractor platform L135. Each camera and module is interchangeable via a quick-connect connector.
  • The CROSSTOUCH modular TV inspection system from RICO GmbH can be arranged individually to expand a vehicle. It can be expanded in different load-bearing carriages, and the mobile and light boom crane makes it possible to easily deposit and pick up the carriage.
  • The Mainline High Cube CCTV pipeline inspection system from RS Technical Services has single-conductor technology, with customizable high cube van installation. Plug-and-play components can be added onto existing systems, without the need for additional system controllers or upgrades.
  • At 25 pounds, the SparVision 200 pipe inspection camera from Spartan Tool is self-contained in a single unit for easy on-the-job maneuverability. Outfitted with iPad technology, it is intuitive to use and includes telestration to actively draw on the screen to indicate problems.
  • The vCam-5 inspection system from Vivax-Metrotech Corp. has the ability to locate the entire length of pushrod, in addition to having a locatable sonde. Simply connect the hot lead from a cable locator transmitter to the reel and the ground lead to ground.
  • The Model C-150 T2M mini camera from Vu-Rite Video Inspection Systems is ideal for inspecting sewer lines as small as 2 inches, or larger lines with the use of a mini-lift adapter. The full-color camera has a heavy-duty stainless steel lens cover and body.
  • The VIS 350 Plus visual inspection camera system from Wohler USA comes with both a 1 1/2-inch, 360-degree pan and 180-degree tilt camera head, and a 1-inch, straight camera head. Both are waterproof and have LED lights with adjustable brightness levels for an all-encompassing view.
  • The Xcam camera system uses a 1.38-inch stainless steel camera head and 1/2-inch-diameter pushrod to navigate 3-inch, 90-degree corners with ease. Recording is done onto a USB stick in MPEG file format that can be played back on any computer.
  • The Pathfinder pipeline inspection system from Aries Industries operates over long distances through harsh pipe conditions. The transporter sets up quickly to match pipe contours and conditions. Adjustable camera lifts enable easy transitions from small to large pipes.
  • The RX400 crawler body from Envirosight has a built-in remotely operated camera lift with 17.5 inches of vertical travel — enough to center viewing in a 60-inch line, and suitable for inspecting pipe up to 10 feet in diameter.
  • The Kleen Sight inspection and cleaning system from KEG Technologies incorporates upright image video with fluid mechanics for mainline inspection and cleaning. Only a jetter hose connection is required. No cables or wires are connected to the truck.
  • The P350 flexitrax from Pearpoint/SPX has the simplicity and transportability of a pushrod system while delivering the functionality and performance of a crawler system. Its modular structure allows all its main components to be fully interchangeable.
  • The PEGASUS HD camera system from RapidView IBAK provides visual clarity in full 1920x1080 high definition. It has full pan, tilt and zoom capabilities, and includes built-in laser measurement for measuring defects inside the pipe. 

Check out complete camera inspection product listings and manufacturer contact information.

2.   Portable water jetter

There is no more versatile cleaning tool than the water jetter. Whether it’s a FOG problem or a nasty ball of roots, a good jetter will help you clean out any blockage in any pipe. These portable jetters will all help you restore the flow: 

  • The JM-3080 Jet-Set water jet drain cleaning machine from General Pipe Cleaners can clear grease stoppages, sand, sludge and ice clogs. It generates 3,000 psi at 8 gpm, and Vibra-pulse on demand helps the hose slide easily down long runs and around tight bends.
  • Roll-cage-protected two-, three- and four-cylinder water-cooled Kubota pressure washers from Water Cannon are available in pressures up to 7,000 psi. They come with a 50-foot hose, wand, trigger gun and QC nozzles, and include forklift channels and more.
  • The SJPE-1500 from Shark Pressure Washers & Jetters is rated at 1.7 gpm at 1,500 psi, operating on 115-volt electricity. It comes standard with a 35-foot power cord with GFCI, and features a slide-in handle to help accommodate loading and unloading into any van, truck or car. 

Check out complete portable jetter product listings and manufacturer contact information.

3.   Cable machine

It’s one of the most basic drain cleaning tools, but nothing provides more bang for your buck than a cable machine. If you do residential drain cleaning, it’s a must-have. With countless cutting heads available, this machine can chew its way through anything you’ll encounter. Consider these machines:

  • The TorqueMasterTM750 mainline drain cleaning machine from Coast Manufacturing has a double-welded, powder-coated tubular steel frame and an easy-start 3/4 hp dual-capacitor motor.
  • The compact, lightweight DM10 drain machine from Duracable Manufacturing is designed to clean lines from 1 to 4 inches. The frame is a double-tube design, which adds stability and allows for the wiring to run inside the frame.
  • The Model GO 68HD heavy-duty electric drain cleaning machine from Gorlitz Sewer & Drain is available in two different versions, either with an open steel reel or enclosed polyethylene drum, and can be outfitted with an optional power feeder.
  • The Junior drain cleaner from Ken-Way Corporation weighs 24 pounds without cable. An optional easy-move cart allows for transport in large buildings. Its small footprint makes for easier access under sinks and in small spaces.

Check out complete cable machine product listings and manufacturer contact information.


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