A borescope is an instrument that can help one get a better look at narrow chambers or cavities. It has a tube that is connected to an eyepiece on one end. On the other end of the tube, there is a camera or an objective lens that goes into the cavity. The camera will allow you to get a clear picture of areas that are otherwise inaccessible because of how small or cramped they are.
What I find fascinating about a borescope is that it has myriad types of uses. Borescopes are used in several industrial settings, but they can also be used in household plumbing jobs as a sewer line camera!
There are typically three types of borescopes—rigid, semi-rigid and flexible.
I do not think any of these types require too much explaining. A rigid unit essentially has a straight tube at the end of which the camera is attached. These are some of the most affordable borescopes although they have limited use. They work best only for straight pipes.
A semi-rigid unit can be used for small cavities and is slightly more bendable so you can also use it for inaccessible areas that have a slight curve. Finally, flexible borescopes have the most give and can be used for complete pipeline systems that curve at multiple places. Any small cavities that have multiple angles are best explored by a flexible borescope unit.
Whether for a sewer pipe or for an oil pipe, a blockage of any kind can set several systems back and create a lot of trouble. It can be extremely difficult to diagnose the problem in a pipe since it is not humanly possible to look into the length of the pipe. You will not be able to figure out where there is a block in the pipe with just your naked eye.
A borescope can come to your rescue! Often, borescopes are used by plumbers and technicians as a sewer line camera. The camera is flexible and is attached to a cable that acts as a drain snake.
The cable is lowered into the pipe until the camera reaches the point of the clog. When used for a pipe, the cable of a borescope will also be flexible so it can navigate various twists and turns in the pipe.
One of the biggest advantages of having access to an optical instrument of this kind is that you do not need to do any digging or use any invasive methods to get to the root of the problem. Simply lower the probe into the pipe or cavity and use the camera to help you diagnose the problem. Since the footage presented is also in real-time, you do not need to wait for days to figure out what the problem is and then start looking for solutions.
Besides, it is better to be able to use non-invasive methods to investigate a problem rather than digging up the whole area to find that a borescope could have diagnosed the problem with far less effort.
If you work as a plumber or in any kind of field that requires site inspection, I think you can benefit greatly from having a borescope in your tool kit. However, it must be said that borescopes are not always the cheapest instruments to have on hand.
The actual cost of the borescope may vary depending on what type of cable it has, how long it is, how magnified the image can get, how strong the illumination is, etc. In other words, there are several factors that determine how expensive a borescope is so unless you have a specific unit in mind, it can be difficult to answer how much one might cost.
Having said that, even if all the factors contribute to lesser costs, a borescope is not necessarily an inexpensive instrument. It can also be a fragile instrument by virtue of being attached to a camera lens. Still, if this is an investment you can afford to make, I think it may be a worthy investment.
A borescope is an extremely useful optical instrument to have at hand, especially if you suspect there is a blockage in a pipe or if there is a small cavity that requires inspection.
It can save you a lot of time, money and effort by helping you diagnose a problem without digging up any area or taking recourse to other invasive methods. I find them to be fascinating instruments not only for industrial use, but even for residential use.