GPRS Deploys ‘Super Sonde’ for Video Pipe Inspection

GPRS Deploys ‘Super Sonde’ for Video Pipe Inspection

GPRS paired specialized equipment with our industry-leading sewer pipe inspection process to locate an old sewer line hidden 40 feet below a 124-year-old college campus.

GPRS Project Manager Nate Johnson was tasked with locating the pipe buried beneath Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Carnegie Mellon University, where Costa Contracting was doing foundation work for a new building.

Green spray paint on the ground of a job site.
While existing as-built documentation for Carnegie Mellon University indicated a sewer line was running through the planned site for a new building, the contractor had been unable to accurately locate the line by themselves.

While existing as-built documentation for the university indicated a sewer line was running through the planned excavation site, the contractor had been unable to accurately locate the line by themselves.

This isn’t unusual; the average sewer line in the United States is 45 years old. Even today, many facilities don’t have accurate maps of their buried infrastructure.

This is a problem, especially considering that the average sewer line in the U.S. is also at 81% capacity and 70,000 sanitary sewer overflows occur annually. You can’t maintain what you can’t find.

To find the buried sewer line at Carnegie Mellon, Johnson inserted a remote-controlled sewer inspection rover into a nearby access point and piloted the device through the line running under the job site. All of GPRS’ rovers and push-fed sewer scopes are equipped with CCTV cameras and sondes: instrument probes that are detectable from the surface using electromagnetic (EM) locators. This allows us to map your sewer system at the same time we’re investigating it for defects such as cross bores and inflow/infiltration (I/I).

The problem was that our rovers’ internal sondes can only locate sewer pipes up to 15 feet into the Earth. Because of the hilly terrain found across much of western Pennsylvania, pipes are often buried much deeper than 15 feet.

A Prototek DuraSonde Transmitter on a table.
To find the sewer line, GPRS Project Manager Nate Johnson deployed this Prototek Durasonde Transmitter, which is locatable in nonmetallic pipes over 50’ in depth.

To overcome this challenge, Johnson equipped his rover with a Prototek DuraSonde Transmitter. Colloquially referred to as a ‘super sonde,’ this 10 ¼ inch-long, 8 KHz frequency transmitter is locatable in nonmetallic pipes over 50 feet in depth.

“So, it gets attached to the crawler and is able to be located with our EM locators...,” Johnson said. "We do [jobs with this device] from time to time. With how hilly it is in western Pennsylvania, some of the lines are quite deep.”

With the super sonde along for the ride, Johnson used the rover to conduct GPRS’ comprehensive Video Pipe Inspection services. Through this process, we provide our clients with NASSCO-certified, WinCan reports detailing all issues found within the pipes we locate and map. These reports include photo and video evidence of the defects, which are geolocated and ranked by severity, so you know where you need to dig to make repairs and can prioritize maintenance.

Even the best infrastructure data is useless if you can’t share it when and where it’s needed. That’s why GPRS created SiteMap® (patent pending), a cloud-based infrastructure mapping software solution that provides accurate existing condition documentation to protect your assets and people.

Able to integrate with your existing GIS mapping system and securely accessible 24/7 from any computer, tablet or smartphone, SiteMap® eliminates communication silos and the mistakes, reworks, and change orders they cause. With the field-verified data collected by GPRS’ nationwide team of Project Managers at your fingertips exactly when and where you need it, you can plan, design, manage, dig, and build better.

Johnson determined that the sewer line at Carnegie was a vitrified clay pipe. It’s a type of pipe he is intimately familiar with, having mapped most of the wastewater infrastructure in the City of Pittsburgh, which primarily consists of vitrified clay pipe.

Like clay pottery, vitrified clay pipe is hard to crush, but will snap when not properly supported or when placed under extreme pressure from an external source such as a tree root – or the foundation of a building built on top of it. Because Costa Contracting contacted GPRS to locate the pipe prior to laying the foundation for the building they were constructing, they ensured the safety and success of their project.

From sewer lines to skyscrapers, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize? Click below to schedule a service or request a quote today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What size pipes can GPRS inspect?

Our professional Video Pipe Inspection Project Managers have the capabilities to inspect pipes from 2 inches in diameter and up.

What deliverables does GPRS offer when conducting a Video Pipe Inspection?

GPRS is proud to offer WinCan reporting to our Video Pipe Inspection clients. Maintaining sewers starts with understanding sewer condition, and WinCan allows GPRS Project Managers to collect detailed, NASSCO-compliant inspection data. GPRS Project Managers not only inspect the interior condition of sewer pipes, laterals, and manholes – they can also provide a map of their location. The GPRS Mapping & Modeling Department can provide detailed GPS overlays and CAD files. Our detailed WinCan/NASSCO reports contain screenshots of the interior condition of the pipe segments that we inspect, as well as a video file for further evaluation, documentation, and/or reference.

All this field-verified data is securely accessible 24/7 from SiteMap® (patent pending), GPRS’ cloud-based infrastructure mapping software solution.

Can GPRS locate pipes in addition to evaluating their integrity?

Yes! Our SIM and NASSCO-certified Project Managers use video pipe inspection technology equipped with sondes, which are instrument probes that allow them to ascertain the location of underground utilities from an inaccessible location. This allows them to use electromagnetic (EM) locating to map sewer systems at the same time they’re evaluating them for defects.

Does GPRS offer lateral launch services?

Yes, we offer lateral launch capabilities as part of our standard Video Pipe Inspection services.