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Pipeline inspectors are professionals who are charged with the responsibility of checking pipe systems for any type of weaknesses or defects that may cause damage or an interruption in services. Because pipe systems are used to carry liquids, gases, and other compounds from a point of origin to a point of termination, the exact methods used in a given situation may be different. However, there are several basic pipeline instruction strategies that are employed in many different settings.
When new construction is taking place, a pipeline inspector can often begin with a visual inspection of the exposed pipe sections. The visual inspection is augmented with testing the seams at each point where a section of pipe is joined. This is extremely important, since any leakage could result in severe damage to any type of building.
On-site visual inspections are not unusual in any scenario where pipes are left exposed. Periodically, the pipeline inspector will walk the length of the pipe sections, looking for signs of deterioration, testing the joints of the system, and making note of any type of surface issues that may be present. Performing this type of inspection on a regular basis makes it possible to address potential problems before they can develop into major issues.
While visual pipeline inspection was once the only method employed by a pipeline inspector, more sophisticated approaches are generally employed to identify potential problems that are not apparent from even the most thorough visual inspection. One of these strategies is the use of x-ray technology. This type of construction inspection allows a pipeline inspector to view a scan of pipes that are encased in concrete or buried underground, making note of any apparent defects or signs of deterioration. As with the visual inspection, a pipeline inspector will use x-ray technology on a recurring basis to spot problems before they pose a significant threat.
One tool that the typical pipeline inspector employs is known as the pig. These devices, also known as robotic crawlers, are small enough to be placed into a pipeline and will travel with the flow of water or gas through the system. Generally, a pig is only slightly smaller than the interior of the pipe, making it possible for the device to also remove obstructions that have built up in any section of the system. Pigs are equipped with equipment that sends inspection data back to the inspector, noting the position of any defects or problems within the system.
Whether functioning as a construction inspector at new building sites or assessing the current condition of an older system or pipelines under a city or even an irrigation system on a tract of farmland, the pipeline inspector plays an important role in the process of public safety. By locating issues that could lead to a breakdown of the system, the inspector makes it possible to repair or replace defective sections of pipe before they pose a threat to humans living or working in the vicinity.