Standard Active Last Updated: May 16, 2017
ASTM F3220-17

Standard Practice for Prioritizing Sewer Pipe Cleaning Operations by Using Transmissive Acoustic Inspection

Significance and Use

4.1 Significance: 

4.1.1 Collection system maintenance requires allocating cleaning resources to the right place prior to system failure (sanitary sewer overflows, mainline blockages, and building backups). Transmissive acoustic inspection provides a tool to assist in allocating cleaning resources by prioritizing pipe segments based on their blockage assessment and thereby facilitating efficient cleaning resource allocation.

4.1.2 This standard practice provides minimum requirements and suggested practices regarding the transmissive acoustic inspection of gravity-fed sewer line blockage assessment to meet the needs of maintenance personnel, engineers, contractors, authorities, regulatory agencies, and financing institutions.

4.2 Limitations and Appropriate Uses: 

4.2.1 The blockage assessment provided by the transmissive acoustic inspection may not resolve the type of blockage(s) within the pipe segment nor resolve the location(s) of the blockage(s) within the pipe segment.

4.2.2 Due to the physics associated with transmissive acoustic inspection, the blockage assessment may be confounded due to:

(1) Structural designs resulting in poor acoustic coupling,

(2) Pipe segments completely filled with water, for example, full pipe sag or inverted siphon, and

(3) Transient conditions within the pipe, for example, active lateral discharge or temporary flow surcharges.

These issues are addressed as part of the performance criteria specified in X1.5.

4.2.3 Due to physics associated with acoustics and trade-offs in equipment design for conducting transmissive acoustic inspection, there are limitations based on the following pipe segment attributes:

(1) Pipe diameter,

(2) Pipe segment length,

(3) MH depth, and

(4) Flow levels.

Inspections conducted outside the manufacturer’s recommended ranges for these pipe segment attributes may result in the transmissive acoustic blockage assessment deviating from the performance criteria specified in X1.5.

4.2.4 Inspections conducted between non-adjacent MHs, for example, skipping an intermediate MH, may result in the transmissive acoustic blockage assessment deviating from the performance criteria specified in X1.5.


1.1 This practice covers procedures for assessing the blockage within gravity-fed sewer pipes using transmissive acoustics for the purpose of prioritizing sewer pipe cleaning operations.2 The assessment is based on an acoustic receiver measuring the acoustic plane wave transmitted through the pipe segment under test in order to evaluate the blockage condition of an entire segment and to provide an onsite assessment of the blockage within the pipe segment. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)3

1.2 The scope of this practice covers the use of the transmissive acoustic inspection as a screening tool. The blockage assessment provided by the acoustic inspection should be used to identify and prioritize pipe segments requiring further maintenance action such as cleaning or visual inspection, or both. Thereby, also identifying the pipe segments which are sufficiently clean and do not require additional maintenance action.

1.3 This standard practice does not address structural issues with the pipe wall.

1.4 The inspection process requires access to the manhole (MH) from ground level. It does not require physical access to the sewer line by either the equipment or the operator.

1.5 This standard practice applies to all types of pipe material.

1.6 The inspection process requires access to sewers and operations along roadways or other locations that are safety hazards. This standard does not describe the hazards likely to be encountered or the safety procedures that must be carried out when operating in these hazardous environments.

1.7 The values stated in inch-pound units are to be regarded as standard. The values given in parentheses are mathematical conversions to SI units that are provided for information only and are not considered standard.

1.8 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.9 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 04.12
Developed by Subcommittee: F36.20
Pages: 7
DOI: 10.1520/F3220-17
ICS Code: 93.030