On past remodeling projects I've often found myself wishing for X-ray vision so I could see inside a wall or some other inaccessible space. But recently I bought a neat little tool that does the trick just as effectively: Ridgid's SeeSnake Micro, a 3/4-inch-diameter video camera on a 3-foot flexible wand. To look inside a wall, ceiling, or chase, you simply drill a 3/4-inch hole, insert the camera — which is equipped with a pair of adjustable LEDs — and watch the 2.4-inch color LCD monitor on the tool's handle. Since the product is waterproof, you can also send it down a toilet or drain to look for lost objects or obstructions.
It comes with a mirror, a hook, and a magnet, all of which clip onto the end of the camera. Optional 3-foot extensions (part no. 26658) lengthen the wand up to 30 feet.
My SeeSnake gets a lot of use. On one bathroom remodel, my plumber used it to check the solder joints and connections for a multihead shower. On the same project, my electrician used it to trace some wiring in a joist bay crowded with ductwork. Then he used the accessory hook to snag a wire he'd fished from above. I used the camera to look for leaks while testing the jetted tub. This is a tool you'll find countless applications for.
The kit comes in a soft padded carrying case and weighs a little over a pound. The camera is powered by four AAA batteries. I didn't measure the runtime, but Ridgid's estimate of three hours sounds about right.
If you look around, you should be able to find a SeeSnake Mini for less than $200, which is a bargain when you consider the headaches it can prevent. It's not a bad sales tool, either: I've discovered that pulling it out to look for hidden problems is a good way to impress new clients when you're looking at a potential job.
Dave Haines owns Haines Contracting in Doylestown, Pa.