Tech Topic: Pipe Lining
Less invasive than trenching, pipe lining is a godsend for your customers
Fixing broken pipes and patching that next leak are stopgap measures at best. A total repipe can be a messy and expensive project. That’s why plumbers and contractors are taking a good look at pipe restoration. This segment of the industry continues to grow. Weighing in on the subject this month are Brian LeMaire, CEO, of CuraFlo, and Amanda Strouse, who’s on the marketing and public relations team for Pipe Restoration Inc. and ACE DuraFlo.
Reeves Journal: What are the main methods of pipe lining?
CuraFlo: CuraFlo lines any metallic pipe with different technology as required to best suit the project, sometimes multiple technologies are required to complete one project. We line domestic water lines, heating and chilled water lines, fire suppression or sprinkler lines, drains, waste and vents, process piping or pneumatic lines.
One technology is “blow through.” We connect to the pipe, send in a treated hot air to dry the system, introduce a medium to clean the pipe — in a similar fashion to sand blasting — and then inject a two-part NSF 61 approved epoxy. We then cure the epoxy following NSF guidelines and return the line to service.
Another technology is to use CIPP on some piping such as drainage lines. We clean, camera and install the CIPP product let it cure and then do reinstatements and one final video inspection. Our third technology is to clean the pipe and then actually send in a spray head device to spray an epoxy coating on the wall of the pipe.
ACE DuraFlo: An increasing number of professionals are choosing pipe lining to restore and enhance aged, failing pipe systems in place, as opposed to destructive and disruptive repipes. Various different types of pipe lining methods are available, with epoxy coatings being the preferred process to rehabilitate pressurized pipe systems: hot and cold domestic water, water HVAC systems, recirculation lines, fire sprinkler systems, natural gas lines, etc.
Different manufacturers of epoxy coating technologies each use their own patents and formulas, so there are some varying differences with the epoxies and the application process. However, the majority of epoxy coating pipe lining systems follow these steps for application:
1. The entire process is completed using existing access points, preventing the need for destruction or business disruption to the property.
2. First, the interiors of the pipes are dried using clean, compressed air.
3. Next, the liquid epoxy is blown through the pipe system using compressed air and sometimes a vacuum assist.
4. Then the epoxy is left to cure for a calculated amount of time (for as little as 90 minutes when using the patented ePIPE process).
5. Finally, the epoxy has cured into a thin, but strong, barrier coating inside the pipes, preventing the water from interacting with problematic pipes, solder, flux or fittings on its way to the tap. The resulting barrier coating will protect the interior of the pipe system from pinhole leaks, slab leaks, lead and copper leaching, corrosion, buildup, rusty water and other types of failures for a longer period of time than if the pipe did not have the epoxy coating.
RJ: Why should plumbers consider re-line versus re-pipe for residential or commercial customers?
CuraFlo: Plumbers should consider this as another technology available to solve issue they see in the field. Most plumbers think, “I’m going to install this new material and it’s going to last forever.” Even I thought that when I was younger. As we grow we see products fail and need to be replaced or rehabilitated. With the technologies available now, why would I cut walls, ceilings or excavate when I can use a recently developed technology and provide a longer lasting product at a less expensive price to the owner? With all the competition these days, we need to be aware and accepting of all new technologies to stand out and be considered better than the rest.
ACE DuraFlo: More and more homeowners and business professionals are learning about pipe lining, or at least hearing the name, so it’s smart for a business to offer an increasingly popular technology. When a repipe will jeopardize the vulnerable structure of a building or will halt business operations, causing revenue loss or will increase a renovation’s cost tenfold - pipe lining is clearly the better alternative. Because of this, pipe lining has a ton of room for expansion and growth.
Pipe lining’s many benefits for residential, commercial and government clients include a smaller investment (compared to a repipe) or a long-term investment that will surely pay off, an extremely faster project turnaround time, a more reasonable and flexible project schedule, minimal building disruption, little to no tenant/resident displacement, little to no business downtime, greatly reduced construction noises and mess, being an eco-friendly solution (no guilt from sending waste to landfills), a prolonged pipe system lifetime and the comfort of knowing that a proven technology, such as pipe lining, will prevent pipe system catastrophes.
When you decide to add ePIPE pipe lining technology to your plumbing business, many benefits you can expect include an increase in your customer base, an increase (or doubling) of revenue, an increase in happiness from customers, the ability to have more projects while using fewer crew members and, last but not least, by having pipe lining in your plumbing business’s tool repertoire, it opens the door to well-paying commercial projects.
RJ: What are the latest innovations/improvements in these products?
ACE DuraFlo: Lead Patent – ePIPE was granted its fourteenth patent in 2016 for our barrier coating reducing lead or metals leaching to under 10 ug/l (ppb), which is the World Health Organization’s cut-off guidelines for lead. This is the second patent we have received for lead reduction. ePIPE is the industry’s fastest and most effective in-place pipe lining process to bring leached lead and other metal contaminants down to safe levels. ePIPE is also the only known epoxy coating technology awarded patents to control lead leaching. ePIPE is approved by NSF for an immediate return to service in as little as 90 minutes, the fastest return to service epoxy lining product on the market, designed to protect drinking water pipes from leaks and contaminants.
LeadSmart serves as a comprehensive solution to bring a building’s water’s lead and copper levels to EPA compliance, among other benefits. The specific LeadSmart approach includes a review of possible sources of lead leaching, corrective actions (which includes the application of the patented ePIPE pipe lining process) and, where necessary, replacement of suspected lead contributing fixtures.
The ePIPE team worked in conjunction with Providence Water in Providence, R.I. during the summer of 2016 to restore a section of underground public lead service lines to ultimately bring lead leaching to a safe level for residents. There wasn’t any digging or destruction on the private homeowner’s property or landscape from ePIPE’s work. Each branch line was restored in four hours, thanks to ePIPE’s fast-curing epoxy. After the project was completed, the lead level dropped to below measurable cut-off levels. A memorable part of the project was a very old, historical tree was located directly above a lead service line to one of the houses, but the tree was untouched and unharmed thanks to ePIPE.
After the Flint, Mich., lead crisis, and after several mainstream news organizations outed schools that were providing lead-tainted toxic water, we started to receive inquiries from educational facilities that were requesting ePIPE to keep their water safe. In 2016, ePIPE helped more than 40 U.S. educational facilities become compliant with EPA’s lead leaching regulations. Our CEO and prominent pipe lining expert, Larry Gillanders, has been in talks with the real estate industry, urging them to include disclosure rules about lead contributors in the water system for homeowners, renters and tenants.
RJ: What do installers need to know about re-line systems?
1. They need to know how to cut into them if they are doing an alteration.
2. They need to know why they are using a particular product or technology.
3. They should know why the original failed and why it’s being repaired.
4. They should know all the different technologies or options available to repair or remediate.
5. They should be qualified and trained in that technology or work with someone that is.
6. They should know the proper curing
ACE DuraFlo: When you decide to add ePIPE pipe lining technology to your plumbing business, many benefits you can expect include an increase in your customer base, an increase of revenue, an increase in happiness from customers, the ability to have more projects while using fewer crew members and, last but not least, by having pipe lining in your plumbing business’s tool repertoire, it may open the door to well-paying commercial projects.
ePIPE is the world leader in small diameter epoxy coating applications and also holds the title of having the fastest curing epoxy, to restore water piping systems, on the market. Not all pipe lining technologies are made equally.
RJ: How can plumbers/contractors get into this arena?
CuraFlo: Best way is the internet, Google key words and find out about the different technologies and products. They need to ask a lot of questions ask questions. Attend trade shows, they are available many times a year and have all the people there to assist and help. The bad part they have many people to sell you something and you learn later it’s not a good product
There are also many associations that have training classes available to upgrade or introduce technologies to you or your company. Find a technology that interests you and call someone not in your area. Most people don’t mind helping someone. You will be surprised when you call someone; people like to talk about themselves. Lastly, I don’t mind advising people about technologies or products, I’ve been doing this a long time in one form or another and will answer a few questions if asked.
ACE DuraFlo: We offer training and ongoing support through our world headquarters located in Southern California. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation phone call to answer all of your questions! Or, you can visit www.aceduraflo.com for more information.