There are a number of pipe lining solutions in use today to support underground infrastructure maintenance, providing exceptionally cost-effective pipe repair options. This article examines the need for eco-friendly restoration methods, covers the innovative plumbing solutions available, and provides a comparative analysis of trenchless pipe restoration.
What Are the Concerns with Underground Infrastructure Maintenance?
There are three main concerns regarding underground infrastructure maintenance in the USA: the aging infrastructure, the materials used in the pipes, and the replacement cost. A prime example of aging pipe infrastructure includes Philadelphia’s water mains, half installed before 1930 and some installed before the Civil War.
Then there are the significant concerns around the extensive use of asbestos cement pipes, many installed decades ago. And, of course, lead pipes, with the Natural Resources Defense Council finding between 9 million and 12 million lead pipes spread across all 50 states. Pulling that together, the American Water Works Association estimates a cost of at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years in replacement costs alone.
Plus, there are concerns about some methods used for pipe replacement or restoration. For example, digging up pipes and replacing them is costly and disruptive and can damage the environment. There are even concerns about some forms of trenchless pipe restoration, with Scientific American documenting the mounting health concerns with pipes lined with plastic.
What Are the Options for Cost-Effective Pipe Repair and Replacement?
One pipe repair and replacement option is to dig up the pipes, toss the old pipes, and replace the pipes with new ones. In their article about replacing asbestos cement pipes, Water World states the total replacement cost is $1 million per mile.
The other, much more cost-effective pipe repair or replacement option is no-dig technology or trenchless pipe restoration. This innovative plumbing solution is also an eco-friendly restoration method.
What Is No-Dig Technology or Trenchless Pipe Restoration? | Pipe Lining Solutions
Trenchless pipe restoration, or pipe lining solutions, is restoring aging and deteriorating pipes without digging up the pipes. It offers cost-effective pipe repair and longevity of pipe rehabilitation up to 75 years. There are four main types of trenchless technology.
- Pipe Bursting and Replacement. This involves breaking and expanding the existing sewer line. It is then replaced with another pipe. The broken pieces remain underground.
- Cured-in-Place Pipe (CIPP) Linings. Here, a tube is inserted through an existing pipe. That tubing is then bonded to the inside pipe surface.
- Slip-Lining Insertion. This approach inserts a smaller pipe into the existing pipe, providing an easy replacement but reducing water flow.
- Spray-In-Place Pipe (SIP) Lining. A high-build epoxy coating is sprayed inside the pipe using high-tech machinery. It bonds in a few hours, sealing the existing pipe from leaks.
These innovative plumbing and pipe lining solutions offer cost-effective pipe repair and eco-friendly restoration methods. Let’s dig deeper, pun intended, into a comparative analysis of pipe repair options.
Pipe Bursting and Replacement Details
Pipe bursting uses a hydraulic or pneumatic expansion head as a bursting tool to push the existing pipe outward until it breaks apart. This provides a space for the new pipe while avoiding digging up the existing pipe.
The bursting tool is pulled through the pipe using a cable and winch. As it creates space through the bursting process, it also pulls along a replacement pipe, immediately filling the void created by the burst pipe.
This process has all the advantages of no-dig technology, including reduced cost and disruption. It can also be used to increase the size of the replacement pipe over the existing pipe. The downside is that an extensive access point is required. Plus, it’s unsuitable for some pipe materials, including ductile iron pipe and reinforced concrete.
Cured-in-Place Pipe (CIPP) Details
With a cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) lining, a flexible tube is inserted through an existing pipe. That tubing is then bonded to the inside pipe surface.
The process involves a video inspection of the pipe to be restored. That then dictates the needed cleaning tools and processes. The cleaning removes corrosion, roots, and clogs.
Once cleaned, an epoxy-saturated woven fiber liner is pulled into place along with a rubber bladder. The bladder is inflated with high-pressure steam, pressing the liner against the existing pipe wall. The heat from the steam is used to cure or harden the liner. Once cured, over one hour to thirty hours, depending on the pipe size, the bladder is withdrawn, and the pipe is ready for service. The average lifetime is up to 50 years.
Unfortunately, that lengthy heating and curing process can cause health-threatening, noxious fumes that spread throughout the sewer lines, exposing people to hazardous air pollutants such as styrene, methylene chloride, and dibutyl phthalate. Another drawback is that the liners must be manufactured for the specific-sized pipe.
Slip-Lining Insertion Details
As noted above, slip-lining insertion involves installing a smaller pipe inside an existing larger pipe. Typical pipe sizes run from eight inches up to sixty inches.
There are two methods of slip-lining: continuous and segmental. Continuous slip-lining pulls a long continuous pipe through the existing pipe. The replacement pipe material depends on the bending required to move it through manholes or other access points and into the pipe.
Segmental slip-lining inserts pipe sections into the existing pipe, followed by more sections that push the pipes through the entire length of the existing pipe. To provide a water-tight seal between the segments, grouting must be applied.
This type of trenchless pipe restoration is cost-effective, easy to install, and requires tools and equipment that are commonly available. It does, however, significantly reduce the inside diameter of the pipe, resulting in a substantially lower capacity and flow rate.
Spray-in-Place Technology Details | Pipe Lining Solutions
An epoxy coating is sprayed inside the pipe using high-tech machinery for a spray-in-place (SIP) lining application. It bonds in a few hours, sealing the existing pipe from leaks.
When spraying epoxy with spray in place linings, the resin heats up only when it comes into contact with the pipe surface. That also allows curing within 2 to 3 hours rather than the two- to three-day requirement for cured-in-place epoxy coatings for sewer lines.
The Pros and Cons of Spray-in-Place Technology | Pipe Lining Solutions
Spray-in-place epoxy pipe lining offers several advantages over digging and repiping sewer lines.
- Minimal Digging. There’s no need to dig up the entire pipe. Often, only a 6×6 foot access pit is needed every 650 feet. In some cases, access through existing manholes is the only requirement. It requires only 5% of the trenching and excavating time needed for repiping.
- Limited Disruption. Spray-in-place epoxy pipe coating takes roughly 15% of the time required to dig up and replace pipes. It avoids shutting down facilities as the repairs are underway, which can take a considerable time for an entire repiping project.
- Safe and Durable. Epoxy spray systems provide a protective barrier between the pipe and wastewater. This prevents any leaks from the pipes and environmental hazards. The life expectancy is roughly 75 years.
- Cost Effective. Repiping is 50% to 75% more expensive than spray-in-place epoxy coating for sewer lines. The cost of digging, removing, replacing, and shutting down the digging locations is substantially reduced.
Compared to the other no-dig technologies, Spray-in-Place technology minimizes the reduction in pipe diameter, is easier to apply over inserting pipes or linings, and greatly reduces curing time and the potential for noxious fumes. It’s also a far more cost-effective pipe repair than pipe bursting and replacement. It is also known for its considerable epoxy lining efficiency.
There are a few potential downsides with sewer line epoxy linings compared to repiping.
- New Pipes. Of course, after repiping, you end up with all new pipes after considerable digging, expense, and disruption.
- Pipe Capacity. An epoxy lining does reduce the pipe capacity by the thickness of the lining. This is usually relatively minimal, but it is a factor.
- Tuberculation and Corrosion. Tuberculation can be removed from the pipe’s interior, but it is still there. It can re-emerge. Likewise, internal epoxy coating for sewer lines will not address exterior corrosion.
- Pipe Surface Preparation and Application. If the pipe surface is not prepared correctly, it can lead to insufficient epoxy bonding. Our visual inspection process by robotic closed-circuit television identifies this problem before the epoxy lining is applied. Similarly, uneven distribution of epoxy can happen when a blown-in application process is used. Therefore, using a spray-in-place system followed by a robotic video inspection is best.
The challenges from pipe surface preparation and application are primarily based on the experience and expertise of the epoxy pipe lining companies. The best companies use the best technology coupled with world-class processes.
What Is the Spray-in-Place Solutions (SIPS) Process?
There are lots of epoxy pipe lining companies. The key to selecting the right one is to examine closely the process they use. It must follow detailed procedures to ensure the lining corrects the problem and lasts for the estimated 75-year lifespan. Here’s the process we use.
- Pipe Mapping. We map the pipe to verify project details. A robotic closed-circuit television camera examines the entire length of the pipe and identifies all issues.
- Drag Scraping. A drag scraper, pulled in both directions, removes rust and debris. That also helps return the pipe to its original diameter.
- High-Pressure Water Jetting. Water jetting is then used to remove any remaining scaling, dirt, and film.
- Surface Prep Verification. At this point, our robotic closed-circuit camera is used to verify that the pipe has been cleaned sufficiently for the epoxy application.
- Spin Casting Epoxy Application. A state-of-the-art robotic spin cast system applies the epoxy to the pipe. During the application, the epoxy mix ratio, temperature, and speed of the spray head are continuously monitored to ensure the correct thickness is obtained.
- Curing and Final Inspection. The pipe is fully submersible after a brief two to three-hour cure time. Then, we conduct a full inspection using the robotic closed-circuit television to verify full coverage.
Why Spray-in-Place Solutions (SIPS) Stands Out
When choosing among pipe liner companies, ensuring they use the best epoxy coatings and follow all health standards is essential. Spray-In-Place Solutions uses an epoxy that is certified compliant with the newly updated health effects criteria of NSF/ANSI/CAN 600. This ensures that rigorous testing has determined that it is safe for drinking water. Plus, no wildlife will be harmed by our materials or processes.
Ready to Get Started with Trenchless Pipe Lining Solutions to Fix Your Sewer Pipe Problems?
Are you ready to discuss how Spray In Place Solutions’ (SIPS) innovative process can help you enjoy the advantages of trenchless technology? Then, please fill out our Pipe Lining Questionnaire today to get a quote for your project.