America’s municipal water systems comprise over 1.2 million miles of water mains, with 240,000 water main breaks annually. That results in considerable disruption to a city’s water supply plus the work, expense, and traffic disruption of replacing those pipes. On top of that, consider that roughly 18% of those aging pipes are constructed from asbestos cement. Initially installed in the 1930s, they are no longer installed but do need to be replaced.
Traditional underground pipe repair and replacement requires digging up water main pipes. But there’s a new approach that drops the digging and replacement. It’s called trenchless pipe lining. Here’s what it is, its significant advantages, and how it is used to provide municipal pipe rehabilitation to fix potable water systems.
What is Trenchless Pipe Rehabilitation?
Trenchless underground pipe rehabilitation is the process of restoring aging and deteriorating pipes. 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 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, thereby providing an easy replacement but with reduced water flow.
- Spray-In-Place Pipe Lining. An epoxy coating is sprayed inside the pipe using high-tech machinery. It bonds in a few hours, sealing the existing pipe from leaks.
What Are the Advantages of Spray in Place Trenchless Pipe Lining?
A quick review of the four types of pipe rehabilitation points out just a few challenges. With pipe bursting, there is still considerable digging and disruption involved. With cured-in-place linings, the bonding process can be quite challenging and can cause health-threatening noxious fumes. With slip lining, the smaller pipe requires more digging to manage the insertion process and reduces the water flow since the pipe has a smaller capacity. On the other hand, spray in place trenchless pipe lining offers several significant advantages.
- 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. Or access through existing manholes is the only requirement. This dramatically minimizes the required digging to gain access to the pipes to be rehabilitated.
- Limited Disruption. Trenchless pipe lining takes a fraction of the time required to dig up and replace pipes. It avoids shutting down roads, disrupting traffic patterns, requiring significant excavation/demolition and stays clear of long project timelines.
- Safe and Durable. Epoxy spray systems provide a protective barrier between the pipe and water. This prevents leaching into the water supply and any leaks from the pipes. The life expectancy is roughly 75 years.
- Cost-Effective. Replacing pipes is 50% to 75% more expensive than spray in place trenchless pipe lining. The cost of digging, removing, replacing, and shutting down the digging locations is substantially reduced.
Case Studies of Trenchless Pipe Rehabilitation
That summarizes the many advantages of trenchless spray in place pipe lining. But how does it work in practice? Here are four case studies selected from our project archives.
1880s Iron Water Main — Milton, Massachusetts
Spray In Place Systems (SIPS) recently rehabilitated a 100+ year-old 10-inch ductile iron water main. This line had severe tuberculation and a history of significant leaks and breaks. Since the 1880s, they have installed over 730,000 feet of water main pipes. Over that time, system breaks have plagued the underground system, growing more frequent over time.
Heavy erosion covered both the exterior and interior of these water mains. As a result, the municipality needed a quick and effective solution that offered minimal disruption. The spray-in-place pipe (SIPP) lining method fits their requirements perfectly.
A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) analysis using a remote-controlled camera system to travel through the mains allowed a close look at the damaged pipelines. Based on that review, a plan was established for lining the water mains. The epoxy system’s single-coat application and fast cure time minimized water service disruption and avoided traffic issues. Plus, it was very cost-effective compared to traditional pipe replacement.
100-Year-Old Drainage System Under Railroad Tracks — New York City MTA
SIPS recently rehabilitated a 100-year-old drainage system for the NYC Metropolitan Transit Authority. This system has vertical leaders that feed into concrete slabs that are several feet thick. The matrix of the drainage pipes was complex with multiple bends and sweeps and went underneath railroad tracks. These pipes enter larger drainage pipes owned by the NYC Department of Environmental Protection.
A CCTV camera process identified severe corrosion, ring cracks, and pieces of pipe sections obstructing the water flow. The obstructions were removed, and sectional CIPP repairs were made to several locations. After the repairs, a 3mm NSF 61 approved, zero VOC, single coat 100% solids epoxy was applied along the entire length. This ensured one monolithic coating, bonding, and adhering to the host pipe and bladder patches, sealing the entire repair. Once completed, the ‘like new’ pipe has an engineered life of over 75 years.
Failing Co-Generation Pipes — New York City Major Airport
SIPS rehabilitated varying diameters of co-generation pipes, ranging from 10” to 36” and up to 500 feet at a time. These pipes run under runways and terminals at a major New York airport. This line required an innovative approach as the pipes have very limited accessibility, restricted work hours, and significant corrosion issues.
The pipes distribute superheated 250°F water, and when tides rise, the exterior of the pipes gets wet, creating steam vapors. After CCTV inspection and planning, our Robotic Spray Application system applied 3mm of high temperature tolerant, zero VOC, single coat 100% solids epoxy along the entire length. This ensures one monolithic coating bonding and adhering to the host pipe. This added a significant increase in system insulation values allowing chiller output temperatures to be raised, boiler temperatures to be lowered, and subsequent consumption to be lowered. All of that led to significant efficiencies and savings.
Ductile Iron Water Main — Chicagoland Area
SIPS recently rehabilitated a 100-year-old 8-inch ductile iron water main in the Chicagoland area. This line had a history of major leaks and breaks and had been entirely out of service for eight to ten months without water flowing.
Using the SIPS Robotic Spray Application System’s CCTV camera process, we located the breaks and strategized the approach to both cleaning and addressing the breaks. We decided to use separate CIPP bladder patches at the breakpoints. We then inserted them ‘in-situ’ into the pipe from 6×6 access points spaced approximately every 600 feet along the line.
We applied 3mm of NSF 61-approved, zero VOC, single coat 100% solids epoxy along the entire length with the Spray Application System. This ensured one monolithic coating, bonding, and adhering to the host pipe and bladder patches. This sealing made sure that no water got behind the CIPP patches. Once completed, the ‘like new’ pipe has an engineered life of over 75 years.
Why Choose Spray In Place Solutions (SIPS) for Pipe Rehabilitation?
Plenty of trenchless technologies exist, but Spray In Place Solutions (SIPS) offers a state-of-the-art, technologically advanced method that far outperforms the competition. So don’t just take our word for it. You can explore our many successful projects, from Maryland to Texas to Wisconsin to Georgia.
Spray In Place Solutions (SIPS) is certified compliant with ASTM 729. Therefore, you will not need to worry about wildlife being harmed by our materials or processes. We are also certified compliant with NSF/ANSI 61. This means rigorous testing has been done to ensure our epoxy coating is safe for drinking water.
Read more in our blog: 5 Benefits of Potable Water Underground Pipe Lining
Ready to Get Started With Trenchless Pipe Lining to Fix Your Potable Water Problems?
Are you ready to discuss how Spray In Place Solutions’ (SIPS) innovative process can help you enjoy the advantages of trenchless technology? Then, fill out our Pipe Lining Questionnaire today to get a quote for your project.