What Is the Difference Between Pipe Repair and Pipe Rehabilitation?

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Pipe repair and pipe rehabilitation are not the same thing, but these terms are often used interchangeably. If you’re responsible for pipe maintenance for a home, a commercial setting, or a municipality, you will need to know the difference. Being able to discern between pipe repair and pipe rehabilitation is essential for making the right decisions. While either one can be your best choice, depending on the circumstance, both are clearly indicated in some situations but not in others.

At the most basic level, pipe repair involves fixing problems that arise spontaneously. On the other hand, pipe rehabilitation involves restoring pipe function to what it was when the pipes were first laid. Spray In Place offers innovative rehabilitation solutions that give you an alternative to costly repairs. Let’s take a look at some of the major differences between pipe repair and pipe rehabilitation. 

Callout 1: close-up of sprayed interior pipe by SIPs workers- quote from text about difference between pipe repair and pipe rehabilitation

Are the Pipes in an Urban Area or a Rural Area?

Pipe rehabilitation is performed far more often in big cities than out in the country. Why is that? For one thing, pipe systems in large cities are far more complex than in the country, and they carry a higher load of water pressure and sewage over the same period of time. Rehabilitation can be more cost-effective in big cities, but in rural areas, it’s sometimes easier to make repairs as issues arise. There’s often more room between pipes, and fewer structures built over pipes, in rural areas. 

Read more in our blog: Sewer Force Main: How It Works and How to Repair It

Urban Pipe Repair: More Complex and Problematic

Also, out in the country, repairing pipes is less of a community problem than in big cities. Major traffic backups aren’t as likely, and there are fewer roads, sidewalks and driveways that would need to be demolished for extensive digging. In rural areas, there are also fewer other underground structures that may interfere with pipe repair. In the city, multiple sewer lines, cable lines, and and other underground lines are often layered on top of one another.

Houston, Texas: Demonstrating the Value of Pipe Rehabilitation in Urban Settings

Rehabilitation solutions, like those offered by Spray In Place, can be a life saver in large cities. The city of Houston, Texas serves as a great example of this trend. With more than 6,000 miles of sewage lines, working on Houston’s pipe system is not a simple task. When the city discovered corrosion, leaks, and a host of other issues in a major section of concrete pipe, it happened to be buried under a major roadway allowing motorists to enter and leave the city. Houston’s light rail system was also positioned so that invasive pipe repairs would create the need for a shutdown.

In a rural setting, removing and replacing the affected section of pipe might have been more possible. However, If the city opted for traditional, invasive repair methods, Houston transit would have been significantly impacted for an extended period of time. Luckily, the city was able to procure a rehabilitation solution that didn’t require a shutdown. By applying a safe, spray-on lining to the affected pipes’ interior, city officials were able to solve the issue without halting the flow of traffic. 

Callout 2: Pipe Rehabilitation is performed more often in big cities - 3 reasons listed

What Is the Age and Condition of the Pipes?

When pipe repairing is needed, it becomes a pressing priority that simply can’t wait. Even if pipes are new, a leak can spring up out of nowhere. Flushing of inappropriate items can lead to sudden clogs, or pipes can freeze, corrode or become contaminated. Tree roots can suddenly intrude into a pipe’s structure, or natural disasters such as earthquakes can affect pipes’ integrity. Repairs are often done when pipes become unusable or unsafe.

The West Texas A&M University Dining Hall: A Case Study in Pipe Repair

Pipe repairing must be done quickly when problems arise spontaneously. An example of this occurred when the West Texas A&M University’s primary dining hall began to experience poor water quality. Pipes dating back to the 1960s were corroding and making water unsafe. The school was faced with the necessity of removing and replacing the piping for a 56,000 square foot building. All work had to be completed over the school’s winter break, before students returned to campus. Ultimately, it took eight days to complete the project. School maintenance staff benefited from specialized training before completing the work themselves.

However, pipe rehabilitation is often performed to counteract natural, expected signs of pipe aging. Regular pipe maintenance can help planners predict when rehabilitation will be needed and catch issues before they become emergencies. Engineers can use data to help municipal authorities plan for pipe rehabilitation in advance. 

The truth is that many of America’s existing pipe systems are aging out. In fact, many types of American infrastructure are gradually deteriorating due to insufficient funding. As the American urban and suburban populations suddenly grew at key points in the twentieth century, pipe systems sprang up quickly to meet demand. Many of these systems are now at the end of their natural life. These days, water main breaks, dangerous leaks, and other crises are often the result. Since pipes generally need rehabilitation at the end of their natural life cycle, pipe rehabilitation is becoming increasingly common today.

Callout 3: Close-up of interior of aged, dirty pipe- Many of America's pipe systems are aging out- 3 facts listed

Why Is Regular Maintenance So Important?

Regular pipe maintenance is crucial if you want to save money on pipe repair and pipe rehabilitation. For one thing, pipe maintenance helps you uncover issues, such as developing leaks or corrosion, before they become emergencies. It can also improve the quality of water and keep pipes cleaner and safer.

One important aspect of pipe maintenance is water testing, which can determine whether any harmful minerals or chemicals are present. It can be tempting to leave small issues alone until they become more pressing. However, small plumbing leaks can cause environmental contamination leading to significant health hazards. Neglecting a leak can also waste water, and can lower water pressure and raise water bills for everyone involved. If a small clog is detected, it’s unlikely to go away on its own–it will become worse and worse until service is disrupted.

It’s important to remember that regular pipe maintenance can’t prevent the need for pipe repair or rehabilitation. It can definitely decrease the sudden need for repairs. However, all pipes have a finite shelf life, and they will eventually need repair or rehabilitation. It’s hard to predict exactly when this will strike, but regular pipe maintenance can help prevent any surprises.

Read more in our blog: 5 Benefits of Potable Underground Pipe Lining

What Are My Options for Pipe Repair and Pipe Rehabilitation?

Traditional non trenchless pipe repair methods involve digging down to access or remove affected pipes, then repairing or replacing them as needed. However, these methods are typically costly and time-consuming. Today, trenchless rehabilitation methods are available, so you can avoid the cost of excavation in many scenarios.

Trenchless pipe rehabilitation methods include pipe bursting, cured-in-place linings, slip lining, and spray-in-place technologies. Of these, spray-in-place solutions are often the most advanced, reliable, and cost-effective option. Spray In Place uses advanced rehabilitation equipment and technology to deliver exceptional results.

How We Conduct Underground Pipe Rehabilitation Without Digging

Callout 4: Regular pipe maintenance is crucial to save money on pipe repair and pipe rehabilitation

Spray-In-Place Technology: Innovative, Safe And Effective

Spray In Place Solutions uses a revolutionary process to perform pipe rehabilitation. First, a camera is inserted into the pipe to aid in planning. Then, pipes are cleaned using drag scrapers and water jetting. After a camera verifies that the process is complete, we use state of the art robotic technology to apply a safe, environmentally friendly epoxy coating to the pipes’ lining. After curing for two to three hours, the pipe surfaces are fully ready to be submerged. Pipe rehabilitation doesn’t have to be time-consuming and invasive anymore!
Want to learn more about Spray In Place Solutions’ innovative process? Fill out our Pipe Lining Questionnaire to obtain a quote today!