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Restore pipes and water quality with epoxy lining

Skip Wolfe,
Vice President, Sales and Marketing

We’re here with Skip Wolfe, VP of Sales and Marketing for CuraFlo, an industry leader in pipe restoration. Skip is here to talk with us today about the best solutions to restore failing pipes. CuraFlo’s epoxy lining system is a safe, cost effective, and time saving alternative to total pipe replacement. 

Skip, tell us about the most common pipe problems you’ve seen
Pipe problems are really based on the age of the building and what type of plumbing they have.  Older condos and apartment buildings typically have galvanized plumbing, which will result in tenant complaints of low water pressure, discolored water and reddish brown stains in the sinks or tubs.  Newer buildings typically have copper piping which tends to fail by having pinhole leaks.  These leaks can be in the piping in the walls or ceilings, and a resident will notice water running out of a light fixture, or a water spot that appears on the wall.

So what are the options for addressing these problems?
There are essentially three options for addressing these problems:

  • Spot fix – wait until there is a problem, and then patch it or replace that section of pipe.  This is purely a short term solution and can be very time consuming and costly in the long run.
  • Repiping with copper or plastic piping - Repiping requires cutting into walls and ceilings and pulling out all of the existing plumbing and replacing with either copper or plastic piping. Once piping work is complete, it’s necessary to restore walls, ceilings, and tile work, which can be time intensive and costly.
  • Epoxy lining - Lining copper or galvanized steel pipes with epoxy coating offers the immediate benefit of restoring existing plumbing lines without ripping them out.  The process uses pressurized air to blow an epoxy coating through the pipe.  This epoxy fully coats the interior surface of the pipe to create a seamless, protective barrier. 

What is epoxy lining and how does the process work?
Epoxy lining is a less expensive, less invasive alternative to repiping. The process involves blowing an odorless, tasteless and completely safe CuraPoxy® through the pipe.   Epoxy lining is a 4 step process:

  • First we install isolation valves so that we can shut down the section of the building being lined so that the water can stay on in the rest of the building  - this allows us to do the project in a fully occupied building.
  • We then dry the pipes of the isolated section of the building using heated compressed air. 
  • Once the pipes are dry, we “sandblast” them with a specialized abrasive to remove all mineral deposits and sediment
  • Finally, we use the compressed air to blow the epoxy the pipe and left to cure – which takes about 5 hours.

This process is then repeated on each isolated section of the building.

What are the benefits of epoxy lining?
Benefits of epoxy lining include:

  • Minimal demolition of walls translates to lower project cost and less disruption to the tenants while generating far less landfill waste than repiping.
  •  Typical lining installations are shorter in duration than repiping project.
  • Protects against future corrosion and therefore prevents reoccurrence of the corrosion related problems.
  • New copper pipes are still subject to contact with water, and pipe deterioration will begin all over again.

 Is epoxy lining a safe, proven technology?
CuraFlo’s epoxy has been certified to meet ANSI/NSF 61, which is the certification standard for materials used in drinking water systems to ensure they will not leach any harmful toxins into the drinking water.

How long will it last?
Epoxy lining has been used in Europe for over 30 years and in North America for approximately 25 years.  The American Water Works Association conducted a study in 2006 on the projected lifespan of epoxy lining on municipal water pipes and found that epoxy lining can extend the lifespan of the pipe 40-60 years.

What kinds of symptoms should maintenance managers look for? How will they know if it’s a small problem vs. a big problem?
The key is frequency.  A one time isolated incident could be the result of installation error, or a pipe that got disturbed during remodeling.  Once the problems go from an isolated incident to an ongoing, repeat problem, indicates that it is a systemic problem that will only get worse with time and needs to be addressed.

What are some of the risks associated with waiting to address the problem?
Once the problem goes from an isolated incident to an ongoing problem, the risk of a severe failure will continue to increase.  While the problems usually start off as small pinhole leaks, they will typically continue to increase in size and frequency.  The biggest risk at this point is that a leak will go undetected for some time, causing water damage to the internal structure of the building and/or severe mold problems, or there will be a catastrophic pipe failure in which one of the ruptures and releases a large amount of water which can run down through 5, 10, 15 floors, damaging many individual suites/apartments. 

How do people get in touch with CuraFlo to find out more information?

Try Plumbing & Restrooms, Facilities Management, Maintenance & Operations for related news, articles, blogs, events and online resources.

posted:  8/3/2009

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