Copper is the go-to choice when it comes to commercial building plumbing systems. It’s durable, doesn’t run and is antimicrobial, but it is susceptible to corrosion. Thankfully, epoxy pipe lining can extend the useful like of your copper plumbing pipes by as much as 50 years.
Understanding Why Copper Is the Primary Choice for Commercial Plumbing Systems
For many existing and new commercial buildings, copper plumbing pipes are the go-to choice. They have a proven record in durability and have been rated to last 50 years or longer. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 5.3 million miles of copper pipes have been installed in the United States since 1963.
- Can be recycled
- Doesn’t rust
- Environmentally friendly
- Great for hot and cold water lines
- Low cost of ownership
- Performs well in all weather conditions
- Resistant to microbes and germs
- Resists punctures and abrasions from external forces
Two Reasons Why Copper Pipes May Need to Be Lined with Epoxy
Even with copper’s positive benefits, there may still be instances where it could benefit from being lined with an epoxy coating. Two of the most common causes that may lead to the need to line your copper pipes include pitting corrosion and galvanic metal corrosion.
1. Pitting Corrosion
While copper plumbing pipes are resistant to rust and bacterial and microbe contamination, they are still susceptible from corrosion due to the chemistry of your water. There are three types of water that cause pitting corrosion, including hard water with a pH of between 7.0 and 7.8, soft water with a pH below 7.2 and soft water with a pH above 8.0.
- Hard Water pH Between 7.0 and 7.8 – Deep, narrow pitting that usually occurs in cold water lines
- Soft Water pH Below 7.2 – Extremely narrow pitting that occurs in hot water pipes with temperatures above 140 degrees
- Soft Water pH Above 8.0 – Occurs in cold water pipes, leading to blue-colored water and wide, shallow pitting in the pipe wall
Pitting corrosion always results in pinhole leaks in copper water pipes, and since most copper pipes are located behind walls, the leaks may not be readily noticeable. However, if you notice a drop in water pressure in part or all of your multi-unit residential building or commercial building, see stains or water spots on walls or notice a higher than normal water bills, you may need to have your pipes lined with epoxy in order to seal the leaks and extend the useful lives of your copper plumbing pipes, or you may want to consider replacing your plumbing pipes.
2. Galvanic Metal Corrosion
Galvanic metal corrosion is also known as dissimilar metal corrosion. While this is rare in copper water pipes, it is still possible. This type of corrosion occurs when two dissimilar metals are in contact with each other in the presence of an electrolyte. For copper pipes, this can occur when a stainless steel pipe or fitting has been installed in the copper system. When this occurs, the stainless steel fitting or pipe often corrodes much faster than normal, resulting in leaks and blowouts. To solve this problem, it may be necessary to line the pipes with epoxy in order to eliminate the electrolyte from coming into contact with the metals, which in this case would be the water flowing through your pipes, or you can choose to replace the dissimilar metal with a metal that is closer to copper.
Epoxy Line or Replace Your Copper Pipes
When it comes to repairing leaking and corroded copper plumbing pipes, there are two main choices. You can choose to replace them with copper or another type of plumbing pipe, or you can have them lined with an epoxy coating.
Pipe replacement, also known as a repipe, is a popular choice for many commercial property owners and multi-unit residential owners. This is primarily because it’s the first solution that comes to mind, and if all the plumbing pipes are replaced with new copper pipes, PVC, CPVC or PEX, the building owner in Chicago can expect them to last their entire useful lives and experience years of low-maintenance and leak-free use.
The downfall with repiping is the total cost to install and the length of time it takes to completely remove the old pipes and install new plumbing pipes. In order to remove your old plumbing pipes, the Chicago plumber will need to cut through drywall and remove finishes in order to reach the existing pipes. Once the new pipes are installed, all the damaged drywall and finishes will need to be replaced and repaired. This can increase the total cost to install and the time it takes to complete the project.
Epoxy Lining Copper Plumbing Pipes
The second way to repair your leaking copper plumbing pipes is to line them with an epoxy coating. When the total cost to install new pipes and repair drywall and other finishes is taken into consideration, it can be less expensive to install an epoxy coating. Epoxy coatings also take less time to install than replacing plumbing pipes, which means water service is often restored faster than with a traditional pipe replacement.
The pipe lining process starts with an inspection of your existing plumbing system. This is done in order to determine if installing an epoxy coating would be beneficial for your potable water pipes. If it is, epoxy lining is recommended and an estimate and timeline to install are provided along with a detailed report of the condition of your existing copper pipes.
Epoxy Plumbing Pipe Lining with Nu Flow, Serving Chicago
When you choose to install an epoxy coating to repair your leaking, corroded copper pipes, our technicians at Nu Flow, serving Chicago, explain the entire process to you and provide you with an installation timeline. This timeline tells you and the residents of your building which pipes are going to be lined and how long the pipe lining process is expected to take.
When we line your pipes, we try to use existing access points, this means that we do not have to remove large sections of drywall, and if we do need to cut through your drywall, we install an access point that consists of a frame and a small door. This means that you do not have to replace the drywall, and if you ever need to have those pipes worked on again, there’s already a door in place.
The process always begins with the thorough cleaning of your existing copper pipes. This removes any corrosion in the pipes down to the pipe wall and maximizes the internal diameter of the pipe. Next, we connect equipment to your pipes that supplies pressurized air and add the epoxy resin. The epoxy resin is then blown through your potable water pipes. As it moves through the pipes, it coats the copper metal and seals any pinhole leaks. Once it has cured, the water flowing through your plumbing pipes won’t come into contact with the copper. This helps prevent future corrosion and leaks.