Are you concerned about how to repair copper pipes inside a concrete slab? If you have leaking copper pipes in a concrete slab or behind bricks or cinder blocks, you should be concerned. This is because you cannot see pipes that are hidden behind walls, ceilings, and under foundation slabs. Of course, we know why builders and architects hide the pipes. It’s to improve the visual aesthetic of the interior of the building. Unfortunately, repairing pipes that are embedded in concrete and located behind masonry can be expensive because the plumber has to dig or drill through the surface in order to reach the plumbing pipes. Once the pipes are repaired, you’ll have to hire another company to fix the damage to the concrete and/or masonry, which adds to the bill. The good news is that you don’t always have to choose traditional pipe replacement when you have a slab leak. You can choose the ‘no dig’ option, which is epoxy pipelining.
What Is a No Dig Plumbing Repair?
If you don’t think about your plumbing pipes very often and don’t have plumber friends, you may not be aware that there’s a ‘no dig’ option for repairing and replacing underground and hidden plumbing pipes on your property. These ‘no dig’ options are called ‘trenchless’, and it’s minimally invasive. This is because smaller holes are dug in order to reach the plumbing pipes.
For example, if you have a traditional pipe replacement through a slab, your plumber is going to tear out a large section of flooring and then jackhammer through your concrete slab in order to reach the pipe. Then, that same plumber is going to remove the old, damaged section of pipe and replace it with a new pipe. If you’re lucky, the plumber will put the dirt back in the hole, but you’ll have to find someone to repair your slab and flooring.
By contrast, the ‘no dig’ or trenchless option involves using an existing cleanout line or creating an access point with a door. Then, the trenchless equipment is connected to the cleanout line. Once the pipe has been lined, the cleanout is capped and the access door is closed. The technicians then sweep the floor and remove any debris. There’s no need to call any secondary contractors to make repairs.
Why Contractors Use Underground Copper Water Lines
It’s no secret that copper plumbing pipes are the go-to option when it comes to installing underground water lines. This is because copper pipes generally last 50 years or more. It is resistant to corrosion. It has anti-bacterial properties, and it is an economically and environmentally sound choice for potable water supply lines. This means that there’s a good chance that your building has underground copper water pipes, and if your building was built in the 1960s, those copper water lines may be nearing the end of their useful lives.
Reasons You Need to Have Your Copper Water Pipes Checked, Especially if They’re in a Concrete Slab
Just because your pipes are surrounded by concrete and masonry doesn’t mean they’re impervious to problems. If your slab shifts or starts to degrade, it can rub against those pipes, causing holes and dents and dings that can lead to more cracks and holes.
Copper Pipe Corrosion in Concrete Slabs
Unfortunately, just because copper is resistant to corrosion, it doesn’t mean copper cannot corrode, especially if it’s installed underground or inside concrete slabs. In fact, the number one cause of copper pipe corrosion is the water itself. If the water flowing into the building through the copper pipes is acidic or contains a lot of dissolved solids, the acidic nature of the water can corrode the copper pipes, creating pits, cracks, and holes. If the copper pipes were joined using lead solder, the solder could break down, creating leaks around seams, joints, and fittings. If the copper pipes are installed directly into the soil, the soil itself can cause corrosion, especially if the soil contains a lot of sulfide or chloride.
Hazards of Corroded Copper Pipes in Concrete Slab
While copper is a safe material to use for potable water pipes, once the pipes start to corrode, it can affect the quality of the water. Signs of corroded copper include stained laundry, metallic taste, and greenish-blue stains around water fixtures. Other major hazards include:
- Foundation Damage – Leaking water from copper pipes (or any pipe) located within your slab can wear away the slab. If you notice any water spots on your floors or damp carpet that isn’t located near a bathroom or kitchen, there’s a good chance that water is leaking in your slab and wicking its way up to the surface.
- Lead Contamination – The use of lead solder for potable water pipes was partially banned in 1986, according to the EPA. At that time, lead solder could not have more than .2 percent lead content, and pipes could not contain more than 8 percent lead. Since 1986, the allowable limit of lead in potable water pipes has been further reduced from 8 percent to .25 percent of the weighted average of the pipe.
- Water leaks – Water leaks can damage the structural components of your building and the finishes. This includes the foundation itself, as mentioned above, the drywall, support beams, and even the soil under your foundation.
Nu Flow No Dig Method to Repair Your Copper Pipes
Here at Nu Flow, we have the technology to repair your copper pipes without destroying your concrete or masonry. This is because we use epoxy coatings and pipe liners to seal and restore your copper pipes while they are still inside your concrete slab. For potable water pipes, we generally use epoxy coatings. This is a thick, viscous liquid that is blown through your copper water pipes. Since the material is blown through your pipes, only a small hole needs to be cut to reach the pipe, and in many instances, no holes need to be cut because we can perform the process at the nearest access point, like a clean-out point.
As the epoxy moves through your potable water pipes, it coats the entire internal diameter, sealing small cracks and pinhole leaks. Once it is cured, the epoxy forms a barrier between the water and the pipe, which prevents future corrosion and extends the useful lives of your copper plumbing pipes.
To learn more about how our trenchless technology can help repair your copper pipes while extending their useful lives, contact us at 815-790-9000. We proudly serve all of Chicago and the surrounding areas.