Are your plumbing pipes aging, leaking, and cracking? While most plumbing pipes have an expected useful life of between 20 and 100 years, they can start showing signs of wear and tear sooner than that, especially around seams and joints. When this happens, you might think that you have to replace the run of pipe that is leaking. However, that’s not your only solution. You can opt for epoxy pipelining to fill leaks and cracks and prevent future corrosion and degradation of your pipes.

Understanding Epoxy Pipelining

Epoxy pipelining is a great way to rehabilitate your existing pipes. When you line your pipes with epoxy, your existing plumbing pipes are left in place. They are the host pipes for the epoxy coatings and liners, and once the epoxy is in place and cured, the water flows down the new epoxy pipeliner. Let’s explore how the process works.

The first step in the epoxy pipelining process involves cleaning your existing pipes. This can be accomplished in one of two ways. The first way is with pressurized air and a gritty substance that scrapes all the debris from the insides of your pipes. the second way your pipes can be cleaned is with a special pipe-cleaning tool. This first step ensures that the pipes are clean and smooth down to the pipe wall.

Once the pipe wall is clean, the epoxy pipeliner is installed. If you’re lining your potable water pipes, the liner is an epoxy coating that is blown through the pipes to seal all pinhole leaks and cracks. It also seals joints and seams.

If you’re lining drain pipes or sewer lines, a felt or fiberglass liner is saturated in epoxy. This liner is then threaded through the pipe and pressed against the sides of the host pipe with an air bladder. The bladder and liner are then left in place to cure. The liner takes the place of the host pipe and can fill much larger cracks, holes, and gaps. Once the liner is cured, the airbladder is removed and service is restored to the pipe.

Effectiveness Against Leaks and Cracks

Epoxy pipelining is very effective at sealing leaks and cracks. When potable water pipes with pinhole leaks and small cracks are lined, the thick epoxy first fills the cracks. Then, it smooths over the rest of the surface to create a continuous liner. NuFlow Midwest even has a new system called brush-cast epoxy that aids in this process. The brush-cast epoxy is applied via a brush in layers. The first layer seals the cracks. The next several layers create the desired thickness, and the last layer is safe for potable water.

When it comes to drain and sewer pipes, the materials used are even more robust. Instead of simply using the epoxy coating, the coating is combined with a liner. This is sometimes referred to as a pipe-within-a-pipe or pulled-in-place-piping (PIPP). With this method, large cracks, holes, and even small pipe collapses can be filled with the liner and epoxy. This effectively seals all cracks and holes to create a seamless surface.

Long-Term Solution

Epoxy pipelining is a long-term solution. On average, you can expect your lined pipes to last at least 35 years. Some epoxy-lined pipes may even last as long as 50 years, and in accelerated testing, the material may even last as long as 80 years. This means that you could add decades to the useful lives of your existing plumbing pipes. It gets even better when you consider the average lifespan of new plumbing pipes. When you factor this in, it’s easy to realize that you could be almost doubling the life of your pipes.

  • Brass Potable Water Pipes – Expected lifespan of 40 to 70 years
  • Copper Potable Water Pipes – Expected lifespan of 50 to 100 years
  • Galvanized Steel Potable Water Pipes – Expected lifespan of 20 to 50 years
  • PEX Potable Water Pipes – Expected lifespan of 50+ years
  • Cast Iron Drain Pipes – Expected lifespan of 75 to 100 years
  • PVC Drain Pipes – Expected lifespan of more than 100 years

Cost and Time Efficiency

When compared to the cost and time involved in traditional pipe replacements, you might be surprised to find out that epoxy pipelining is less expensive and faster. Epoxy pipelining is less expensive because it’s not destructive. This means that you don’t have to hire other contractors to fill in holes, which can greatly add to the cost of the project. Additionally, epoxy pipelining only takes two to three days per run of pipe. Once the work is completed on that pipe, it is immediately returned to service. This means that you can line one or more runs of pipe without having to deal with large-scale water outages due to the work being performed.

Preserving Pipe Integrity

If you’re looking to preserve or improve the integrity of your existing plumbing pipes, you can’t go wrong with epoxy pipelining. Plumbing pipes, especially metal plumbing pipes, tend to develop corrosion over time. This can decrease the internal diameter of the pipe, restricting water flow. Additionally, interactions between the pipe and the water flowing through the pipe can lead to pinhole leaks and a thinning of the pipe wall. This can negatively impact the structural integrity of your plumbing pipes. If you want to avoid these problems and improve and preserve the integrity of your plumbing pipes, epoxy pipelining may be the right answer for you.

Once your pipes are lined with epoxy, there is no further corrosion or degradation of your existing plumbing pipes. This is because the water flowing down the pipe no longer comes into contact with the host pipe. Your pipes are also clean and debris-free, which means water flow is maximized.

Suitability for Different Pipe Types

Epoxy pipelining can be used on a variety of plumbing pipes. At NuFlow Midwest, we can line vent stacks, drain lines, sewer pipes, waste stacks, and potable water lines. We can also line all types of pipe materials, including steel, cast iron, brass, copper, and PVC.

  • Vent Stacks – Your building’s vent stacks are the pipes that run vertically from your water fixtures and appliances. These pipes help balance the system with air. They do not contain water. However, they can still corrode due to moisture infiltration.
  • Drain Lines – The drain lines in your building funnel used water away from your sinks, dishwashers, washers, showers, and bathtubs. These pipes do receive water and waste materials.
  • Sewer Lines – Your sewer line funnels all the waste from your building to the city’s wastewater treatment systems.
  • Waste Stacks – These are pipes that are directly connected to toilet drains. They typically contain human waste, which means the water that runs through these pipes is blackwater.
  • Storm Drains – The drains on your building and property that funnel stormwater away from your property.
  • Potable Water Lines – Your potable water lines connect to your sinks, shower, and other water-using appliances to provide your building with clean water.

Epoxy pipelining is extremely versatile. It can be used to line some or all of the pipes in your building to increase their functionality and useful lives.

NuFlow Midwest’s Approach

When your Chicago building’s plumbing system is showing signs of wear and tear, you can extend its useful life with epoxy pipelining. Lining your pipes with epoxy is an affordable and convenient way to rehabilitate your plumbing system without all the hassle and mess of replacing your pipes. At NuFlow, we are dedicated to providing you with the expertise and knowledge you want when it comes to restoring your plumbing pipes. This means that our technicians regularly participate in extra training, and we’re always studying and learning new epoxy pipelining techniques and methods. We’re also experts in designing custom solutions to pipe problems. This is evident in the way that we lined the P-traps at the US Cellular Field, now named Guaranteed Rate Field. We also lined the sewer drains and storm drains at 70 East Cedar Street, and for that project, we came up with a timetable for the pipelining process. You can see it here. We always create a timetable for each large project because it lets the residents and building owners know the status of the project.

If you’re thinking of rehabilitating the plumbing pipes in your greater Chicago building, feel free to contact us, We’d love to tell you more about the benefits and process of epoxy pipelining.