Are you considering having your Chicago building’s plumbing pipes lined with epoxy? Lining your pipes with epoxy can extend the useful lives of your existing plumbing pipes. It’s also minimally invasive and doesn’t cause as much of a hindrance to your residents as a traditional pipe replacement. Epoxy-lined pipes are also low maintenance and reliable, but let’s take a look at some of the most common maintenance concerns our clients have when considering the installation of epoxy pipeliners in their buildings.

What are epoxy-lined pipes?

Epoxy-lined pipes are standard plumbing pipes that have received a coating of epoxy. Epoxy is a type of plastic material that’s typically used as a sealant or adhesive. You may have heard of epoxy-sealed floors or epoxy resin countertops. When epoxy is used for plumbing pipes, it can form a pipe within a pipe. This is because the epoxy used to plumbing pipes is a two-part system that consists of an epoxy resin and a hardener. These two components are mixed and then inserted into your pipes. Once the epoxy resin has hardened, it forms a pipe that is just as durable as a new plumbing pipe.

Epoxy can be used on both potable water pipes and drain and sewer pipes. When epoxy is used on potable water pipes, it’s a coating that is blown through the pipes to seal small pinhole leaks and cracks. When epoxy is used on drain and sewer pipes, a felt liner is also used. The liner is soaked in the epoxy and then inserted into the pipe. An airbladder is used to press the liner against the existing pipe. Then, it’s left to cure and harden. This type of epoxy pipelining system can fix holes, leaks, and even breaks in the pipe.

What are the maintenance requirements for epoxy-lined pipes?

Epoxy-lined pipes are considered low maintenance. This is because they don’t corrode once they’re installed. However, you should still perform light maintenance on your drain lines and sewer lines. This involves periodic drain cleanings via hydro jetting. Hydro jetting is a type of pipe-cleaning service that uses pressurized water to remove clogs and debris. It doesn’t damage pipes or negatively impact the environment. At NuFlow Midwest, we recommend hydro jetting your drain and sewer lines about once a year. If you have heavy drain use in your building, you may want to schedule a pipe cleaning more often.

Additionally, you should remind your residents of the acceptable items and unacceptable items to put down drains. Acceptable items would include liquids, like milk, water, and fruit juices, as well as small food particles that can’t be scraped from plates and put in the trash. When it comes to toilets, the only items that should be put down the drain include human waste and toilet paper. Wet wipes, meat scraps, paper towels, facial tissues, feminine hygiene products, diapers, oils, and grease should never be put down the drain. These items can get stuck along the sides of the pipes, and once one item is stuck, other items attach themselves to it. This can result in partial and full clogs.

Are inspections needed for epoxy-lined pipes?

In addition to regular hydro jetting, you should also schedule maintenance inspections of your epoxy-lined pipes. Maintenance inspections consist of a camera inspection. Plumbing cameras are located on the ends of flexible cables, and they contain a light. The camera is then threaded through the drain line via an existing cleanout. The images from the camera are then viewable on a screen, and the session is recorded. These inspections check for problems with the epoxy liner and signs of clogs.

How should I handle small problems, like clogs, in the epoxy-lined pipes?

Clogs should be cleared via hydro jetting. Harsh chemicals and drain augers should not be used on epoxy-lined pipes because they could damage the epoxy liner. It’s also important not to use high heat around plumbing pipes that have been lined with epoxy. High heat could cause the epoxy to become separated from the host pipe. When you get your pipes epoxy lined, information about the newly lined pipes and how to clean them will be provided. Additionally, warning stickers are put on the pipes at the access panels to alert other plumbers that the pipes have been lined with epoxy.

Who should I call for major concerns with my epoxy-lined pipes?

If you have major concerns with your epoxy-lined plumbing pipes, you should call NuFlow Midwest at 815790-9000. We offer 10-year warranties on all of our work, and if the epoxy becomes damaged due to an improper installation, we will stand by our work and warranty and fix the problem. We take epoxy pipelining very seriously, and we always do our best to make sure the epoxy is mixed correctly, installed correctly, and given the appropriate amount of time to cure. However, we also recognize that major problems can occur, and if they do occur, we will repair the problem. After all, it’s your satisfaction that matters to us, and it doesn’t end the day we finish your project. If you have questions or concerns after your epoxy pipelining, all you have to do is call us. We’re happy to speak with you about your concerns and send a pipelining technician to examine your lined pipes.

How common are major problems with epoxy-lined plumbing pipes?

Major problems with epoxy-lined plumbing pipes are rare, and those problems typically occur when the installation isn’t performed correctly. One of the first steps in the epoxy pipelining process is cleaning the existing pipe down to the pipe wall. This step is needed to remove all of the corrosion and debris inside your existing pipe. That debris, once loosened, is washed away via pressurized water. At that stage, a camera inspection should be performed to ensure that the pipe is completely clean. If the pipe isn’t completely clean, the epoxy pipe liner or coating may fail to adhere properly. When this happens, the liner can interfere with the function of the pipe. With that being said, when a pipeliner is correctly installed and left to cure and harden for the appropriate amount of time, the liner is extremely durable. If a section of liner later needs to be removed, it often has to be ground out of the pipe, which is a very time-consuming process.

Are there any special considerations for maintenance when epoxy pipeliners are installed in historic buildings?

Chicago is one of the oldest cities in the US, and as a result, it contains hundreds of historic structures, if you happen to own one of those buildings, you can still get your plumbing pipes lined with epoxy. Epoxy pipelining is often the preferred method of plumbing pipe rehabilitation in historic buildings because it’s not destructive. The maintenance requirements are also the same in historic buildings as they are in newer buildings, which means all you have to do is schedule regular pipe inspections and have your drain pipes and sewerlines regularly hydro jetted.

How long can I expect my epoxy-lined pipes to last with the appropriate amount of maintenance?

When regular maintenance is performed on epoxy-lined pipes, you can expect them to last between 35 and 50 years. In some accelerated laboratory testing epoxy has been predicted to last up to 80 years, which is comparable to the lifespans of new plumbing pipes. For example, brass plumbing pipes typically last between 40 and 70 years. Galvanized steel pipes last between 20 and 50 years. Cast iron pipes are rated to last between 75 and 100 years, and copper pipes typically last between 50 and 100 years. Not to mention, your newly lined epoxy pipes will no longer corrode or degrade because the water is not coming into contact with the metal of a plumbing pipe.

What’s NuFlow Midwest’s commitment to my epoxy-lined pipes?

Nuflow Midwest is extremely committed to providing high-quality epoxy pipeliners and coatings. We stand by our products and our methods, which is why we offer 10-year warranties on all our pipelining products and the labor to install those products. We’re also committed to staying up-to-date on all the latest epoxy pipelining technologies and installation methods. This means that our pipelining technicians participate in regular training programs and attend pipelining conferences and seminars.

If you have questions about epoxy pipelining or want to start the process of getting your building’s old plumbing pipes lined with epoxy, contact us.