Are you thinking about rehabilitating your plumbing pipes with an epoxy pipe coating but aren’t sure how it works? Internal pipe coatings are touted as being able to fill and seal small cracks and pinhole leaks, but if you aren’t familiar with the technology, this may sound too good to be true. Here at NuFlow, serving Chicago, we want you to be able to make an informed decision when it comes to choosing an internal pipe coating instead of a pipe replacement for your large residential or commercial building.

What Is an Internal Pipe Coating?

An internal pipe coating consists of a two-part epoxy mixture that consists of a resin and a curing agent. When these two parts are mixed together, they form a semi-thick liquid that has the ability to completely coat the inside diameters of plumbing pipes, including straight runs and around bends and elbows. This makes epoxy resin an extremely effective and versatile internal pipe coating.

What Are the Types of Epoxy?

In addition to being used as an internal pipe coating, epoxy is also used as a waterproofer and sealer in all types of land and water-based applications, including as concrete coatings, countertop coatings, metal coatings, boat and car coatings and even as a type of roof coating. Of course, epoxies with different compositions are used for different applications.

  • Fusion Bonded Epoxy – Needs heat in order to cure. It is typically used to coat metal surfaces.
  • Solvent Less Epoxy – Solvent less epoxy is used for plumbing pipe rehabilitation.
  • Solvent Containing Epoxy – used in weld joints and for certain types of repairs that aren’t related to plumbing pipes.

How Does an Internal Pipe Coating Repair and Protect My Plumbing Pipes?

Since epoxy is a thick, viscous liquid, it coats, seals and repairs as it moves through your plumbing pipes. After the epoxy is mixed, it is blown through your potable water pipes with filtered and pressurized air. As the epoxy is blown through your plumbing pipes, it fills small cracks as well as pinhole leaks. It’s also thick enough that it doesn’t splatter inside your pipes. Instead, it tends to roll over itself, which forms a uniform layer along the inside diameter of your pipes.

Once the epoxy has been blown into place, it is left to cure for a certain amount of time, usually anywhere from a few hours to one day. Once the epoxy resin has cured, it becomes a hard durable surface.

How are Epoxy Pipe Coatings Installed?

Epoxy pipe coatings are installed using a very specific process in order to ensure that the pipes are completely clean and that the coating has adhered properly to the pipe wall.

  1. The plumbing pipes to be lined are isolated from the rest of the system. Access Panels are installed where needed.
  2. The water is drained from the plumbing pipes.
  3. The plumbing pipes are dried using heat, which loosens the corrosion and debris, making it easier to remove.
  4. The pipes are completely cleaned down to the pipe wall, using a type of grit that is blown through the pipes and collected into waste containers.
  5. The epoxy coating is blown through the plumbing pipes using pressurized air.
  6. The coating is left to cure and dry.
  7. A camera inspection is performed to make sure the coating has cured and covered the entire 360-degree diameter of the pipe.
  8. The plumbing pipes are returned to service.

Do Epoxy Pipe Coatings Reduce the Internal Diameter of the Plumbing Pipe?

Since epoxy coatings are installed on the inside of the plumbing pipe, they do reduce the internal diameter by the thickness of the epoxy coating, which is usually only a few millimeters thick. However, all plumbing pipes are completely cleaned down to the pipe walls before the epoxy is blown through the pipes. For severely corroded plumbing pipes, this means that actually gain diameter when compared to how they looked prior to the installation of the epoxy.

How Do Epoxy Coatings Prevent Future Corrosion and Pipe Deterioration?

Epoxy coatings prevent future corrosion and degradation of the plumbing pipe by preventing the water from coming into contact with the metal of the pipe. Metal plumbing pipes corrode due to the reaction between the water and dissolved minerals and chemicals in the water and the metal surface. An epoxy coating prevents this interaction by making it impossible for the water to touch the host pipe.

You can think of this like a waterproof bag for your cell phone. You know that if water comes into contact with your cellphone, the phone will be damaged and unusable. By putting your phone in a special waterproof cellphone case, you are adding a barrier around your phone that prevents water from coming into contact with it.

How Long Will My Internal Pipe Coating Last?

Epoxy coatings are designed to last between 35 and 50 years and in some instances, the coatings have been known to last 80 or more years. This is comparable to the lifespan of a new plumbing pipe.

Do Internal Pipe Coatings Come with Warranties?

Internal pipe coatings do come with warranties. Here at NuFlow, we offer full warranties of 10 years, which means if anything ever goes wrong with your coated plumbing pipes, we’ll repair or replace the pipe for free. We’ve even been known to create custom warranty plans for our clients.

How Do I Know that an Internal Pipe Coating Is Right for My Chicago Building?

Most plumbing pipes are good candidates for the pipe coating process. The only exceptions are pipes with extremely thin walls or pipes that have experienced blowouts. When this happens, we have professional plumbers on hand that can immediately replace any plumbing pipes that are too worn to withstand the pipelining process.

Will Coating My Plumbing Pipes with Epoxy Really Save Me Money?

Having epoxy coatings installed in your plumbing pipes will save you money over the costs associated with entirely replacing your system. It also takes less time to install epoxy than it does to completely replace large runs of pipes. The cost savings comes in the form of reduced man-hours and less need for heavy machinery. You also won’t need to hire additional contractors to repair your walls or your grounds after the work is completed. This is because epoxy coatings are a type of trenchless pipe rehabilitation, which means there is very little digging or cutting, and everywhere our pipelining technicians have to cut through a wall to reach the pipes, they install an access panel. These panels allow superintendents, property managers and future plumbers to easily access the plumbing pipes and eliminate the need to make drywall repairs.

How Do I Learn More About Epoxy Pipe Coatings for Potable Water Pipes?

If you have questions or want to schedule a building pipe assessment or estimate to coat your potable water pipes with epoxy, please give us a call at 815-790-9000. We always answer our phone with a person, not a computer.