Are you thinking about having your potable water pipes lined in your Chicago apartment building, condo or co-op? The pipelining process is much less invasive and faster than having your pipes traditionally replaced. However, many building owners, superintendents and property managers have questions about the pipelining process. For this reason, we have outlined the entire pipelining process and what to expect while your pipes are being lined.

1. Provide a Timeline

Since the water is shut off to the affected potable water pipe that is being lined, our professional pipelining technicians will create a timeline and a schedule prior to the shutoff date. If multiple pipes in the building are to be lined, we will create a complete schedule for all the pipes and the units that will be affected each day. This allows your residents to make alternative plans for water during the lining process, and it gives them an idea of when water service will be restored. If the shutoff time changes, we also inform you and the affected residents as soon as we have a new schedule. Our pipelining scheduled for particular buildings are available online so that you and your residents can stay up to date on the progress. The typical timeframe to line a complete riser from top to bottom is four to five weeks.

2. Work Days Are From 7AM until 4PM

A typical workday lasts from 7AM until 4PM. During that time, the air hoses will be connected and our pipelining technicians will be in the building. From 7AM until 8AM, our technicians will be preparing hoses and connecting equipment. However, they do not typically enter individual units until around 8AM. Prior to 4PM, all the hoses are disconnected from inside the unit, rolled up and put away for the evening and night. It’s also important to note that all of the equipment is stored outside in a tent rather than in the building.

3. Isolate the Pipe

In order to line a pipe, we must isolate it from the rest of the system. This means that pipe that is to be lined will be offline until the pipelining process is complete. We typically isolate pipes by installing extra shutoff valves at each end of the pipe or by using the building’s existing shutoff valves.

4. Provide Water Where it is Needed

Places like bathrooms and kitchens cannot be without water for an extended period of time. For this reason, we utilize whichever pipe, either hot or cold, to provide water to the area. If the potable water pipe that is available is the hot water line, we mix the hot and cold water to provide warm water while the cold water pipe is being lined with epoxy.

5. Perform a Camera Inspection

Each potable water pipelining process involves multiple camera inspections. We typically inspect the pipe prior to lining in order to ensure the pipe can withstand the lining process. We also inspect the pipe during the pipelining process to ensure each stage has been completed correctly, and we inspect the pipe a final time after the epoxy coating has been applied and cured. We also show the videos to the property manager or authorized employee as needed, and we can provide copies of the videos.

6. Drain and Dry the System

Once the pipe has been isolated, we shut off the water, drain and completely dry the section of the potable water system that is to be lined. Drying potable water pipes involves pumping air at a specific pressure and rate through the water pipe. We typically set the hoses up at the top of the riser so that the air blows downward through the pipe and back into the air compressors. Initially, the air is cool, but we quickly warm the air to speed the drying process. At the bottom of the pipe, we collect all the debris that blows out of the plumbing pipe. This drying process can last several days. However, at the end of each day, all the air hoses are removed from the pipes so as not to create a hazard or extreme inconvenience overnight. This also ensures that all firedoors can be closed.

It’s also important to note that all the branch lines in every apartment or condo that is connected to the riser will have hoses connected to the pipe. This is because moisture can hide in the branch lines. In order to ensure the pipe is properly prepared, all the moisture must be removed from that section of the plumbing system. However, the hoses will be laid in such a way as to not create an extreme inconvenience. During the day, residents may notice hoses at the back of the building, running down hallways and up staircases. If a hose is in the way, our technicians will do their best to move it as soon as they are informed.

7. The Pipe Is Cleaned

Potable water pipes can develop corrosion over time. In order to effectively line the pipe, all of the corrosion and debris must be removed. This helps maximize the diameter of the pipe and ensures a smooth surface so that the epoxy coating adheres properly to the host pipe.

Once the pipe is dry, we introduce a fine abrasive, usually sand. The sand is propelled by the air, and as it flows through the pipe, it removes all the corrosion and debris, leaving a smooth, clean internal surface. Once the cleaning is complete, we perform another camera inspection to ensure all the debris is out of the pipe. If the camera inspection reveals holes of excessively weak pipes, we replace the damaged pipe sections immediately and resume the lining process.

8. The Pipe Is Lined

Once the pipe is dry and clean, we mix the epoxy and introduce it into the system. The lining process is extremely precise. The air flow coming from the compressors is set at a specific rate of flow so that the epoxy coating rolls over itself and coats every square inch of the pipe. Once the pipe ling process is complete and the liner has dried, a final camera inspection is completed in order to ensure that the epoxy coated the pipe evenly.

9. Water Service Is Restored

Once the potable water pipe coating has cured for 24 hours, water service is restored to the riser, and our team of pipelining technicians moves on to the next section of pipe that needs to be lined.

To learn more about the pipelining process and to schedule an appointment to see if pipelining would be right for your building, call us at 815-790-9000.