Are you wondering about the durability and reliability of epoxy pipe lining? Here at Nu Flow, we’ve heard all the horror stories you’ve heard, including that pipe liners can slip out of place, wrinkle, bunch-up and block connecting pipes and water shutoff valves. The truth is that epoxy pipe liners are extremely durable, long-lasting and nearly impossible to remove once they’re properly installed and cured into place. They also don’t tend to slip once they are properly installed and cured. In fact, if your epoxy pipe liner slips out of place, it was probably due to an installation error by someone who was improperly trained or a company that cut corners in order to save money and increase their profit margins at your expense.

Why Do Pipe Liners Fail?

Pipeliners fail due to improper installation practices. The improper installation can be due to insufficient training of the installer, not fully saturating the liner or preparing it for installation and using inferior quality products. In some instances, the installer may also skip steps in the pipe lining process in order to lower cost and the time involved in the installation.

Example 1: Failure to Clean the Host Pipe

The first step to properly installing an epoxy pipe liner involves thoroughly cleaning the existing plumbing pipe. This involves blowing sand or a grit-like substance into the pipes, using air compressors. It can also involve using special pipe cleaners that contain rotating heads with chains and blades to remove scale, grit and filth from the inside of the pipe all the way down to the pipe wall. In fact, cleaning the existing pipes down to the original pipe wall is essential in order to ensure the pipe’s diameter is maximized and that the epoxy cures and adheres against the pipe wall so that a completely smooth and hard surface is formed

The truth is that it may take several rounds of cleaning before the epoxy liner can be installed, and after each round of cleaning, a camera inspection must be performed to ensure the pipe wall is visible throughout the pipe section that is to be lined. Once the cleanliness of the pipe wall has been visually verified, the epoxy pipe liner can be prepared and installed. If the pipe is not completely clean, the pipe liner won’t adhere correctly, and it may even impact the flow rate inside the pipe and lead to future clogs.

Example 2: Failure to Properly Prepare the Pipe Liner

Once the host pipe or existing pipe is completely clean, the two-part epoxy must be mixed, and the pipe liner must be properly prepared. This step involves ensuring that the liner is the correct diameter and that it is cut to the exact length of the pipe to be lined.

After verifying that the correct diameter and length of pipe liner is being used, it must be scored. This involves cutting cross-hatches across the liner at very preciser intervals and at specific points. If the scoring step is skipped, it can result in the two-part epoxy not fully saturating the liner. If the epoxy doesn’t completely soak through the liner, it can’t properly adhere or cure inside the pipe. This could lead to the liner wrinkling, bunching or even slipping out of place while it cures.

Unfortunately, even if your beginning pipe lining installer scores the pipe liner correctly, he or she may forget to roll it after pouring the epoxy down the tube. This means that the pipe lining installer can’t simply pour the epoxy into the felt or fiberglass liner and send it on its way down the pipe. The epoxy saturated liner must be rolled using a hand-held roller that looks like the smaller version of the asphalt rollers used to compact newly poured roadways.

The epoxy pipe lining roller is rolled from one end of the liner to the other, and this may be done several times in order to ensure the pipe liner has been fully saturated, which occurs when the liner turns from white to blue or the color of the epoxy being used. Failure to fully saturate the liner can result in the liner not fully adhering to the pipe wall as it cures.

Example 3: Improper Bladder Inflation

Once the liner has been fully saturated and verified as fully saturated, a bladder is inserted into the liner just prior to sliding it into the plumbing pipe. Once the liner is in place and verified as in place, the bladder is filled with air. The expansion of the bladder pushes the walls of the liner against the walls of the host pipe. Once fully cured, the liner takes over the job of the host pipe. This is why epoxy pipe liners are often referred to as a pipe within a pipe.

When it comes to installation issues, the bladder not inflating is one of the most common. This is why we always test our bladders prior to using them. If a bladder is found to have a leak, we use a different bladder that is in good repair and free of leaks. Like every other step of the installation process, the proper inflation of the bladder is essential. The bladder is what firmly presses the epoxy soaked liner against the pipe wall, and the bladder must stay in place during the curing process. If the bladder has a leak, it could slowly deflate, resulting in the liner sagging and curing with dips and ridges. While this doesn’t result in a slipping of the liner, it can contribute to slow water flow and clogs in the pipe.

What Happens if Part of a Pipe Liner Fails and Needs to Be Replaced

Let’s assume that for some unforeseen reason, part or all of a new or existing pipe liner must be removed. Assuming that the pipe cannot simply be cut out and replaced, removing the pipe liner involves grinding it out of the pipe. This is because epoxy pipe liners adhere tightly to the host pipe’s interior wall in order to form an almost combined pipe. Because the pipe liner is stuck completely to the pipe wall, the only way to remove it is with special grinders, and this process can take many hours.

Why Epoxy Pipe Liners from Nu Flow Are as Reliable as New Plumbing Pipes

When you order pipe liners from our pipe lining technicians here at Nu Flow, serving Chicago, you can expect top-notch, reliable work that is double-checked by our on-staff master plumber. This is because we have the proper tools, equipment and experience needed to install your pipe liners correctly so that they last for decades. In fact, we offer a 10-year warranty on all our pipe lining work. This means that if you experience a problem with our pipe liner, you can expect us to come out and diagnose and repair the problem for free.

How We Install Pipe Liners in Chicago

Every one of our pipe lining installations starts with a pipe inspection of the pipes that you need to have lined. This is because we must determine the condition of your pipes, the length of the pipe to be lined and its diameter. We also have to make a note of all the connecting pipes and shutoff valves. This is because areas of pipe that contain shutoff valves and connecting pipes that form a T or Y cannot be lined. To ensure we don’t accidentally line shutoff valves, existing valves are removed prior to the pipe lining process and replaced after the pipe is lined. When a pipe has a T or Y intersection, that area of the pipe cannot be lined. This means that we cut out pipe liners in order to avoid accidentally closing off a section of pipe.

Pipe Liner Installation Process

Once we’ve inspected your plumbing pipes, made all the necessary calculations and thoroughly cleaned the building’s pipes down to the pipe walls, we install the pipe liner.

1. Ensure pipe liner is the correct diameter and length

2. Mix the two-part epoxy

3. Pour two-part epoxy into the pipe liner

4. Roll the pipe liner and verify entirety of liner turns blue to indicate complete saturation

5. Test air bladder for proper inflation and verify there are no leaks

6. Insert bladder into pipe liner

7. Pull the new pipe liner into place within the existing host pipe

8. Inflate the bladder

9. Leave bladder inflated for the entirety of the curing process

10. Return, deflate bladder and remove it from the cured pipe within a pipe

11. Verify that pipe liner is in place and fully cured via a camera inspection

12. Restore water service

By following proper epoxy pipe liner installation procedures, we can ensure a durable and reliable pipe liner that will last nearly as long as installing new plumbing pipes. In fact, our pipe liners are rated to last between 30 and 50 years.

To learn more about how we can rehabilitate your existing plumbing pipes with less mess, less cost and less time to install, give us a call at 815-790-9000.