Plumbing issues at hospitals are not uncommon, since the piping infrastructure is usually as old as the building itself. So, to be up to the task, regular maintenance is often needed.
What is uncommon, however, is the work Nuflow Bendigo was required to do at the local private hospital. When a mystery leak appeared on the pavement outside, they were called in to put their underground pipe leak detection skills to the test. However, the team soon realised that this was only a small part of a much bigger mystery, and they were the only ones who could solve it.
Footpath leak reveals stormwater issues
The hospital in question is about 50 years old. Nuflow Bendigo is regularly onsite to do hospital plumbing maintenance and help make sure their assets are as close as possible to current plumbing standards. While on a regularly scheduled maintenance check-up, the team was approached by the hospital about a mysterious, reoccurring puddle of water coming from the ground. The team understand exactly how to find a leaking pipe underground, so they agreed to take a look. It didn’t take long for them to identify that the problem was related to the stormwater system beneath the pavement.
CCTV camera inspections uncovered that the system was suffering from tree root intrusion, which was causing water to leak through the cracks to the footpath. Nuflow Bendigo was able to quickly clear away the pesky roots with pressure jet cleaning, and reline the underground pipe leak.
It seemed like things were resolved, but there was just one problem – there had been no rain to flow into the drain, so where had the water come from? The team are not about quick fixes, so knew they needed to investigate further.
Nuflow Bendigo is on the case
Lead by head reliner and business owner Phil, Nuflow Bendigo began their investigation of various pipelines throughout the hospital to discover the culprit. This proved to be more difficult than usual since there were no plans for the pipe layouts, meaning they were going in blind. Things got even more challenging due to the fact that the building facades were constructed around the piping, making visibility very difficult.
Still, this didn’t stop them from finding answers. After spending days figuring out where the different pipelines were and how to access them, they were able to use CCTV technology to inspect the interiors. This is how they discovered some corroded copper pipes beneath the maternity ward.
These are actually pipe stacks, meaning they go up through multiple floors – three floors and into a cellar to be exact. Their purpose was to feed used reverse osmosis water from operating theatres into the sewer system.
Reverse osmosis is a process for filtering town water, removing all contaminants and impurities to leave behind clean, pure water. The hospital’s damaged copper stack was feeding it away from the scrubs area where it was used to disinfect and sterilise equipment, but because this type of water is corrosive to copper it had started to eat away the pipe.
The team realised that, at some point, the hospital maintenance staff must have noticed the leak in this line and redirected the reverse osmosis water away from the sewer and into the stormwater system. This solved the case of where the mystery water had come from, but now they needed a long-term fix for this short-term solution.
A search for the right solution
Pipe stacks always pose a challenge. There are all sorts of junctions leading into the stack that you can’t reline over without drilling out the junction’s entry point. Plus, Phil wanted to reline 1m down the junction lines to offer maximum protection. Without proper access, this is an extremely time-consuming process – and that was time the team didn’t have.
In order to do the repairs, the pipelines would need to be completely dry so the resin was able to cure. That meant that the operating rooms could not be in use while this was happening since they wouldn’t be able to sterilise anything. Luckily, they would be shutting down over Christmas for a few days, so Nuflow Bendigo had a small window of opportunity to get the job done.
Given the circumstances surrounding the job, Phil knew he needed to get creative with his solution. Traditional relining requires two access points, and they would only have one for each pipe. So, he began researching alternative options.
In the past on another project, he had used a brush coating system. This involved applying multiple layers of resin in a brushing process and curing it with pressurised air. It offers easy manoeuvring, allowing the technician to go around bends and also different-sized pipes. This made it perfect for the hospital project.
Phil conducted further research into this solution to ensure he was across all the right technicalities, which included getting in touch with technicians in Europe. Once he was confident, it was time to get started.
Brush coating serves as the right solution
Over the course of two days, the team was on site applying the brush coating system. The brush was attached to a milling cable, causing it to spin around inside the pipe. As it’s pulled through, it brushes the pipe with the resin, coating it from top to bottom.
As the resin dried, it actually changed the piping integrity of the copper stack. It is now acid resistant and able to handle temperatures of over 100 degrees. This means that it will be protected from further corrosion caused by the reverse osmosis water moving forward.
Phil was very pleased with the result of the brush coating system, and what it means for pipe relining moving forward. “This is a solution that Nuflow is investing in and wants to advance in Australia.”
Another case solved
Nuflow Bendigo did in two days what would have taken over two months with a pipe replacement. Without relining, the operating rooms would face destruction and the hospital would need to shut things down for a long period of time. The hospital maintenance team was very happy that this didn’t need to happen, and that things could keep running smoothly.
Call Nuflow for help
If you are dealing with challenging pipe problems, like issues in the plumbing of your multistorey building, Nuflow has the capabilities to help. Time and time again, we go above and beyond for our clients to find solutions that suit their timelines, operations, and accessibility requirements. As our research and development teams advance the brush coating systems, we’ll be able to add this to our repertoire of high-quality, innovative solutions and offer even more extensive resolutions to your pipe problems. Talk to us today to learn more.