Anyone gathering information about possible alternatives for plumbing or drainage issues should ALWAYS consider pipe relining solutions and the benefits they offer over traditional methods of plumbing repair. Failure to do so will mean gaps in knowledge and (in most cases) higher costs and greater disruption to lifestyle and operations.
This article looks at ways of determining whether there are broken pipes on your property, discusses some of the most common alternatives for repairing pipes and lists the different types of pipe lining technology available.
Finally, it identifies circumstances under which one should seriously consider pipe or drain relining and provides important tips for engaging an installer.
broken or damaged pipes
Pipes are one of the oldest and most useful of humankind’s inventions. They help move things from where they are, to where we need them to be. Once they’re in place (usually buried below ground or hidden behind walls and ceilings) we rejoice (‘Yay…. our new home’s taps and toilets are finally on’…. or ‘Halleluiah, the town’s new pipeline is operational’).
But soon after the initial thrill wears off we conveniently forget about those vitally important pipes doing all the work down below. In fact, only when there’s trouble do we usually give them a second thought. Sadly, the price of our blissful disregard is often significant but over recent decades new pipe lining technologies which reduce the need for destruction of property, excavation and rebuilding have emerged. These technologies are reducing impacts, down-time for repairs and overall costs.
There are a number of reasons pipes stop functioning correctly or break.
Causes of pipe breakdowns:
- Blockages (fats, grease, hair, nappies, baby wipes and other common causes)
- Tree root invasion
- Natural earth movement
- Repairs/changes in connection pipe systems
- Accidental damage (during construction or from nearby renovations)
- Extremes of temperature (usually in cold regions where pipes freeze)
- Mineral build up (eg. calcium and magnesium)
- Sudden large changes in water pressure
When breakdowns occur taking action sooner rather than later is important.
What are the consequences of a broken pipe?
If left unresolved, a broken pipe can quickly cause the growth of mould, unpleasant odours and the pooling of water around the home which can attract pests such as mosquitos, flies, rodents and even termites (white ants). Over the longer term, unrepaired damage can lead to even more serious consequences such as:
- Water stains on ceilings and walls
- Water leaks (and cost of excess water and repairs)
- Sewage backups and discharge on your property
- Flooding (and associated damage)
- Broken or burst waste pipes in other sections of the system
- Shifting of a home’s foundations.
This means being aware of some of the tell-tale signs of a blocked or broken drain can be integral to the ongoing stability of your home.
Signs of blocked drains, broken pipes and serious water leaks
Some of the most common signs of damaged pipes are:
- Unpleasant smell
- Gurgling sounds in the drain
- Slow-draining sink
- Overflows, drips puddles and wet floors or kitchen cupboards
- Toilets filling and not draining easily
- Wet patches of lawn or unusually healthy (green) areas of lawn or garden
- Cracks in walls leading up from the floor
- Cracks in tiles or concrete flooring
- Raised (dome-shaped) areas of flooring
- Warped timber boards.
If signs are evident, immediate action should be taken. There are a number of do-it-yourself strategies for trying to remove pipe blockages which for most of us are the first port of call. If this fails, however, and professional help is needed, homeowners should gather as much information as possible to help them make optimum repair decisions.
ways of repairing pipes
When it comes to repairing pipes the first consideration is whether you want to use:
- ‘trenchless’ repairs (no excavation or digging)
- repairs that require excavation (traditional methods involving digging).
Within these two categories, there are a few repair options available.
- PIPE BURSTING
- PIPE RAMMING
- Re-piping (dig and replace into existing trench)
- Re-routing (lay new network and cut off the old one)
Deciding on the best pipe repair solution for you
No single pipe repair solution is going to be the best in every situation. If you live in a rural area, have a large, open yard and coach the local U23 rugby team, then having a ‘Trench-digging BBQ’ on Saturday afternoon instead of fitness training next week might be the perfect way to get that leaking stormwater pipe up and out of the front lawn so you can pop a new one in. For under $100 for parts and glue – plus a few sausages and a loaf of bread – your troubles could all be over.
But if the beautifully tiled lap pool and entertainment area you finished last Christmas seems to have put a bit too much weight on the sewer pipes that ran beneath it, and you suspect there are breaks down there in the dark, things become a bit more problematic.
Essentially if digging and excavation is not an issue (i.e. there are no built structures, valued flora or fauna, protected areas, access ways, other essential services above or near where the trench would need to be dug), traditional methods may still be the most cost-effective way of repairing a pipe. Remember, however, that labour costs will be high (unless you plan to do the hard yakka yourself) and the time taken to complete the job (including downtime for services) may be longer. You will also need to carefully consider all additional costs for things like concrete cutting, new tiling and landscaping, potential damage to the pool’s structure or perhaps even hotel and takeaway food bills if you need to move out while repairs are done.
This means even when circumstances are not quite as extreme as the scenario above, homeowners should seriously consider whether relining plumbing pipes would be the best repair strategy for them.
In the next section, we briefly look at how pipe relining solutions work, describe some methods of relining pipes and identify the advantages each method has in particular circumstances.
relining plumbing pipes
If you feel a trenchless option will work best in your situation, the next decision is which of the trenchless methods to use. The options are:
- Pipe bursting
- Pipe ramming
Relining is the most commonly used strategy by homeowners and there are four methods used to reline pipes. They are:
- CIPP (cured in place) relining
- Slip lining
- Fold and form lining
- Spray lining
CIPP relining is the most common and will be explained further in the next section.
With CIPP relining, advanced composite resins are used to impregnate a synthetic liner which is then inserted into the damaged pipe and cured until it is rock hard. The new pipe is even stronger than the old pipe and is resistant to future invasion by tree roots and able to withstand heavy loads. Again, you can learn more about CIPP relining here.
WHEN IS CIPP RELINING THE BEST WAY TO REPAIR PIPES?
CIPP relining is usually the preferred method of repairing pipes in the following situations.
- For repairs under slabs, pools, driveways, roads and other built structures
- For pipe repairs near sensitive habitats or beneath prized gardens
- For recently renovated homes
- When funds are low and you want a permanent solution that’s guaranteed to last
- When there are other essential services nearby
- When soil conditions are poor and there is risk of trench collapse
finding a reputable installer
The most important element of successful pipe relining is ensuring you engage a highly reputable, fully trained and experienced installer. Whilst choosing a small, local company which simply uses ‘off-the-shelf’ products from overseas may seem like it will work out cheaper, it can actually result in a failed final product.
You should only consider using pipe relining companies which:
- Have extensive Australasian experience
- Have installation AND product guarantees of up to 50 years with local offices you can visit to check on the progress of a claim (if necessary)
- Invest in their own product research and development
- Have products that have been tested, developed and manufactured in Australia for Australian and New Zealand conditions
- Are fully Australian-owned and use Australian/New Zealand products
- Are heavily involved in education and training
- Have an excellent local reputation they value
- Will offer CCTV footage of the pipe before AND after the repair
- Have products that can be custom designed to suit the particular requirements and specifications of your job
- Use honest, reliable, fully qualified (in Australia) and experienced professionals to carry out the work with the latest technology and equipment available.
If you’d like more information about whether you should consider pipe relining for projects you need to tackle, contact Nuflow on 1800 683 569 (AU) or 0800 168 356 (NZ)