If you’ve ever experienced sewer, drainage or water pipe problems in your residence or facility, you’ll know how inconvenient they can be. As mundane as they may sound, the complications that damaged pipes lead to can be troublesome and expensive. Fixing your damaged plumbing pipes requires specialised solutions, and pipe relining is one of the best methods you can use – compared to other fixes, pipe relining is quick, low-risk, and often much more cost-effective.
If your pipes have begun to show signs of leaks and cracks, but you’d like to avoid or minimise the expense and potential collateral damage associated with digging them up, there may be a relining method that can precisely fix the problem without needing to disturb trees or landscaping, or risk damaging surrounding structures such as driveways, retaining walls or footpaths.
What is pipe relining?
Pipe relining is an umbrella term for several methods of fixing damaged and leaking pipes from the inside, rather than disturbing the area surrounding the pipes – such as by pulling out walls, ripping up floors, trenching and/or excavating. Pipe relining, as the name suggests, involves repairing or replacing the inner surface of a pipe, either with a coating, flexible tubing or another rigid pipe. There are several methods of pipe relining, and while all aim to repair pipe problems in minimally invasive ways, the method you choose is important, especially if you want your repairs to be as hassle-free as possible.
How is pipe relining done?
There are a number of stages in the pipe relining process:
- Initial inspection of pipes: Pipes are inspected to assess the extent and location of the damage. Previously this was done with the help of remotely operated cameras, but technology has advanced and now a process called focused electron leak location (FELL) is used to more accurately pinpoint and evaluate the damage.
- Cleaning of pipes: There are several steps required to adequately clean and prepare the pipes for repair – the pipes are flushed, then any large blockages are removed, then a high-pressure water jet is used to perform a final clean of the pipe to fully prepare the inner surface of the pipe wall. This is done to ensure good adhesion of whichever product is used to line the pipe.
- Secondary inspection of pipes: Pipes are inspected a second time, after the cleaning process has been completed, to further check the extent of the damage and ensure the damaged pipes have been adequately cleaned and prepared for the relining. This is usually done with remotely operated closed-circuit cameras.
- Determination of relining length and method required: The pipe relining professional will determine the length of piping that requires relining, based on the entire length of the pipe/s involved and the extent of the damage. If your pipe relining professional offers different methods of pipe relining, they will determine which method best suits the damaged pipes and plan the repair accordingly.
- Installation of pipe relining materials: Using one of the methods of pipe relining outlined below, the pipe relining professional will undertake the selected relining process. This may involve insertion and curing of resin- or epoxy- coated tubing, or insertion of a replacement rigid pipe, usually made of durable polyethylene. This step of the relining process is the one that takes the longest to complete, as any joints or T-sections are fiddlier and will take more time and effort, and the curing process (if it is used) can take time to fully harden. This step may also include cutting of junctions and access/inspection pits, using grinders or robotic or surface-level cutters.
- Final inspection of pipes: Once the relining process has been completed, the pipe relining professional will perform final checks and inspections to ensure damage has been fully repaired and your pipes are working properly.
How does pipe relining work?
As mentioned, there are several pipe relining methods available (outlined below), and each of these methods can be used to address specific issues that your pipes face. Of course, you can’t just randomly choose from these methods – you’ll have to look at individual circumstances and seek advice from properly qualified professionals, like the team at Green Planet Plumbing, who will be able to advise you on the best method for your pipe repair.
The most widely used methods are as follows:
Cured-in-place piping (CIPP) is one of the most common relining methods available. After the damaged pipe has been cleaned and dried, a resin-saturated felt tube (usually made from polyester or fibreglass) is inserted into the damaged pipe. The resin is cured in place with jets of hot steam, which helps the felt to attach to the pipe’s interior, molding into internal cracks, and hardening in place.
A tried-and-tested, albeit older, relining method is sliplining. Sliplining involves inserting a narrower pipe into a larger damaged pipe and grouting the space between the two, thereby replacing the larger pipe with the smaller one. While this method is effective, it reduces the functional diameter of the pipe, which can cause future problems with blockages. It goes without saying that this method cannot be used on pipes that are already very narrow.
3. Pull-in-place lining
As the name suggests, pull-in-place lining involves fixing an epoxy-soaked felt tube liner into the pipe using heat (e.g., steam) and then pulling the liner through the pipe until it covers the damaged section. Air is then introduced into the pipe to inflate the tube, so that it lines the walls of the damaged pipe, an keep it in place while it dries. Once the inflated tube has dried it acts as a replacement for the damaged pipe.
4. Pipe Bursting
Pipe bursting is used on sewer lines or heavily damaged pipes. Due to the nature of this method, it is also best used on outdoor underground pipes. Pipe bursting involves the use of a bursting tool on one end of the system that is to be repaired. This tool breaks the old pipe apart while using hydraulics to draw new piping in to replace the old.
5. Internal Pipe Coating
Internal pipe coating is another excellent method to use for sewers and outdoor pipes. The damaged pipes in question are completely drained and left to dry, and then a thick coat of epoxy is applied to the inner walls of the pipes to cover any damage. This epoxy coat is left to dry for a few hours, with the resulting product being a sturdy internal coating on the pipe.
When should pipe relining be done?
Pipe relining can fix a wide variety of pipe problems but isn’t usable for all of them. When applicable, however, it is an excellent option if you want to minimise damage to the surrounding area. Some of the situations that pipe relining can be useful for include:
- Pipe deformities
You may notice that pipes that receive both hot and cold water are more prone to damage. This is because certain conditions can cause your pipes to become deformed. For example, alternately subjecting them to hot and cold temperatures can cause them to expand and contract, which can cause deformities over time.
- Breakage and damage
Cracks and tears in the pipes can eventually worsen and lead to further damage. Intrusions, like tree roots, can also cause significant damage and adversely affect pipe performance. Holes and cracks in the pipes can be effectively fixed by relining.
Pipes are sturdy, but they don’t last forever. No matter how well you take care of them, damage due to normal wear-and-tear will eventually become significant and problematic.
Older metallic pipes are often prone to rust damage, as rust weakens the structure of the pipe. If you suspect that your pipes are malfunctioning because of rust, then relining may be a useful alternative to replacement.
If you think your pipe problems are due to any of these issues, you should definitely contact a professional plumber with experience in pipe relining. The specially trained plumbers at Green Planet Plumbing have a wealth of experience in this area and are ready and willing to advise you on pipe relining alternatives. Relining definitely isn’t something you can or should do on your own, as you will only end up doing more harm than good.
When does pipe relining fail to work?
Pipe relining is incredibly versatile in terms of what it can fix, but it’s not a solution to all problems. Pipe relining cannot be used for excessive pipe displacement, severe damage, or situations where there is no suitable inner pipe surface to attach to. Generally, if the old pipe’s interior cannot be threaded through, then replacement may be necessary.
What should you watch out for?
If there are problems, then you should also be able to see or hear signs of damage. The most notable signs of damage you should watch out for include:
- Visible signs of damage
Visible signs of damage are obvious and should be addressed as soon as they are spotted. Examples include visible cracks, holes, deformities, gouges, and the presence of anything that pierces the pipe. Take note that when you spot objects piercing the pipe, but don’t remove them without professional help. Removing them without immediately plugging up the resulting hole will cause even more problems. Wait for a professional plumber to get there for immediate relining. Green Planet Plumbing offer 24/7 plumbing services in the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Central Coast and Hunter Valley regions, so you can contact us at any time if you have a plumbing emergency.
- Weak water pressure
If your home’s water pressure set at an adequate amount but the flow of water is weak, there are some things you need to consider. Either you have problems with your supplier, you have blocked pipes, or you have damaged pipes. Rule out all other possibilities before you decide on a solution. If you think it’s the latter, then relining may be your best option.
- Dirty or murky water
If your water supply is dirty, cloudy, or murky, then you may have a problem with your water supplier. However, if there’s no issue with the supplier, then the problem may be specific to your home. Some of your pipes may be damaged, leading to dirt or soil being sucked up by your pipes. This is especially the case for cracks and holes found in underground pipes. These cracks and holes, luckily, can be repaired through relining.
Leaks are among the most problematic consequences of damaged pipes. If there are visible signs like drips, puddles, or discolouration marks, then leaks are likely the problem. Most leaks can be fixed by relining as the cracks and holes can be covered up. Be sure to address these quickly as leaks can lead to other more serious problems, like water damage to your home that can be costly to repair.
- Water damage
Water damage should never be underestimated as it can severely affect the structure of a building or home. Water damage is particularly severe when it affects wood or plasterboard for an extended time. Signs of this include bubbles on wood or paint, the presence of mould, soft spots, or warped wood, stains on your ceiling or wall. Also, watch out for discolouration on harder materials like concrete and metal. If pipes are the cause, then you should get them fixed immediately to avoid further damage.
When any of these signs become apparent, try to determine the source of the damage. When you’ve worked out what’s causing the damage, addressing the issue should be easier, especially if relining is a process that can solve the problem.
Is pipe relining worth it?
Definitely! You can solve a lot of problems through pipe relining without shelling out too much money. In addition to this, you also minimise the amount of damage caused to the surrounding area. Knowing more about the pipe relining process and its benefits can help you make up your mind, and you should consider contacting a local professional plumber for advice. Green Planet Plumbing are a locally owned and operated licensed plumbing business servicing the Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Central Coast and Hunter Valley regions in New South Wales, and their knowledgeable, experienced, and fully insured plumbers can advise you on the right solution for your plumbing problem.
What are the benefits of pipe relining?
Do you need a little more convincing about the advantages of pipe relining? If so, knowing more about what the benefits of pipe relining are may help you decide whether the procedure is right for you. So, the benefits of pipe relining include:
- It solves a wide variety of pipe problems.
As we have explained earlier, pipe relining can solve a wide range of pipe problems. Cracks, deformities, leaks, rust, and breakage can all be easily fixed with right the materials and methods. You won’t have to look far for an effective pipe relining solution that can help.
- It is cost-effective.
Pipe relining is a cost-effective option because you don’t have to completely replace the pipe system. It’s also quite fast, meaning the labour costs won’t be as significant as complete pipe replacement. The materials involved won’t break the bank, either. Couple these with the fact that you don’t need extensive construction work, pipe relining is generally a lot cheaper.
- It is convenient.
You might think that any work involving plumbing pipes will take a long time. This is mostly true, especially if you think about pipe replacement and the excavation and construction work involved. Pipe relining is an exception because, without the need for lengthy excavations, pipe removal and replacement, you won’t waste your precious time on waiting, monitoring repairs, and downtime. Minimising downtime is important, especially if the fix is in a commercial establishment.
- You don’t need to dig deep.
You don’t need to have access to the entire pipe system for pipe relining to be done. For some relining methods, you only need to have access to a small portion of the pipes. This means that you won’t have to trench or dig up the entire pipe system to get it fixed.
- It doesn’t damage the surrounding area.
If you have concerns about the damage and noise that your pipe repairs might cause, have no fear! Because there’s no heavy excavation and construction work involved, relining ensures that disturbance or damage to the surrounding area is minimised, and noise isn’t a problem.
- It lasts a long time.
If done properly, pipe relining will last for decades to come. The materials used are often more durable than the original material, making your pipes more resistant to damage. It also gives you peace of mind knowing that you won’t have to worry about your pipes.
Of course, to gain these benefits, you need to find an experienced professional to undertake your pipe relining. Don’t go for just anyone; be sure to find an excellent pipe relining specialist in your area. The team at Green Planet Plumbing are happy to help you with all of your plumbing and pipe relining needs. Contact us today on 02 4911 9402 or 1300 GP PLUMBING.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about pipe relining:
1. How long does the fix last?
Without extreme events (like natural disasters) that can cause damage, relined pipes can last for decades. Of course, proper care and maintenance are still necessary to prolong their lifetime.
2. Is relining better than replacement?
It depends on the situation, but relining is the better option whenever possible. Pipe replacement can be quite invasive and inconvenient, so try to avoid it if there are effective alternatives. If relining is sufficient to solve the problem, then it may be a better solution compared to replacement. If not, then you may have no choice but to completely replace the damaged parts.
3. What relining method should you use?
Again, it depends. A qualified and experienced professional will be needed to accurately diagnose the problem, assess the situation, and determine which method is best. If you’re having plumbing problems and you suspect your pipes are the cause, contact the professional plumbing team at Green Planet Plumbing.
Contact Green Planet Plumbing for any problems with your water system
A lot of issues with your water supply can be traced back to problems with your pipes. If you are experiencing problems with your plumbing system, make sure you have an experienced, qualified professional take a look. Green Planet Plumbing has skilled professionals that can help diagnose and fix any pipe problems you’re facing. Fill out our online contact form or call us on 1300 GP PLUMBING or 02 4911 9402 to organise a consultation.