Underground pipes are used to supply everything from water and oil, to gas, sewage, and chemicals. They are underneath our streets, parks, houses, and almost everywhere we go. As time passes, these pipes become old, and may become weakened, damaged, or they may even burst. The seams where they were welded together often crack, causing leaks, spills, and seepage. Harmful toxic chemicals can leak out of the pipes and into the ground, causing an environmental nightmare. Fixing our aging infrastructure can be costly, and messy. Until recently, the only way to fix old pipes was to dig, and manually repair or replace them. Fortunately, there have been advancements made in the way we mend our underground pipes. One of those advancements is called CIPP.
CIPP – cured in place pipe
A cured in place pipe, or CIPP, is the latest trend in repairing or replacing pipes without excavation. It is a jointless, seamless method of fixing pipes, and involves placing an epoxy sewer liner inside the old pipe. CIPP is used to replace small amounts of pipe, or larger lengths, up to hundreds of feet. The process is complicated, but it can be accomplished with little, or no digging at all.
The first step involves placing an epoxy, resin filled, and bendable liner inside the old pipe. The epoxy consists of a base, and a catalyst. Once the two are mixed together, it activates the epoxy, and the curing of the liner begins. The sewer epoxy lining looks like an elongated sock, or a long bendable tube. It is made of polyester, and is placed inside the damaged, or old pipe. Hot air pressure, or water pressure, is then used to expand the liner. It is enlarged to the point where it completely fills in the space between it, and the pipe. No air pockets should be left inside. The liner must be airtight, and totally against the inside edge of the pipe. The aim is to create a pipe inside of a pipe.
Next, the liner must be inspected. There can be no impediments stopping the liner from totally enveloping the inside of the pipe. Inspection can be done visually, or by using closed circuit television cameras, also known as CCTV. If done properly, CIPP technology actually increases the flow capacity of the old pipe.
Benefits of CIPP
There are numerous benefits to cured in place pipe technology. It saves time, energy, manpower, and a great deal of money. It also benefits the environment, by practically eliminating any excavation of the surrounding property. The odd time, a small hole may have to be dug to allow an entry point into the pipe. The result of CIPP is a seamless, better than before pipe, that has a 50-year life span. It can be used on straight pipelines, or Y and T shaped lines as well.
Disadvantages of CIPP
Although it is a great system, nothing is perfect. The existing pipes will have to be totally clean of debris. Anything that is trapped between the liner and pipe will be trapped there forever. Rocks, roots, grease, air, etc, should all be cleared before inserting the epoxy liner. The other disadvantage is the time limit of the epoxy. There is a 4-hour limit from when the liner is produced, to when it can be cured. It must be made, transported to the job site, placed inside the pipe, and cured all in the four hour span.
All in all, CIPP technology beats the old fashioned way of ‘dig and repair’. It also provides us with cleaner drinking water, and eliminates wastes more effectively. CIPP is cutting edge technology that enhances our quality of life.