Pipe Lining’s Hidden Secrets:

Why the Industry Doesn’t Want You To See Inside Your Lined Pipes.

What is Pipe Lining?

Pipe lining is often viewed as an alternative to “repiping” (installation of new piping to replace old or defective piping) for multifamily apartment and condominium communities. The lining process involves coating the pipes from the inside (or for drain lines installing a “pipe within a pipe”), supposedly creating a long-lasting and maintenance-free solution that solves pipe leaks.

Despite manufacturers’ and installers’ claims, however, the challenges with pipe lining solutions are both real and numerous, and the results of pipe lining may be less than desirable

Piping Systems in Multifamily Properties

There are multiple piping systems in a residential multifamily property, including supply pipes that bring drinking water into the building, and, drain, waste and vent pipes that carry waste water out of the building; depending on the heating and cooling system configuration, some buildings have hydronic HVAC pipes that connect boilers and chillers to radiators or fan coil units to heat and cool a property. Many people assume that these systems should last a lifetime, and because they are hidden behind walls and underground, they are frequently forgotten until there is a problem (or a series of ever-increasing problems). However, as buildings age, SageWater has found that these systems are in need of repair or replacement, and apartment community owners, property managers and condominium boards are looking for solutions.

Through extensive marketing efforts, the pipe lining industry has positioned itself as a viable alternative to repiping. However, mounting evidence is now calling into question the value proposition and long-term viability of these solutions, and stakeholders should be aware of the limitations and risks associated with pipe lining options.

Pipe Lining Technologies: Epoxy and Cured-In-Place Pipe

To explore the facts about pipe lining, this site organizes the discussion into two sections that correspond to the two primary technologies currently available in the marketplace for typical multifamily properties: epoxy pipe lining and cured-in-place pipe (CIPP). Within each section, the authors provide an overview of the technology, discussion of installation techniques and key considerations and limitations that should be considered.

Epoxy Lining is a general term for a variety of different plastic resins used on hot and cold water supply pipes, sprinkler lines, HVAC piping, gas lines and certain drain, waste and vent piping.

As a lining solution, CIPP is appropriate for systems such as underground, larger diameter drain and sewer lines, where access costs are very expensive and there are fewer connections to be concerned about.

Limitations of Epoxy Pipe Lining

Challenges with Cured-In-Place

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Final Conclusions

For a variety of reasons ranging from health issues, to installation challenges, to warranty concerns, to financial implications and cost comparisons to pipe replacement, the authors do not believe pipe lining solutions are a viable resolution to pipe problems within the building envelope. Both epoxy lining and CIPP lining pose considerable risks when used indoors and cannot be recommended as an alternative to a complete system repipe.

SageWater has encountered failed pipe lining jobs, as well as partially completed pipe lining jobs, that now require a full pipe replacement, after the building has incurred the cost of the lining process. Failed pipe lining has resulted in numerous lawsuits across the lining industry. If a community is considering lining their pipes, the authors highly recommend obtaining a repipe bid at the same time, to effectively compare the costs, benefits and risks of each option.