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Your grandmother is living in her cozy home when she abruptly experiences chronic plumbing problems. The home is experiencing pinhole leaks; she knows the problem must be fixed immediately. So, she contacts her favorite plumbing company. It evaluates the situation and decides to do a whole-house repipe.
This requires your grandmother to make other living arrangements for a week to two while contractors cut open the walls, ceilings and floors and replace the piping. Additional time and expense are needed to patch and paint the affected areas.
Although the repairs are needed, you wouldn’t want this experience for your grandmother. Aside from the jitters of allowing strangers into her beloved home, she would most likely feel anxious and uncomfortable about moving to a temporary, yet foreign home. Or what if she had a chronic illness or wasn’t able to live independently?
What if it wasn’t just your grandmother but a community of 100 or more seniors just like her who were accustomed to living environments tailored to their special needs?
This was the dilemma faced by The Covington, an upscale, four-story independent and assisting-living facility in Aliso Viejo, Calif. A few years after it opened in 2004, the community experienced pinhole leaks in its copper drinking water system. As time progressed, the leaks did, too. The property and its senior residents were plagued with three to five leaks per week.
“The costs of those repairs was anywhere between $100,000 and $150,000 a year,” says Krista Nay, The Covington’s executive director.
The staff began researching a permanent solution to the water leaks that would not disturb or disrupt the lives and special needs of their elderly residents. This search led the staff to discover the pipe-lining system ePIPE, an epoxy-coating technology that is NSF 61-approved. It also is listed by the Uniform Plumbing Code for use on metallic and nonmetallic piping systems.
Pipe Lining for Seniors
Pipe lining is a minimally invasive method to rehabilitate pipe in-place by cleaning and lining or coating the host pipe, preventing the need to dig them up and replace them. The process is easier than a repipe for both the customer and the certified installer. It reuses the host pipe and minimizes the amount of construction waste sent to landfills. It serves as a long-term solution for a wide variety of plumbing failures and, perhaps more importantly, it can considerably reduce the length of a project.
Plumbers who offer pipe-lining services can incur many benefits, including smaller crew sizes, faster project turnaround time, a broader range of potential customers and more well-paying jobs. Various forms of pipe-lining technologies are now available on the market, such as pull-in-place liners, inversion liners, spin casting and blown-through epoxy-coating methods.
Senior living properties such as The Covington consist of divergent components, including medical, residential, and leisure. They are not strictly homes but an assortment of facilities that need to remain operational to ensure resident health.
“The reason we chose ePIPE, as an organization, to manage this project was for several reasons,” Nay explains. “The most important ones were cost and the time that residents had to spend out of their units.”
ePIPE-certified installers cleaned and coated the hot and cold potable water pipe within the 131-unit main building of the community. The process is similar for most, if not all epoxy-coating applications on the market today. First, air hoses were connected to the piping system’s existing access points to dry the pipe using preheated, filtered air. Next, a mixture of air and sand was sandblasted through the interior of the dried piping, removing corrosion buildup and prepping the internal pipe surface for adequate bonding of the epoxy.
Then, liquid epoxy was blown through the isolated pipe system using preheated, filtered air. The epoxy was left to cure, resulting in a strong protective barrier coating throughout the inside of the pipe system. The restored pipe system was tested and then turned back online.
Nay says the community’s residents had high comfort levels throughout the project, which is one of the biggest advantages when deciding between pipe lining or a repipe. “When they left, you’d never know they were here,” adds resident Lynn Brinkman.
Unlike a repipe, the facility’s water did not have to be turned off for the entire project. Only the units or rooms where the ePIPE crew was working were without water, while the other units and parts of the building had functioning potable water. All residents were able to remain in their homes during the ePIPE process, owing in part to the fast return-to-service time of 90 minutes, ensuring that the restoration project caused minimal disruption to residents and staff.
“The fact that a community such as ours could have a team come in and do this in such a short period was a very positive experience,” says Kandi Gall, director of resident relations at The Covington.
The pipe-lining restoration project substantially extended the useful life of the property’s potable system, while protecting the system from pinhole leaks, corrosion and other common problems. Pipe relined with ePIPE also have improved water quality due to the reduction of heavy-metal leaching. Poor water quality due to lead and copper in the water may have been a problem for The Covington. After completion of the project, water samples from the property were taken and tested under the LeadSmart program. These results indicated the water quality for lead and copper complied with EPA guidelines.
If you’re working with customers who are heading up a retirement community project, take note. It’s imperative to keep in mind there are most likely residents who are not mobile, who may not be able to perform basic tasks independently, who need medical staff nearby, or who may have other special needs. Moving people out of their homes and into temporary accommodation is not an easy task and may not be a viable alternative. Discuss the available technologies with your client and use your expertise to provide the right solution for the best outcome.
Pipe-lining technologies, such as epoxy coatings, provide an array of significant benefits for all types of properties. These beneficial features are exceptionally important for fragile living environments, such as senior-living facilities, which depend on keeping their elderly residents comfortable, happy and healthy. When faced with chronic plumbing issues, it’s important to give a retirement facility the option to choose a minimally destructive pipe restoration technology.
Amanda Strouse is part of the marketing and public relations team for pipe-lining technology manufacturer ACE DuraFlo, creator of the patented ePIPE product. For more information, call 800-359-6369 or visit www.epipeinfo.com.