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Your grandmother is living in her cozy home, when the home abruptly experiences chronic plumbing problems. For the sake of the story, let’s say the home is experiencing pinhole leaks and knows that the problem has to be fixed immediately.
So she contacts her favorite plumbing company, which evaluates the situation and decides to do a whole-house repipe. She is then practically kicked out of her house for a week to two, while the walls, ceilings and floors are cut open, pipes are ripped out and replaced, walls and ceilings are cut open and patched. And then there is the added issues and expenses of painting, etc.
Although the pinhole leaks must be fixed, you wouldn’t want this experience for your grandmother. Especially if she doesn’t have close family living nearby. Aside from the jitters of allowing strangers into her home, she would most likely feel anxious and uncomfortable about moving to a temporary, yet foreign home.
But what if your grandmother had a chronic illness or wasn’t able to live independently? Surely, having to go without the comfort of her home for at least a week would be an even bigger challenge, physically and emotionally. Your concern for her would be well-deserved.
However, what if this wasn’t just your grandmother? What if it was a community of 100 or more seniors just like her, who were all accustomed to their living environments being tailored to their special needs?
Displacement should not be an option. Thus, sometimes repipes should not be an option.
Yes, plumbers fix plumbing. But they can’t ignore the human component to their work. A house isn’t only a small, single-family structure – it’s someone’s home.
Usually, customers have already had their fair share of distress before the plumbers even show up. Why make an uncomfortable situation even more unpalatable by telling them they have to move out during the repipe – when there’s often a better option?
Thank the modern times, engineers and innovators for in-place, pipe-lining technologies.
Benefits of in-place pipe restoration
Pipe lining is a minimally invasive method to rehabilitate pipes in-place by cleaning and lining or coating the host pipes, 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.
Pipe lining was first brought to America more than 40 years ago and has been dominating the innovative realm of plumbing since. Plumbers who use pipe lining can incur a ton of benefits, including smaller crew sizes, faster project turnaround time, a broader range of potential customers and more well-paying jobs.
There are now various forms of pipe-lining technologies available on the market, such as pull-in-place liners, inversion liners, spin-casting and blown-through epoxy coating methods.
Aside from this technology greatly benefitting plumbers, it also greatly benefits customers. Pipe lining is preferred, because it produces minimal to no destruction to the property, often has a smaller project price tag (because there are fewer costs), serves as a long-term solution for a wide variety of plumbing failures and is environmentally-friendly, since it reuses the host pipes and minimizes the amount of construction waste sent to the landfills.
Perhaps even more importantly, it can considerably reduce the length of the project, as well as prevent displacement to residents or tenants. Those are some of the key reasons why it’s ideal for sensitive residential properties, such as retirement communities.
Senior living properties are made up of divergent components, including medical, residential, hospitable and leisure. They are not strictly homes, but an assortment of facilities that need to remain operational to ensure resident health.
If your business accepts a retirement community project, it’s imperative to keep in mind there are most likely many residents who are not mobile, some who are not able to perform basic tasks independently, some who need a medical staff nearby at all times and some who need other special amenities. Moving these people out of their homes and into temporary accommodation is not easy and it might even be infeasible.
As professionals who work inside people’s homes, contractors have to understand that a senior living center is a delicate environment that needs to be disturbed as little as possible, because lives are literally at stake.
That is why pipe lining’s in-place process is the ideal pipe restoration technology for these types of properties.
Cost-savings solution, too
Discussing an example of how pipe lining extensively benefited a senior community is one of the best ways to prove and explain the benefits for this type of property.
A great example is a pipe-lining project that was performed at The Covington, an upscale, four-story independent and assisting living facility in Aliso Viejo, California.
It is a luxurious property with picturesque grounds, but we all know that external beauty doesn’t reduce the chance of plumbing problems. A few years after opening in 2004, this 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 executive director.
The staff at The Covington knew that this problem had to be stopped, so they began searching for a permanent solution to pinhole leaks that would not disturb or disrupt the lives and special needs of their elderly residents. This search led the staff to discovering the patented system, ePIPE, an epoxy coating technology that is approved by NSF 61 with the industry’s quickest return to service at 90 minutes and is listed by the Uniform Plumbing Code for use on metallic and nonmetallic piping systems.
“The reason that we chose ePIPE, as an organization, to manage this project was for several reasons, one because of cost,” Nay adds. “And the time that each resident had to spend out of their unit, as well as the staff themselves.”
ePIPE-certified installers had to clean and coat the hot and cold potable pipes 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 pipes using preheated, filtered air. Next, a mixture of air and sand was sandblasted through the interior of the dried pipes, 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.
“When they left, you’d never know that they were here,” says resident Lynn Brinkman.
Nay said that the community’s residents had high comfort levels throughout the ePIPE project, which is one of ePIPE’s biggest advantages when deciding between it or a repipe.
Unlike a repipe, the facility’s water did not have to be turned off for the entire project. Only the units or rooms that were being worked on at a particular moment did not have water, while the other units and parts of the building had functioning potable water. All of the residents were able to remain in their homes during the ePIPE process and, owing in part to the fast return to service ePIPE coating and process, all residents had their potable water turned back on every night. This ensured that the restoration project caused the absolute minimal disruption to the residents and staff.
“It’s been a really overall great experience, and the fact that a community like ours could have a team come in and do this in such a short period of time was really a very positive experience,” says Kandi Gall, The Covington director of resident relations.
The epoxy coating 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.
Post-ePIPE, water samples were taken and tested under the LeadSmart program. These results showed the water quality for lead and copper was in compliance with the EPA guidelines.
Pipe-lining technologies, such as epoxy coatings, provide an array of significant benefits for all types of properties. But 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, such as epoxy coatings.
Amanda Strouse is on the marketing and public relations team for ACE DuraFlo, the creator of the patented ePIPE product and worldwide group of installers that utilize the patented ePIPE process to restore pipes in-place. For more information, visit epipeinfo.com.