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Old plumbing in historic buildings needs modern technology


By Amanda Strouse, ACE DuraFlo

building’s history speaks volumes about its location. Its history is what makes the building and its surroundings special, attracting locals, tourists and tenants alike. But with old buildings comes old infrastructure. And while the walls surely have stories to tell, the infrastructure systems may be hanging on by a thread… or may be unknowingly damaging the building from the inside out. 

Historical buildings demand a lot of daily maintenance and cleaning.  However, some infrastructure systems can carelessly fall through the cracks. One such example is the plumbing system. 

Miles of piping, jig-jagging inside the walls, floors and ceilings, is used to heat and cool the building, save lives in case of a fire, drain water from the roof, provide clean water and take away waste. These pipes have critical functions that are working 24/7, but they may not receive adequate attention until there are visible signs of failure (wet spots, mould, low water pressure, etc.). It’s a risk that shouldn’t be taken. 

Maintenance teams need to routinely assess the plumbing systems for signs of aging or failures – and, better yet, take precautionary steps to greatly reduce the chances of plumbing problems. While recognizing an imminent plumbing disaster is important, taking steps to extend the useful life of the plumbing system before issues arise is key. 

Plumbing is one of the worst components to neglect, because piping failures are inevitable and occur with increased age. This leaves historical buildings with a severely elevated risk of encountering piping failures. Furthermore, the extent of possible damage, expenses for clean-up and repair, as well as disruption to the building’s operations can be devastating. For example, if pipe leaks occur, they can damage the building’s original structure, as well as priceless historical items on display, such as furniture and art. 

Engineers and maintenance professionals working for historic buildings are faced with a challenge: How can their plumbing systems be repaired, renovated or upgraded while the building remains preserved and undamaged?


Enter modern, non-invasive technology to the rescue. 

A perfect example of modern technology being used to keep an historic property intact is a project that was completed at Sulphur Springs Elementary School in Tampa, Florida. The school is almost 100 years old (constructed in 1926) and was experiencing pinhole leaks, discoloured water, reduced water pressure and leaching of heavy metals as a result of its aged potable water system. The Hillsborough School District decided that a re-pipe would cause too much damage to the historic seven-building campus, so it instead chose a non-invasive epoxy coating technology to restore the pipe system. 

Florida Pipe-Lining Solutions conducted the work and used the patented ePIPE technology to clean and coat the interior of the school’s hot and cold potable system – approximately 1,200 feet of piping. The project was undertaken over the summer, while the school was not in session. 

ePIPE works by connecting hoses to different access points and then using a blown-through method of restoration. First, the technicians turned off the school’s water supply, then descaled the 1/2 inch through 2 inch pipes by pushing an abrasive material through the interior of the pipes with clean, compressed air. Next, the barrier coating was blown through, then left to cure. The result was a thin, yet strong, smooth, porcelain-like coating that restores the piping system from the inside. Once the coating cured, the potable system was tested and then put back into service. 

The ePIPE epoxy coating is a plumbing code-approved barrier coating engineered to reduce corrosion, leaks, discoloured water, scale build-up and also minimising lead and copper leaching into the school’s drinking water supply, making the water safe for consumption. ePIPE’S patented process is effective at bringing piping systems into compliance with the EPA’s (United States Environmental Protection Agency) guidelines for lead. 

As a result of ePIPE’s non-invasive method, none of the teachers, school staff or the nearly 800 enrolled students were disrupted and the historical campus was left preserved and intact. Thanks to noninvasive restoration methods, such as epoxy coating technologies, historical buildings can have plumbing systems rehabilitated without causing damage to the treasured properties.  


Florida Pipe-Lining Solutions CFC1425801

210 Field End St. Sarasota, Florida 34240

1-800-977-5325 www.FixMyLeaks.com

Reducing Lead In Your Water Can Bring You Thousands Of Dollars When Selling Your Home


Reducing Lead (Pb) in Your
Water Can Bring You
Thousands of Dollars When
Selling Your Home


Many people think that because they do not have lead pipes in their plumbing system that they do not have to worry about the risks of lead poisoning from contaminated drinking water, but that is not the case. Homes built before 1988, and plumbing fixtures installed prior to 2014 may contain lead which can leach into your property’s drinking water.

Lead Contributors, such as lead solder and some brass fixtures, can elevate lead levels in drinking water to exceed the current EPA guideline of 15ppb.

Wayne Held, a Southern California resident recently had his property tested by a LeadSmart Certified Technician and was surprised to find out that his drinking water contained levels of lead much higher than the US-EPA allowable levels. As part of the LeadSmart program, a thorough plumbing analysis was done on his home, and it was discovered that his kitchen faucet contained lead that was leaching into his drinking water. The LeadSmart technician recommended replacement of the faucet to reduce the lead levels to an acceptable level. Once this was done, the water was re-tested, and lead levels in Mr. Held’s home are now well below the EPA allowable limit.

Wayne stated “I would have never imagined that a fairly new faucet could be potentially poisoning me and my family. I am thankful to the LeadSmart team for detecting the problem and providing me and my family with safe drinking water.”

The LeadSmart Lead Protection Plan provides multiple levels of protection aimed at lead leaching by offering peace of mind by testing, identifying and bringing properties into compliance with the US EPA guideline for lead contamination.

A LeadSmart Certificate of Compliance is issued when the property is tested in compliance to current EPA guidelines for lead.

Florida Pipe-Lining Solutions      210 Field End St.      Sarasota, Florida 34240
(941) 308-5325      CFC1425801      www.FixMyLeaks.com




Schools with Lead
Tainted Water get
Passing Grade with
ePipe® LeadSmart™


Is Your School EPA Lead Compliant? This past year, officials across the country have been testing for lead in school’s drinking water systems. Many schools continue to fail the EPA requirement for lead leaching.

Lead leaching into the drinking water is not limited to lead pipes. Lead contributors, such as lead solder in copper piping systems used until 1986 as well as brass valves and fixtures, can leach lead at levels that exceed the EPA’s cut off levels.

The ePIPE® LeadSmart program is a comprehensive solution for schools facing harmful lead & copper levels in their drinking water systems. The program involves a review of possible sources of lead leaching, corrective actions which include application of the patented ePIPE process, and where necessary, replacement of suspect lead contributing fixtures.

Picture2 The ePIPE® Lead-Free, Leak-Free pipe protection reduces lead and copper leaching to well below the EPA cut off levels.  Using the proven ePIPE process, a fast curing barrier coating is applied to the pipes which reduces lead and copper leaching into the drinking water, and also protects against leaks.

Compared to a repipe, the ePIPE® LeadSmart program is minimally invasive, safe, and cost effective. Protected by 16 patents, the proven ePIPE® system stops leaching lead in school water piping systems with shorter project times.

This past summer, more than 40 Florida school facilities have had corrective actions completed with ePIPE’s patented, in-place pipe remediation technology.

Result: Lead levels in the schools’ drinking water were all brought into compliance using the ePIPE® LeadSmart program.


Florida’s Leader in Pipe Restoration.

Smooth Under Pressure

Contractor uses blown epoxy lining system to rehabilitate waterlines in a large apartment complex.

A general contractor renovating a 15-story public housing project in St. Petersburg, Fla., noticed drain stack problems in two of the three apartment towers. He called Michael Larson of Florida Pipe-Lining Solutions in Sarasota.

Air hoses from the compressor and dryer run up the side of an apartment building to the eighth-floor control room. Clear hoses coming down from the 15th floor go to the separator and dust collector.

As Larson's crew evaluated the situation, they found fixtures from the fifth floor down with little or no water pressure, and most were gummed up after standing idle for two years. Any water sputtering out was brown with rust. The focus of the project shifted to the water pipes because they were the pertinent issue.

"The contractor had pipe samples from 18 months of remodeling and making mechanical repairs," says Larson. "The 1-inch trunk lines were up to 50 percent occluded and some half-inch branch lines were completely encrusted. My first concern was how to get air through the pipes to sandblast them."

Larson chose the ePIPE process from ACE DuraFlo Systems to rehabilitate the galvanized pipes with an epoxy lining. Instead of being one of the first contractors on-site, however, Larson's crew found themselves near the end of the project with 50 other workers from five subcontractors racing toward the finish line.

"The developer, wanting to fill residencies as soon as possible, imposed a very tight timeline," says Larson. Despite the congestion and heightened risk factors, they restored the North and East Tower water systems, including branch lines to all 348 units, in six months.

Under control

The top-fed piping system had 3- and 4-inch mains, 1- and 2-inch trunk lines, and 1/2- to 3/4-inch branch lines. Six workers transported a sandblasting unit, two air headers to regulate pressure, and an epoxy dispenser to a control room on the eighth floor. From there, they worked down to the first floor and up to the 15th floor. The Atlas Copco 1100 air compressor (1,059 cfm/290 psi) and heated Ingersoll-Rand desiccant dryer remained outside the building.

From the header in the control room, 1-inch red hoses run up and down the stairwell to all 15 floors.

To prevent the two heavy 2-inch air hoses and exhaust hoses from kinking or swaying along the exterior of the building, the crew fashioned brace arms with 90-degree bends from galvanized fittings. They mounted them on every third floor just inside apartment windows, with arms protruding out to restrain the hoses.

Exhaust hoses ran out a 15th floor window to the ground. Workers secured them to a six-hole flange with 4-inch Tapcon screws in the concrete roof. To hoist the air hoses, two men in the control room lowered a rope, then hauled up the attached hose while members on every other floor manually controlled sway.

Pneumatic power

The air-driven process used a compressor feeding air to the dryer, which reduced the dew point (moisture in air) to a range of minus 10 to minus 100 degrees. "The air must be absolutely dry for sandblasting and injecting the epoxy," says Larson.

In the control room, the air hoses connected to two air headers, each with 16 ports for 1-inch hoses connecting to individual floor manifolds with five ports. The manifold, with individual valves, fed air through 1-inch hoses to fixtures (sinks, toilet, tubs). "We had two supply hoses on each floor and 32 manifolds," says Larson. "Approximately two miles of 1-inch air hoses congested hallways and ran up and down stairwells to all 15 floors."

Another 1-inch hose supplied air from the header to the sandblaster. The air, introduced at 60 to 80 psi, mixed with 50 pounds of aluminum oxide in the hopper and was delivered to the manifold and hoses, which were hooked to connections with Chicago click-and-twist fittings. Workers cleaned from the 15th floor down.

In the closed-loop system, vacuum from the dust collector pulled debris and air into the 2-inch exhaust hoses on the 15th floor, then down to the separator. Large chunks dropped out, while air continued into the dust collector where two large commercial filters removed particles and released clean air.

The Atlas Copco 1100 air compressor pushes air through the Ingersoll-Rand desiccant dryer to remove any moisture from the pipes before lining.

Clogged solid

"Our biggest challenge was getting air into the blocked half-inch branch lines on the first to fifth floors," says Larson. The labor-intensive, slow process involved injecting small amounts of air at the connection, then reversing the flow to suck moisture from the incrustation. Accessing the branch lines required working in tight quarters, with the crew hugging toilets and climbing into kitchen sink cabinets to reach the pipes. When the scale looked dry enough to break loose, they hit the pipe with a hammer and vacuumed out the debris.

Workers cut into finished and unfinished walls to replace the piping in cases where they couldn't establish an airflow channel for sandblasting. "We found the worst conditions in studios with a single bathroom and kitchen," says Larson.

To prepare the surface for the epoxy, they cleaned the pipes to bright metal. "Penetration is always a problem when dealing with pipes this bad," says Larson. "Sandblasting causes holes the diameter of pencils that epoxy will not seal, and they usually occur at the back of 90-degree elbows."

The crew rehabilitated 150-foot hot- or cold-water risers one at a time. Each fed a back-to-back bathroom or kitchen group. "Risers were usually 2 inches at the 15th floor reducing to 3/4 inch at the lower floors," says Larson. "Drying the scale and sandblasting each took three hours, then we applied the coating." They also changed out all the ball valves and sink angle stops (shut-off valves).

Rumble and roar

The ANSI/NSF Standard 61 certified epoxy was shot through the same hookups, except that workers disconnected the air hose from the sandblaster and hooked it to the epoxy dispenser. The machine mixed resin and catalyst from two cylinders at 50/50, then a foot pedal dispensed 100 mL per shot into a clear 1-inch tube 6 to 10 feet long.

A technician brought the tubes to a floor manifold, closed all the valves, and removed the hoses from the manifold to the connections. He connected the tubes, charged the manifold, opened the valve to a tube port, and injected the epoxy. "For a 16-mil coating, a 100 mL shot goes 15 feet in a 1/2-inch pipe and 10 feet in 3/4-inch pipe," says Larson. "Based on those distances, we calculate how much epoxy to pump into the tubes."

Lining risers began by shooting from the first to second floor, then advancing a floor at a time. "We could hear the epoxy moving through the pipe and knew when it arrived at the connection," says Larson. "After the epoxy set for 24 hours, we pressure-tested the riser at 80 to 120 psi for two hours. If we lost a lot of pressure, we injected continuous air at 120 psi and stationed guys in every unit to listen for it escaping."

A 2-inch trunk line with a 16-mil ANSI/NSF Standard 61-certified epoxy coating.

With the proper apartment identified, workers pulled a shower trim plate, inserted a RIDGID mini SeeSnake into the wall, and looked for leaks. Epoxy on the wall – usually by a 90-degree elbow – was a dead giveaway. They then cut through the drywall and replaced the fitting.


Flushing the risers was the final test. As water ran through fixtures and down drains, it occasionally flooded the room. "We knew we weren't at fault because the coating had passed the pressure test," says Larson. Cutting through the walls revealed 10-foot-long by 1/2-inch-wide cracks in drain stacks. This happened regularly, but the company didn't have the contract to repair them.

Workers completed two back-to-back bathroom and kitchen risers per week. As soon as they finished, the units were occupied. "In certain places, increased pedestrian traffic made it necessary to hang the hoses to clear hallways," says Larson.

The transformed government housing project is now home to college students, interns at nearby hospitals, and young professionals.

Original Article By Scottie Dayton