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A 5-Minute History of Small Diameter Pipe Restoration

Various forms of pipe restoration have taken place since the first pipes were installed.

For years, the procedure was to simply clean out the pipe, replace or repair it. Technology in piping materials improved and metal pipes made of lead, cast iron, steel and copper quickly replaced the need for pipes that were originally made of ceramics and wood products.

With use of metal pipes came a new problem: CORROSION.
Pipes began to deteriorate and develop small holes known as pinhole leaks and pipes were corroding from the inside as well as from outside sources. Lead, copper and other heavy metals were leaching into the water supply.

The Second World War in Europe and the Pacific brought about massive destruction of large cities, which were later rebuilt. The rebuilding of these cities brought with it material shortages and the widespread use of substandard products.

Through the 1950's and the early 1960's in Europe and Asia, cities were being rebuilt, populations were growing and demands on water for domestic and industrial use were increasing.

Water quality was dropping and the use of chemicals and changes in the methods and ways water was being treated all added to the negative effects on the piping systems.

Even today, the experts still can't agree on the effects to piping systems as a result of changes in water chemistry brought about by the EPA and others.
(For more information on this topic: of Dr. Marc Edwards, Professor at Virginia Tech, and the Washington, (DC) Suburban Sanitary Commission)

In North America the building boom of the late 1960's and the 1970's the industry experienced material shortages and the widespread use of substandard materials and in some cases poorly designed water systems.

By the 1970's in Europe and Asia the deteriorating "pipe problem" was now appearing widespread. The first attempts to repair pipes "in-situ" or in-place were conducted in Europe and Japan. If a coating material on the pipe were used at all to slow down the process of corrosion, it was usually a paint product.

As the problems associated with deteriorating pipes increased so did the efforts to try and find ways to stop corrosion and repair the piping systems that were being destroyed. Separate advances in the science of chemicals and coating materials were being made. Plastics and two part epoxies were being introduced into the market.

In the late 1970's, almost simultaneously in Japan and in Europe, a new technology was emerging known as in-place pipe restoration. The process was aimed at repairing or restoring pipelines in-place. Initially the process was aimed at large diameter underground pipes and eventually developed into what is referred to as "trenchless technology."

Improvements in trenchless technology advanced very quickly but the application was limited by the placement of mechanical devices into the pipeline. The technology could not be applied to small diameter pipes ... that is, pipes under 4" in diameter.

By the 1980's pipe restoration was being put into very limited and specialized application with positive results. Approvals for the use of pipe restoration applications were usually approved on a local basis, as there were no uniform standards involving the cleaning and coating materials used in the restoration process.

The absence of uniform standards made the application of the process very limited. When dealing with drinking water the absence of a health standard usually rendered the process unacceptable. Surprisingly, the process was rejected, not because pipe restoration was unsafe but because it was easier for regulators to say no to the product application in the absence of any regulations governing its use.

In 1984 the US Environmental Agency announced the privatization of its drinking water additives products registration program. In 1985 the EPA awarded the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) an agreement for development of a health standard and product certification program as it related to products that came into contact with drinking water.

Setting new health standards, NSF was helping to define the standards for pipe restoration as it related to approved (i.e.: safe) products. No longer could harmful chemicals be used in the cleaning process. No longer could solvent-based paints or solvent-based epoxies be used when coating or lining materials came into contact with potable water.

In the meantime, pipes continued to corrode. In North America those pipes installed in the building boom of the 1970's were now beginning to show signs of corrosion.

In the 1980's the US Navy Research Laboratory (NRL) developed a 2-part epoxy lining for water pipes called NRL4. This product contained methylene dianiline (MDA). On August 10, 1992 OSHA announced the use of methylene dianiline was subject to strict medical surveillance. The NRL4 product was removed from use.

In the final analysis, however, the process of "modern" pipe renovation using air, corundum and a solventless, 100% solids epoxy coating proved to be the right "formula" of combining equipment, technology and ease of application to get the job done.

In 1997 research conducted by the founders of the ACE DuraFlo® process of pipe restoration (ACE representing Air, Corundum and Epoxy) led them to review pipe restoration systems being used in Europe, Japan and the United States. They were able to recognize that a uniform system of application for pipe restoration combined with proper cleaning, coating materials and uniform health regulations were key ingredients in bringing the technology to market.

Basic Plumbing
To successfully carry out a pipe restoration project, some knowledge of plumbing is necessary.

Plumbing like many trades requires vocational training and job skills that can only be acquired by "hands - on" training.

The few pages of overview here are meant to assist a newcomer to the field of pipe restoration to some of the terminology and concepts about plumbing. This is not a plumbing course. A plumber is not a pipe restoration technician, nor is a pipe restoration technician a plumber. The two skills are, however, necessary to complete a successful pipe restoration job.