Nothing is worse than an inspection gone afoul. Much less a sewer inspection since replacement costs are so high. But that’s just what I faced last month during the inspection of my recently closed rehab in Tower Grove South. Turns out there were some issues with the sewer lateral we didn’t know about and the buyers would not go ahead with the sale unless they were fixed. The initial estimates for the pipe replacement had me considering walking away, but when I met up with a pipe lining specialist I changed my mind.
At this point you are probably wondering what in the world I am talking about. For those unaware, this method of sewer repair relies on cleaning out the existing pipe and lining it with a special polymer to restore the integrity. Some companies refer to this as the trenchless method. You don’t really hear much about this kind of thing much in St. Louis, but when I started to research the topic I found that we are just late to the trend. It turns out that this technique has been popular for years in Europe and in some areas along the east and west coasts of the United States. Its just know gaining attention here.
So whats so special about this stuff? Consider the following:
- COST – For most applications this method can offer pretty significant savings over traditional methods. Estimates to repair the damaged 5 foot long section at my project were floating around $2500 to dig up and replace the pipe. The costs were so high because the damaged section was just outside the foundation underneath a deck. It reach the pipe the deck would have to be disassembled and everything dug out by hand. With the lining method the cost was only $1,125.
- PROPERTY DAMAGE – Not only does the labor involved in traditional methods typically cost more, it also has a tendency of doing a lot of damage to your property. Decks, sidewalks, fences, foundations and especially landscaping often have to undergo significant repair work after digging around them. Since places that need sewer work are typically historic in natures, this damage is a major concern.
Its really a fascinating process too. I wish I had my camera with me while the were doing it, but I will have to settle for describting the process. They started out by cleaning out and prepping the damaged section of pipe with various tools. Once they had the exact dimensions of the area to be repairs they cut a piece of a special tube of epoxy. They chemically treated this tube then managed to get it in place through some miraculous means. Once in place they inflated the tube inside the pipe. The inflated tube was then sprayed with really hot water to start a chemical reaction and then cured for a little over an hour. And that was it.
I really couldn’t believe it work so well, but the pipe is now repaired for less that half the cost and with the same durability as traditional methods. Makes me wish I had heard of this thing years ago. If you are interested in the process yourself, I know there are a few guys in town who do this, but I used Pipe Lining Plus and was quite happy. I actually pulled the diagram above from their site. For more info you can call them at 314-576-6344 or visit their website.This technique has its limiations and may not be right for your situation, but its worth looking into.
If you have any experience with pipe lining yourself please share a few thoughts on your experience.