An Unbiased Answer to: What Is the Best System to Repair a Pipe?

TABLE-A-TT-Article-submitToday, there is a tremendous opportunity in the field of subsurface pipe restoration. The infrastructure in the United States, in general, has been steadily deteriorating since the 1960s. This includes water infrastructure (WI) and wastewater infrastructure (WWI).

In fact, the deterioration of water infrastructure and wastewater infrastructure has reached a critical state. According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are as many as 75,000 sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) per year in the United States, resulting in the discharge of up to 10 billion gals of untreated water. This kind of dangerous overflow results in cross contamination that produces an estimated 5,500 annual illnesses, some resulting in death.¹

The report goes on to say that:“…it is not economically feasible to completely replace all of our nation’s (aging infrastructure) with new infrastructure, the application of repair, renewal, and replacement technologies is crucial in order to reinstate functionality in a…wastewater system…”

There is a clear danger to public health and welfare.

Municipal water entities are painfully aware of these problems. Consent decrees are routinely issued. Mandated remedies are, in many cases, taking years and millions of dollars to implement. Of course, homeowners and business owners are included in this growing problem — a problem that cannot be managed solely by open cutting (digging) and replacing.

Pipe rehabilitation is seen as an effective solution to an ever increasing and very expensive problem. It is becoming more obvious there is significant opportunity in the pipe rehabilitation business. Once a practitioner decides to enter the pipe rehabilitation business, the next step is to conduct research on the most appropriate system for their needs.

I have been asked on a number of occasions: How can a practitioner objextively select the best cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) system?

While there are a number of ways to repair a pipe, in the interests of answering the question, I will confine my remarks to the world of CIPP.

There are three major categories for every CIPP lining system: 1) Method of Installation, 2) Materials Used and 3) Curing Method. Within each of these categories, there are sub-categories (see Table A). There are many possible ways (more than 78) to combine these sub-categories to configure a potential lining system. There is a fair amount of information about lining systems available, but everything I have seen to date has a major drawback.

Writers seem to pick just one combination of sub-categories and talk about. It as if this was the only viable option available to a practitioner. This bias seems to spring from several prejudices. One, is the writers may only be aware of the one system about which they are writing. They are not knowledgeable about the various combinations that could exist or in fact do exist.

Follow this link for a PDF version of TABLE A.

The writers may write with a bias toward a specific product or brand. Under the guise of fairness he/she has removed brand names. Yet he/she talks about specific, limited system characteristics as if they alone defined the universe of possibilities available to a practitioner.

We will dissect the major categories and sub-categories and give an unbiased accounting of pros and cons. The practitioner will then be able to select the criteria that makes the most sense for them and their business. Once the optimum criteria are identified, the practitioner can then begin to match that to a specific brand. This approach will eliminate a lot of confusion and help the practitioner avoid some of the major pitfalls associated with entering this new line of business.

Table A reveals the various insertion methods, material sets, and curing processes. Before you consider a manufacturer or a system, I invite you to “design” your own ideal system based on the sub-elements that would work best for your business and your market.

The first step is: Focus on your business. Look at your business model and your business plan. Using the 80/20 rule as a guide, describe the profile of your current typical client. For the client described, what would the characteristics of a rehabilitation project look like (diameter, length, offset, transition, bends, nature of material traveling through the pipe, considerations for temperature, and/or pressure, etc.)?

To the extent that you “don’t know” about your current business, you will ultimately be guessing about the criteria of the best solution for your business. This will almost always turn out to be an expensive guess. To the extent that you know your business and can formulate good answers, you will lock in solid criteria. You can use this criteria to help you select an optimal solution.

Once you have this criteria, it is time for the second step: Turn to Table A. Table A is provided to help select/eliminate criteria based on how well it can deliver an effective solution to your typical client/job characteristic profile. Using answers to questions about your typical client, you can narrow the options down to an optimal combination of insertion method, materials set, and cure process. It really is that simple.

Let’s look at an example of the characteristics that you might encounter.

The analysis of your business reveals that your core client is a homeowner or small business owner. Your average job is a 4- to 8-in. diameter pipe of 50 to 90 ft in length. With these client pipes you see transitions, you see bends, you see missing sections of pipe and you see offsets.

Noxious odors would be a big problem for your business and residential clients. To maintain margins, you need to get in and out as quickly as possible. You need to deliver an outstanding result. You have limited capital to invest up front. You would like a reasonable monthly payment schedule you can comfortably meet given the available work.
Table A shows Pulled-in-Place (PIP) to be a great option as it is ideal for short run repairs (anything less than 100 ft) that may exhibit transitions, bends, offsets and missing sections of pipe. For these same reasons, fiberglass is an excellent material choice for you. Noxious odors are completely eliminated by using epoxy resin. To get you in and out as quickly as possible, you want to use some type of short duration, proven, reliable cure. Indirect heat holds two major advantages for you. First, it offers one of the fastest cure times. Second, it provides you with peace of mind knowing the repair is completely cured.

To summarize, for this category of typical client, you may want to consider a system that provides the following:
Insertion Method: PIP, Materials: Fiberglass and Epoxy resin Cure: Indirect, measured heat offering a guaranteed cure.

On the other hand, if your typical customer was a larger entity with bigger jobs (averaging more than 300 ft in length; 8- to10-in. diameters) you would go through the same thought process in selecting insertion method, materials and cure. These characteristics would lead you to a different end result and a different type of system.

Regardless of your typical client profile, using this format, you will be able to narrow your search down to those one or two manufacturers in a position to deliver the optimal system you require for your business. You can examine other aspects of each manufacturer (quality, customer service, training, ease of use, etc.) to make your final choice.
Using this format you will be able to quickly zero in on the best CIPP system for you.

You will be well on your way to earning your share of the tremendous profits in this growing opportunity.

Walt Pazderski is a sales development expert, helping to bring technical ideas and specific actions to help clients increase their sales and revenues. He works closely with Formadrain Inc.

US EPA, Aging Water Infrastructure Research: Science and Engineering for a Sustainable Future, Publication No. EPA/600/F-11/010
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