TDT Plumbing upgrades middle school’s deteriorating pipes

By Amanda Strouse

Sometimes a building needs a facelift. Perhaps the interior look needs freshening up, a redesign to create more space or the installation of new, energy-efficient changes to lower costs. A renovation is a beneficial alternative to finding a new location, but obstacles may lie within the details.

When a building is going through a renovation, there are many challenges that the building and its tenants face. Will the renovation cause business disruption? Will the renovation be completed on time? Will the renovation be completed on budget, especially if more problems are found during the work?

While a contractor is replacing plumbing fixtures and making cosmetic repairs, the building’s aging pipes are revealed, and they are rarely in adequate shape. Most pipe systems have a life span of approximately 50 years, with many pipe systems experiencing chronic failures and poor performance well before the building turns 50.

While a remodeling project is already a complex, large-scale project for any type of building, the degradation of pipes cannot and should not be ignored. Functioning pipes make the difference between whether an environment is habitable or not.

Once the removal of plumbing fixtures reveals failing pipes, or, ideally, before a renovation project commences, the director of facilities should research different types of pipe repair and rehabilitation solutions. Diligent research is necessary to ensure that the least disruptive, most cost-effective repair method is being chosen for the project. It is important to select a company with decades of experience, a wide range of innovative technologies in its toolbox, as well as critical problem solving and the ability to think outside the box. Some facility directors may think that a traditional pipe repair performed by a local plumbing company is the best solution for failing pipes, but traditional repipes are not ideal during a renovation. For example, examine a project completed by TDT Plumbing, a full-service plumbing contractor that specializes in custom-designed solutions to extend piping’s useful life.

Northbrook Middle School, located in Houston, Texas, underwent a renovation one summer. This renovation project was comprised of all types of upgrades, which included replacing the plumbing fixtures, such as water fountains, sinks, urinals and toilets. In the middle of the project, while these fixtures were being removed, the galvanized steel potable pipes were exposed. After an examination, the pipes were clearly in very poor condition. They had problems, such as pinhole leaks, corrosion buildup, low water pressure and rusty water, which inevitably occur to pipe systems in all types of buildings. Although common, these are significant failures that should be fixed immediately when revealed.

The general contractor knew that it would be counter-productive or, in some cases, not even possible to install brand new fixtures to these deteriorating pipes. In order to replace the bad pipes, bathroom tile walls would have to be ripped out and replaced, which would add weeks onto the project timeline, not to mention a severe increase in costs. In addition, pipes that are located in the ceilings are surrounded by electrical conduit lines and other wires, and make pipes extremely difficult to access for replacement.

So, the general contractor had a dilemma. With only a month left of summer and a limited budget, could the team attempt to rip out all of the horizontal and vertical potable pipes in this two-story school, replace the pipes and re-build the wing’s walls and ceilings? The general contractor feared it would not be feasible, so after researching better solutions, TDT Plumbing was hired.

TDT Plumbing, as one of the largest and most experienced in-place pipe restoration companies in the central U.S., had the ideal solution the general contractor was looking for: the ePIPE epoxy coating technology. This patented restoration process for pressurized pipe systems uses existing access points to push clean, compressed air throughout the pipes to first clean them and remove the corrosion buildup, then to apply an epoxy coating throughout the interior of the pipes. This epoxy coating is thin, yet extraordinarily strong, bringing the pipes to a better-than-new state and protecting the pipes from pinhole leaks, corrosion, rusty water and other common failures.

This revolutionary epoxy coating process (called pipe lining or relining) was performed on all of the potable water pipes for the wing, which range from ½ inch to 1½ inches in diameter, including all water pipes for the bathrooms, drinking fountains and janitors’ closets. The project was completed in three weeks, keeping the school’s renovation project on schedule and on budget.

Miraculously, no destruction is necessary for the patented ePIPE epoxy coating process. TDT Plumbing’s crew cleaned and relined the potable pipes while preserving the tile bathrooms, the hard plaster ceilings, the classrooms and the hallways, thus eliminating expensive and time-consuming repairs. TDT Plumbing’s non-invasive approach allowed the crew to work simultaneously with other contractors doing other projects, such as electrical, windows and painting.

If the general contractor had not chosen TDT Plumbing to restore the failing potable pipe system using the ePIPE technology, a traditional pipe replacement (also called a repipe) would have ensued. This conventional repair method is extremely destructive, disruptive, expensive and time-consuming. First, the walls and ceilings throughout the school’s wing that housed the pipes would be ripped open, including ceilings in classrooms and tile walls in bathrooms. The failing pipes would be ripped out and sent to a landfill, along with the other torn out building materials. New pipes would be purchased, installed and tested. Then the hard plaster ceilings would be replaced, a contractor would be brought in to restore the dry wall, bathrooms would be re-tiled and other walls would be re-painted. Replacing an entire pipe system, especially a pipe system in a school toward the end of summer, is a very tedious and risky task, with the disadvantages far outweighing the advantages.

The general contractor and the middle school could not have been more pleased with TDT Plumbing’s work. Thanks to TDT Plumbing, the school’s wing was ready for the new school year.

When planning a renovation project in the future, it would be wise to assess the building’s pipe systems beforehand. Plan to restore any aged or failing pipes with a non-destructive pipe lining technology, preventing any scheduling or budget struggles, as well as preventing headaches from future pipe catastrophes. 

Amanda Strouse is a marketing contractor for TDT Plumbing, a full-service, turnkey piping solutions contractor, servicing the U.S. For additional information on the ePIPE process, contact Vic Caso, director of Marketing at TDT Plumbing, at vcaso@tdtplumbing.com, 800-303-1404, or www.tdtplumbing.com.

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