Trenchless Pipe Coating  

Since sewer and drain systems are located underground, it has been a fact of life that the only way to fix them is by digging up the line and then making a repair or replacement. However, one of the things that I love about plumbing is the constant advancements in technology within our field. Trenchless sewer and drain options are becoming more and more popular, and while they aren’t always the best solution, they can save client’s thousands in household repairs related to opening trenches. 

What Is Pipe Coating

Picote Pipe Coating is a specialized adhesive that is designed specifically for drain and sewer lines. This coating settles on the interior walls of drain and sewer lines, in return allowing them to be refinished rather than replaced. This specialized coating will withstand temperatures as low as negative 40 degrees and as high as 248 degrees Fahrenheit; so if hell ever freezes over in Phoenix, then we’re covered… and, more likely, if the sun ever really tries to inflame us, well then we’re covered there too! 

trenchless sewer repair phoenix plumber

“Trenchless” Doesn’t Always Mean Dig-less

The word “trenchless” is sometimes misleading, sometimes causing people to assume that digging will not ever be a possibility. Well, I am sorry to say that is not always the case. To repair your sewer line with a trenchless option like pipe coating, it will require ground level cleanouts to your sewer or drain line. Many homes in the Phoenix area with sewer and drain issues oftentimes don’t have cleanouts since they weren’t a code requirement until the ’80s. If you do not have cleanouts or ground-level access, then excavation may have to be a part of the process. Typically, the excavation is able to be done outside for your sewer lines. However, on an interior drain line, there are occasions when a hole in the floor has to be created in order to access the line, such as an island sink drain. Usually, if the line is inside without a cleanout, then the best attempts are made when trying to install one in the wall rather than opening the floor. An access hole may need to be excavated in order to make repairs to the line, as well as if there is a section that cannot be repaired with a trenchless option.

What Types of Pipes Can Be Coated? 

The Picote Coating has been proven to coat and adhere to many types of drain lines including: ABS, PVC, clay, concrete and most importantly cast iron. I say “most important” because in the Phoenix area, cast iron pipes are the most common pipe that needs to be replaced under foundations due to corrosion, buildup of rust and deterioration of the pipe.   

 

What Is the Process to Coat a Sewer Pipe?  

If your sewer line needs to be coated, also known as refinished, then know that the process is a complex one which requires specialized equipment and training. In order for the warranty to be valid for the coating, the technician on site must have been certified through Picote and passed an extensive 2-day training.

  • Camera Inspection of the Drain Line 

    • This first step is to evaluate the initial problems with the line and confirm that it is a good candidate for the coating process. This step is to see if there are any holes or belly’s in the pipe that could make it a candidate for a replacement rather than a trenchless option like coating.  
  • Jetting the Sewer Line  

    • This process of jetting the lines cleans off any grease buildup; this is not always a necessary step and may be skipped if the initial sewer inspection with the camera reveals that there isn’t any grease or sludge buildup on the interior walls of the pipe.  
  • Camera Inspection of the Drain Line

    • Running the camera equipment again allows us to get a better visual image of the line and the condition of the pipe after all of the grease and sludge buildup has been removed. This is the second opportunity to see if there are any holes or belly’s in the pipe that could make the drain line a candidate for replacement instead of a trenchless option like coating.  
  • Milling the Line

    • This is a process that is meant to descale and remove rust from the inside of the pipe while smoothing out any burs and removing any other debris. This process is done with specialized equipment that has chains on the end that turn at incredibly high speeds leaving the pipe with a surface that is clean and will allow the resin to adhere to the pipe.  
  • Jetting the Sewer Line

    • To clear out all debris and rust removed from the milling process.  
  • Camera Inspection of the Drain Line

    • Yes, I know, it’s redundant, but an important part of the process. We inspect the drain line again to make sure that it’s clean and there are no defects in the line, like holes or missing pieces in the pipe, so that it is perfectly prepared for the resin to stick.
  • First Resin Coating

    • A special resin coating is mixed and applied with specialized pumps and equipment that has rotating brushes while it applies the resin to the interior of the drain line.  This first resin coating is in either white or gray which allows us to determine good coverage on continued applications of the coating. The first coating of the resin is then given time to cure which, the time is based on the size of pipe and the temperature of the ground.  The time varies greatly depending on the conditions of weather and pipe size.  
  • Camera Inspection of the Drain Line

    • The camera gets a workout on these trenchless projects.  During this process we inspect the first coating as well as record the results of the coating for the warranty through the manufacturer. 
  • Second Resin Coating

    • This second coating is done in the opposite color as the first coating to make sure no spots are missed. It is like painting a white wall– you can miss spots and you’ll regret it later since you can’t see with certainty that you didn’t miss anything. This is especially important since seeing the process of coating the pipe with every layer is incredibly difficult being that it isn’t a wall– it’s the inside of a pipe underground. This second layer is then allowed time to cure.  
  • Camera Inspection of the Drain Line

    • I know I sound like a broken record, which really reminds me of being a mom (parents you know what I mean), but at this point we are going to thoroughly inspect the second coating and record the process which ensures a warranty through the manufacturer. Depending on the pipe diameter this could be the last coat– larger diameter pipes like 3” and 4” pipe require more applications of the coating. When we’ve made it this far, we are checking for the perfection of the second coat to ensure, no matter what size the diameter of the drain line is, that it is properly coated and doesn’t require another layer of the resin– the process may have to be repeated.  

 

When Is a Coating a Good Option?  

Trenchless options are incredible in a lot of situations, but that doesn’t mean they’re always the perfect solution. While it is hard to tell a client that a trench is going to have to be their best option, we have a promise around here that we “Do it right or not at all”. That being said, there are a few instances where replacing the line rather than coating and refurbishing are the best option, and we’ll be sure to let you know. We want you to have your financial investment towards a solution for your stoppages and plumbing issues for decades to come, so we won’t steer you in the wrong direction just to make a buck and leave you stuck with your plumbing issue. Trenchless options, no matter what they are, will NOT FIX A BELLY IN THE LINE. Trenchless equipment is all designed to follow the path and grade of the existing sewer line; this means, if the sewer line has a belly in it or is out of grade, then a trenchless option will not fix that and the section of pipe will need to be replaced. 

 

What Is the Warranty?  

The manufacturer for the coating of your pipe comes with a limited 10 year warranty which has to be validated by the technician(s) on site and submitted to the manufacturer with the appropriate video recordings: this warranty is only valid if the video inspections are sent and the technician in charge of the project is certified to do the work.

 Is Trenchless the Right Choice for You?  

The best way to decide if a trenchless is right for you is by having a consultation from one of our qualified and certified team members. We will assess your symptoms, diagnose the cause and give you the best options for a permanent solution, even if the answer is not a trenchless option

Services in Phoenix & Beyond

When you’ve found yourself in need of plumbing services in the Phoenix, Glendale, Scottsdale, or Chandler area, you can trust Robins Plumbing to provide you with prompt and expert care, contact our team today! In addition to our toilet services, we also offer a variety of residential and commercial plumbing services, including: drain cleaning, water heater repair and replacement, sewer camera inspection and locating, backflow prevention, commercial and residential jetting, water treatments, and more. Visit our reviews online to see what others have to say about our local plumbing company!