What is Epoxy Sewer Lining, Anyway?
FAQ’s with Bill Howe Plumbing’s Sewer Re-lining Manager, Eric Schaldach
Q: How long have you been with Bill Howe Plumbing?
Eric: I’ve been part of Bill Howe Plumbing for 3 years and I’ve headed the Bill Howe Sewer Lining division since 2013.
Q: Where did you receive your training in sewer lining?
Eric: My team and I have had extensive training with our manufacturer, Permaliner over the last three years. We routinely attend advanced training, as well as monthly technology training seminars in house. We truly provide the best product and methodologies for our customers.
Q: How did you get interested in lining?
Eric: I enjoy finding solution for large scale plumbing problems. With this application, we are able to deliver results to homeowners and business owners that will last “almost” a lifetime!
Q: What is epoxy sewer lining?
Eric: It’s the alternative to digging up sewer lines underneath slab foundations. Sometimes the lines are 20 feet down and digging those up can be expensive and intrusive. Lining is a great alternative.
Q: What is epoxy?
Eric: It’s a two-part epoxy. There is a base and catalyst, once mixed it activates the epoxy and begins curing.
Q: What is the most common reason customers need epoxy sewer lining?
Eric: Root intrusion
Q: Do you provide free estimates for this type of work?
Eric: There is a cost for the sewer camera inspection; however, if you go forward with the work, we’ll credit that cost to the lining. If you do not end up doing the liner, we still provide the customer with a copy of the dvd, or flashdrive, inspection of the line.
Q: Is there any reason why the sewer line cannot have the lining installed?
Eric: If it was collapsed and we couldn’t get our camera past the damaged portion. Then, we would have to recommend a dig up to replace the collapsed portion, or if there is no downstream access (like a manhole or a clean out). Often, we’ll install a cleanout in order to access the main line to line the affected sewer.
Q: Is it permanent? What’s the warranty on the job?
Eric: It is permanent and we guarantee it as long as the homeowner owns the home (the guarantee does not transfer). It’s life expectancy is 50 years.
Q: Does this mean I’ll never have to deal with another drain backing up again?
Eric: If a we have done a lining, but there is abuse, i.e., too much paper or something like paper towels and baby wipes in the drain, then that’s a different story. But, if the line backs up due to the liner or roots coming in, then we’ll take care of it. What the lining does not take care of are the 2” drain lines that feed into the mainline. So if the kitchen drain is backing up due to excess grease, that would have to be taken care of separately.
Q: How long does the entire process take?
Eric: It depends. The length of the run and how much cleaning is involved will vary. We have to completely clean the lines before we line it, and some lines need more cleaning than others. Best case scenario, 1 full day for cleaning and lining, going into the evening to test. Worst-case scenario, 2 complete days for particularly long runs or heavy build up for residences. Larger projects and commercial applications require additional time and are usually done in phases to keep the disruption to businesses at a minimal.
Q: How long does the homeowner or business have to wait until they can use their drains after the process has been completed?
Eric: Once the bladder is taken out, they can use the facilities. The curing time is between 4 and 6 hours on an average run.
Q: Is the process expensive?
Eric: It can cost anywhere up to $150 a foot depending on the existing conditions. It’s probably a quarter of the cost to dig up the street which includes permitting, traffic control, equipment rental, etc. The savings in intrusive repair are often worth it.
Q: Why do you offer sewer lining but not water lining?
Eric: Water lines cannot be visually inspected with a camera. We need to be able to verify and guarantee the work after the process is done.We will not do work we cannot guarantee for the benefit of our customers. Plus, the epoxy takes away the diameter of the pipe, and the water runs through the line creating pressure which can break down the lining.
Q: Do you have to have access to the house or commercial building to do it?
Eric: Sometimes. If we are jetting, we’ll need to block off the toilets or we may need access through the toilet closet flange.
Q: Can you line any drain line?
Eric: 3 inches to 12 inches. Anything larger or smaller we can’t; the smaller diameter, the harder it is to extract the bladder and pull through at the end.
Q: What type of pipe does this work with, can you line clay pipes?
Eric: Yes. We can line clay, cast iron, ABS, and sometimes orangeburg (asbestos type of pipe) and PVC.
Q: Is there a minimum?
Eric: Yes. The minimum for a lining job is $1500, which covers 5-15 feet (for residential applications).