A pinhole in a copper pipe is only detected when someone notices water leaking. Damage is inevitable because a plumber must destroy finished walls to locate the pinhole.
It is often impossible to shut off the water to repair a pinhole since building residents must be given adequate notice. Because of this, it is common practice for a plumber to clamp the pipe until management can organize a water shutdown, followed by a pipe replacement.
Unfortunately, with time, another pinhole will likely occur. While metal is a strong material, it is susceptible to erosion from the particles in water.
There are two main solutions to this problem: replace the pipe or line it.
Pipe lining is the process of restoring the interior of a pipe to create a barrier between the pipe and water. It not only prevents pinhole leaks but protects the metal pipe from eroding – all at a fraction of the cost of pipe replacement.
Many older buildings with black iron HVAC risers leach approximately half a cup of metal per month into the closed loop water system. This metal eventually finds its way into pipe coils and will start to plug the elbows. When a coil is plugged, especially in more than one elbow, it restricts water flow, which diminishes the temperature of the coil.
When property managers receive complaints about lack of heat or air conditioning, their first reaction is often to call a plumber to flush the coil. However, flushing the coil only provides temporary relief. It will displace the metal particles but they will soon plug the coil back up again.
The best options are to clean the coil with a de-scaling solution, replace it completely or line the riser pipes. The latter restores the pipes and eliminates the likelihood of future pipe corrosion, which is the cause of plugged up coils. Most buildings combine a riser pipe restoration with a coil and drip pan retrofit to completely enhance the efficiency of the HVAC system and bring the temperature back to full capacity.
Kitchen stack maintenance
Ignoring kitchen stack maintenance is a common mistake as it just doesn’t seem as important as some other issues. However, the disasters that result from backed up drains can lead to thousands of dollars in legal battles.
Cooking grease can cause significant problems in drains, restricting the flow of water. When washed off cooking appliances and kitchenware, it is typically soft, black and smelly. However, with time, cooking grease turns into hard, white chunks equivalent to clay.
A yearly kitchen stack cleaning is a must for highrise buildings. Not only does it prevent the drainage system from clogging but it removes any new grease that has the potential to harden.
Those who want to take kitchen stack cleaning a step further should look into a cleanout installation project where cleanouts are installed every five floors to ensure properly cleaned vertical stacks. At this point, property managers should consider lining kitchen stack drains with a corrosion-free liner.
Gianpaul Callipo is CEO of Canada Pipe Lining Technologies. He can be reached at 905.482.2962.