New England Pipe Restoration Focuses on CIPP

Cleaning industry veteran builds successful specialty shop around CIPP work.
New England Pipe Restoration Focuses on CIPP
Frank Machonis (left) and Matt Leger of New England Pipe Restoration watch the Gvision monitor (EPL Solutions) during a pre-lining inspection.

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In 1990, Tessier started American Rooter in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, a pipe cleaning company with a varied list of services. He sold the company in 2008, and after a brief stint working for another firm, Tessier realized he wanted to go back out on his own and focus entirely on relining.

In a brief three years, New England Pipe Restoration has become the go-to contractor for commercial and residential CIPP work in its service area.   
As specialists, Tessier and his crew are typically booked up to six weeks in advance.

“Since we entered the marketplace, we have been doing more lining than our competitors. We are building on our reputation and have worked on some of the most significant projects in Massachusetts and neighboring states,” Tessier says.
Relining is particularly popular in large cities such as Boston where sewer laterals often run under sidewalks and roads, making it very difficult to dig and replace lines.

“There is a lot of concrete,” he says.

Tessier says his team typically works with cast iron and clay pipe, which are both candidates for CIPP. Although residential makes up most of NEPR’s work, commercial and health care projects are gaining momentum. Residential lines can run from 20 to 60 feet, but commercial projects are another situation entirely and can often take 10 times longer than residential jobs.

“Commercial work is looked at as a dollars-and-cents decision, while residential work is a more emotional conclusion for the homeowner,” Tessier says. “A residential job might run $6,000 to $7,000. A commercial project can total much higher — we have an upcoming project that will be $65,000. We recently had a major job that ran $45,500, but in the long run we saved the client $200,000.”

Tessier points out that although lining is widely accepted and fairly well-understood, traditional solutions are still recommended in some instances, typically at jobs with few obstacles such as driveways, walkways, trees or roads. If a customer is on a large property and digging isn’t a problem, customers can save a lot of money. However, some customers refuse to dig up their pristine lawns.

“For a situation where a customer prefers an open dig, I will recommend an excavator for the job if I know and trust that operator. Otherwise I will suggest (the homeowner) call the local jurisdiction to get a list of contractors to do the job.”          

Menu specials    

As a specialty firm focused on pipe rehabilitation, NEPR lines sewer laterals, roof drains, sewer vents and restaurant grease lines as well as commercial air conditioner chiller lines. Additionally, the company lines steam condensate pipes, which provide heat in many university and commercial buildings.

When lining chiller lines, NEPR is often in commercial buildings with aging pipes. Those pipes can develop leaks and exhibit a heavy oxidation scale buildup, which narrows the line. When the scale buildup breaks down it can block the pump strainer and cause the pump’s electrical system to overheat, which triggers electrical breakers to shut off.

Tessier says his team continues to perfect the process of lining steam condensate lines — an important specialty for customers. He says that although lining works for condensate lines, NEPR cannot line steam supply lines because they expand, and the liner does not. The temperature for supply lines is also too high, whereas temperatures in condensate lines are much cooler.

One of the company’s chiller line rehabilitation jobs saved a major hospital $200,000 by avoiding conventional replacement. NEPR had to work with a 200-lineal-foot 8-inch line that ran 80 feet horizontally and 120 feet vertically. The building had been totally renovated except for the 8-inch chiller line, which would have been costly to replace conventionally. NEPR had already lined some of the hospital’s sewer lines in an earlier project.

“They realized the chiller line had a very heavy scale buildup when they attempted to put the air conditioning system online. The scale started to break up, causing the strainer for the system to block up. They then contacted NEPR, and we met with their engineers to discuss the possibility of lining their chiller line.

“We explained our process and gave them a product sheet that we would use for the chiller line. We estimated it would take five to six days to complete the work. The most difficult part of the lining operation is the descaling of the 8-inch pipe. Our Picote cutter was very effective in the descaling, which took three and a half days. The lining took two and a half days. To replace the line conventionally, it would have taken an estimated three to four weeks and cost them more than $200,000 — much more than our proposed cost.”

In June 2015, another project at a large university presented different challenges. A rotted-out cast iron sewer pipe was failing, and a brand-new floor would have to be dug up if the pipe couldn’t be rehabilitated. The mainline also had a large number of branch lines tied in at various points, and all would have to
be reinstated.

“For us to reinstate those connecting lines, we needed two types of reinstating cutters,” Tessier says. “We used our Picote reinstator and a second one specially built for our use. The university did not want the disruption of jackhammers, and there was the matter of the new flooring. Relining was the solution for this difficult job.”

Connecting

Maintaining a good relationship with large commercial clients is not much different than working with an individual client, Tessier says.

“My business practice is to be up-front and honest with the client, and to keep them well-informed on what’s going on and what to expect during our lining operations,” he says. “It’s very important for clients to feel comfortable that NEPR is a well-trained crew. We want them to feel at ease that we will solve their problem.”

Part of putting customers at ease is having skilled and courteous professionals on staff, but those people aren’t always easy to find.

“We want to make sure any candidate understands that we do not bring in outside help for our lining process, and I need an employee to understand that it’s not a normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. work period,” Tessier says.

“Sometimes a technician will start work at 6 a.m. and stay on the job until a project is at a stage where they can step away, which means it could be a 12-hour day. Our technicians need to know that some of our jobs will require them to stay away from home and sleep in a hotel for four to five days at a time, that they will not return home at the end of each day. Otherwise, I cannot hire that person.

“I want a technician who has some basic plumbing knowledge with drainage systems. I have found that auto mechanics are great candidates for this type of work. Auto mechanics have a sense of how things work and for the most part can easily understand our lining process.”

Tessier says his small crew of four must coordinate personal plans when leaving for a job, as the job must be a priority.

“I enjoy a good working relationship with the crew,” he says. “I feel it is very positive. Although I’m not with them on all the jobs, I’m there for a good part of the work. My style is not to act as an owner or boss. We all work together and all opinions count.”

He says NEPR works as a subcontractor for some companies, which is a positive for them and the customer.

“We do around $250,000 yearly with contractors that don’t offer lining,” he says.

Experience pays

After 25 years in the industry, Tessier says his experience troubleshooting drainage systems has paved the way for NEPR.

“Frequently on commercial jobs we need to figure out how to build a bypass for the sewer system so the client can continue to operate,” he says. “When a bypass system is needed to line a commercial property, no one system can do all that is required. The job of NEPR is to scope out the work that is needed and then figure out how to build a bypass system so the client can continue to function.”

It’s that type of experience that separates NEPR from the competition. Dedication to the craft and to customers has also played a big role.

“Even though we are doing work that is all scheduled, my phone is always on and anyone can get to me 24/7,” Tessier says. “I think that is very important as I always enjoy working with people, whether on the phone or in person. I want people to feel comfortable and to realize I know the lining business very well. All of my work is guaranteed, and if there is ever an issue that we caused, we will take care of it at no charge.”


Equipped for anything

New England Pipe Restoration of Lunenburg, Massachusetts, provides specialized pipe rehabilitation services across a broad service area, and the crew always has to be properly equipped for the task at hand.

NEPR hits the road with a 2012 Ford F-350 utility box van that carries all the tools needed for lining work. Pre- and post-inspection calls for cameras, and the crew has three at their disposal: a VeriSite Pro camera from Envirosight, a RIDGID SeeSnake Plus Color Self-Leveling camera with a 200-foot reel, and a Gvision Series 2000 from EPL Solutions Inc.

Their Perma-Liner lateral lining system is pulled behind the box van in a fully equipped trailer. Tessier says they use Perma-Liner equipment and materials in about 90 percent of their sewer lining projects.

NEPR also uses a 2012 Harben jetter (4,000 psi/16 gpm) mounted in a heated, enclosed trailer, along with various nozzles and cutting heads. RIDGID Navi-Track and General Pipe Cleaners Gen-Eye locators help pinpoint underground pipes and
other utilities.



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