Curing Innovation Boosts Production for a Pipe Lining Venture

A pipe lining newcomer completes four lateral lining jobs in one day with a new product that allows liners to cure unattended

Curing Innovation Boosts Production for a Pipe Lining Venture

Johan Lindholm teaches Quality Sewer & Drain Cleaning owner Russell Joe and his employee Brian Dacey how to attach the liner to the nozzle of the Sactool inversion drum.

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Lining one or two sewer laterals in a day would be considered great production by anyone’s standards in the trenchless pipe rehab industry. Doing four lining projects in one day — performed by a company that’s never even lined a pipe before, no less — sounds almost impossible.

But that’s exactly what Russell “Russ” Joe, the owner of Quality Sewer & Drain Cleaning in Danvers, Massachusetts, accomplished last July in Boston. With a strong assist from Ken Beyer, owner of Clog Squad in Hamilton, Michigan, Joe and his employee, Brian Dacey, lined approximately 225 feet of failing clay and cast iron sewer laterals at four different homes.

The total time to do all four linings was about eight hours, including travel time between job sites. Gross revenue for the projects was around $35,000.

“In just one day, we basically made back the money I invested in the lining equipment,” says Joe, who established his company in 2016 and works primarily on the north side of metropolitan Boston. “My philosophy is that scared money doesn’t make money,” he adds, noting that taking calculated risks on new technology is essential to growth.

And for any doubters, Joe streamed parts of all four jobs live on Instagram. He estimates that thousands of contractors watched it live; eventually, the videos received more than 15,000 views on Instagram and another 3,000 views on Facebook.

“It was a pretty big to-do to shoot four liners in one day, especially on our first go-around,” Joe says. “I thought it was pretty amazing. It shows what can be done if you’re willing to learn.”

A curing innovation

Initially, no one intended to line four pipes in one day. But the more Beyer thought about it, the more he thought it might be possible. The reason for his optimism was a new device he’d developed called a curing cap, which essentially allows contractors to leave job sites and let liners cure unattended.

“I was headed out to Boston for a week to train Russ,” says Beyer, whose company also sells drain cleaning equipment and trenchless pipe rehab systems. He also runs a Clog Squad Academy for pipe lining training. “He had five lining jobs already lined up fairly close to each other, and I had just come up with the curing cap, so it seemed like doing four of those jobs in one day just might be doable.”

Joe admits he was a bit skeptical at first. “I definitely was a little nervous, too,” he says. “I didn’t think there was any way we could do four in one day. But we banged them out.”

It helped that the jobs were close together and that any required excavation was done the day before. But the real key to success was the curing cap technology, Beyer says.

“As soon as the ‘shot’ is completed, the cap goes on where the pipe terminates,” he explains. “Then we just put hot water into the cal tube (a bladder that keeps the liner tight against the walls of the host pipe) and hook up an air compressor to regulate the pressure and be sure it doesn’t drop. That frees you up to leave and go on to the next job and the next job.”

Without the cap, the liner would have to remain hooked up to the inverter, with hot water circulating through the inverter into the liner, which would require continuous monitoring. In addition, doing multiple jobs in one day would require a water heater, an inverter, an air compressor and other items on each job site. That would make doing multiple jobs a day an expensive proposition, he says.

Dynamic duo

To line the pipes, Joe used a Sactools inversion drum, which Beyer helped develop for the U.S. market in conjunction with Sacpro AB, a Swedish company that makes pipe lining systems. He used liners made by Sacpro (Clog Squad is the U.S. distributor for Sacpro) and MaxLiner USA.

The crew also used resins made by Trelleborg Pipe Seals. The resins can be heat-cured in about 1 1/2 hours by either hot air or hot water. But they can stay pliable for up to 12 hours before heat is applied. “That takes away that time bomb ticking on you,” Beyer says.

Joe and Dacey did the work, supervised by Beyer and Johan Lindholm, the owner of Scandinavian Relining in Finland. Lindholm does pipe lining training for the academy.

“We had to think out of the box to do four in one day,” Beyer says. “We also had to get past the mental hurdle, sort of like breaking the four-minute-mile barrier.

“We were there just to instruct and provide guidance. Russ and Brian did all the work. For them to do that many linings on their first time doing it was pretty unbelievable. Russ is amazing.”

“It was hands-on training, not just us standing by and watching,” Joe adds. “We couldn’t possibly have done this without Ken and Johan. They’re a huge inspiration to us and awesome mentors.”

Full day’s work

The four projects were similar in scope, with each one requiring at least one excavation pit. All the laterals suffered from cracks and some had root intrusions. But all were structurally sound and good candidates for lining, Beyer says.

The first shot started at about 8:25 a.m. on July 29, a 93 degree F day in Boston. It involved lining about 70 feet of 6-inch-diameter clay pipe, Beyer says. Because the home had no basement or clean-out, a pit had been dug down to the pipe, several feet away from the house. Joe shot a MaxLiner liner from that pit out to the mainline. The total time for job one was about two hours.

After a 15-minute drive, work began on the second job — a 37-foot-long stretch of 4-inch clay and cast iron pipe that Joe lined with a Target liner. Like the first job, there was no basement or clean-out available, so he had to dig a pit in the yard. He shot the liner from there to an entry in the home’s slab foundation. The job was finished by 11:45 a.m., Beyers says.

The third job was another 15-minute drive away and centered on a 73-foot-long section of 4-inch cast iron line that transitioned to a 6-inch clay pipe. This time a clean-out was available in the home’s basement, so the crew shot a Target liner from inside the home’s basement. That job ended around 1:45 p.m., he says.

The last job was about 15 minutes away. For this project, Joe used a 45-foot-long Target liner to rehab a 6-inch clay pipe that transitioned down to a 4-inch cast iron pipe. The shot started at about 2 p.m. and ended at about 3 p.m. The crew used a clean-out in the home’s basement to shoot the liner from inside the house, Beyer says.

The last step involved going back to each job site and inspecting the liners, which they finished at exactly 4:58 p.m., Beyer says. “We wanted to finish by 5 p.m., and we just made it.”

All about the process

The process at all four jobs was similar: inspect the pipe with a camera system made by CustomEyes Cameras, mill them out with a Clog Dog milling machine manufactured by Clog Squad, jet the line with a Soldier trailer-mounted water jetter (3,000 psi at 12 gpm) built by Spartan Tool, reinspect the line, take measurements with the camera, build and wet-out the liners, and shoot the liners.

“Before shooting the liners, we also tested all the equipment to make sure everything was 100% operational,” Joe says. “It all went pretty smoothly. There were a few hiccups here and there, but that’s to be expected with lining pipes.”

The hardest part was following all the instructions and adhering to exactly the same process every time, Joe says.

“If you deviate from the process and try to cut corners, you only create problems for yourself,” he says. “Patience is a virtue when it comes to pipe lining.”

Beyer’s takeaway from the day is: Don’t let conventional beliefs limit expectations. “Don’t box yourself in by thinking you can only do one liner a day,” he says.

For anyone thinking about getting into pipe lining, Joe suggests going into it 100% committed. It’s a big capital cost upfront, but the payback is quick, he points out.

“We’ve shot 1,028 feet of liners since then. We now feel very comfortable with the process and love doing it. Sure, things can go wrong. … But it works if you stick to the method, be patient and don’t cut corners.”


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