When Things Go Wrong on a Lining Job

Eliminate the guesswork in CIPP by utilizing proper planning and resources before going into your next relining job.
When Things Go Wrong on a Lining Job

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John Heisler is the owner of Quik-Lining Systems Inc. He has 20 years of experience in the CIPP lining business and over 40 years in the underground construction industry. During that time, Heisler has been involved with over 500,000 linear feet of pipe installed ranging from 2 to 84 inches in diameter.

As a guest presenter at WWETT 2016, Heisler will discuss how to plan for the inevitable in his educational session, When Things Go Wrong on a Lining Job, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18 in rooms 234-236. His discussion will identify the most common challenges on the job site and provide field-proven solutions to help save the day. 

Q: John, how did you get started in the industry?  
A: My wife and I closed our plumbing and HVAC business in South Dakota and decided to move to a warmer climate, choosing Phoenix as our location. 

I wasn’t old enough nor had the money to retire, so I looked for a job. Insituform Technologies was looking for a technical rep in the Arizona/Nevada area to acquire new business, set up a local crew after developing a backlog of work, and manage the territory.

Promotions and transfers took me to Los Angeles, and recruitment by other contractors took me to building a new CIPP lining contractor from scratch, thus giving me experience in every aspect of the business from the chemistry of resin mixing to field installation, to general management.

Q: You’ve spent a lot of time out in the field. What are some typical problems many contractors come across on a lining job?
A: Typical problems that develop in the field usually revolve around not planning out the work completely and trying to “wing it” during an installation in the field. Usually failure accompanies poor planning.

Q: What is the craziest thing you’ve seen or story that you’ve heard?
A: When installing a 24-inch-diameter CIPP line in Tempe, Arizona, we missed a lateral tie-in that went to a lower-level building housing an insurance company when bypass pumping around our lining job. We flooded the lower level of the building. After profuse apologies and cleaning up the mess, we flooded the same basement the next day. The insurance company was now livid, wanting everything replaced this time, not just cleaned. My project manager decided to tell them that after 30 days the effects of the raw sewage would be neutralized. Obviously, that didn’t fly, but I chuckle thinking about the conversation between my PM and the building owner and the rebuff of the proposal and how absurd it sounded.

Q: There really is no limit to the multitude of things that can go wrong, is there? 
A: There are many things that can go wrong and the blame can be spread from top to bottom. I’ve watched apartment houses emptied due to styrene odor to hazmat getting called to a storage site due to resin catalyzing in a storage yard. The wrong segment of liner being lined to lateral reinstatements not being opened, causing backup in a building where the tie-in wasn’t opened. Liners collapsed and cured in place that had to be dug up to laterals protruding into the sewer main. Mixed resin hardening before getting installed to mixed resin that never cured. The list goes on and on.

Q: How important is planning and the ability to adjust on the fly? 
A: Planning is the key to minimizing risk and expecting a good outcome. If you plan your work, you will also plan for any contingencies that may crop up during the execution. If you plan that the liner or calibration tube may puncture and provide items to solve that problem, then if that occurs, you can move on to the contingency plan.

If you utilize checklists before leaving for the job site — and continue to use them at the site — you will have a greater chance of not forgetting important steps that could derail your job. Practice of the process eliminates the uncertainty and doubt caused by tackling something new to you. If more would take the time to practice before showing up on the job, we could eliminate all failures.

Q: You talk about the “art of lining” versus the “science of lining.” Can you explain the difference? 
A: The science of lining is pretty straightforward. Follow these steps, mix the chemicals according to the book, and execute the work as described in the ASTMs that apply to this process, and you’ve conquered the science of the lining.

The art of lining involves dealing with the contingencies or problems that turn up. What to do when the compressor dies, heater breaks down, liner quits moving in the pipe during inversion, bypass pumping quits, line isn’t easily cleaned in preparation of lining, or a reinstatement cutter fails, is where the “art” part comes into play. Specifically how you deal with those issues in a timely manner to get the liner in the ground without waste of resources or time.

Q: How does one become a CIPP artist? And how important is it for the licensed contractor to understand the science behind the application? 
A: The simple answer of how to become an artist at CIPP lining is failure. I’ve experienced all of the problems I've mentioned and more. By sharing those failures and my plans to never repeat those mistakes again with others, I can perhaps educate others to not repeat my mistakes.

I offer a certification training program for installers. The certification training gets them educated in all the aspects of CIPP lining including all of the ASTMs, life expectancy studies, flow studies, approvals, as well as the steps involved in the lining process. We cover the science in those classes and share a few of the most common “art” issues.

If a homeowner or inspector asks an installer how much the flow will be impacted with his liner, he should know. He should know how long the liner should last and whether it’s been tested independently. He or she should be familiar with the material safety sheets in the event of a spill and whom to call. My weekly blogs address the “art” side of the lining process by sharing particular problems and solutions. As we tend to forget, I usually address one topic each week hoping that the information hits home. 

Q: If I’m a technician, how will attending this session make me and my team better?
A: If you are a technician, information can make you safe, productive and valuable. By safe, you will know what to do if you have equipment or material failure. Your productivity will increase because you won’t have to go to the boss and say, "the liner wouldn’t go in the ground because ..." pick an excuse. Fewer failures means more production.

Finally, valuable. If you know more than anyone else about what you’re doing, you become more valuable and harder to replace. As a technician, you get in demand. Your co-workers come to you for advice. Your boss knows that every job you do will turn out well, and may reward you with higher pay. Others will know of your reputation of being able to get liners done and offer you advancements that the average installer never gets.


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