Contractor Finds Great Value in Pipe-Coating System

Three years ago Bizzy Bee Plumbing ventured into pipe coating for the first time and immediately realized the scope of the technology’s benefits

Contractor Finds Great Value in Pipe-Coating System

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The first time Robert Schwachenwald used the Picote Solutions Mini pipe coating system, he couldn’t have asked for a better project to illustrate the technology’s value. The problem was a leaking 1 1/2-inch-diameter water line that supplied a fountain at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“They knew there was a leak because the fountain pool wouldn’t stay full,” says Schwachenwald, owner of Bizzy Bee Plumbing. “But no one could figure out where the leak was coming from.”

Furthermore, the water line ran under a beautiful concrete plaza. Determining the location of the leak through conventional measures would’ve required destroying and then replacing a lot of concrete.

A pipe inspection with a SeeSnake microReel camera revealed pinhole leaks, a problem well-suited for a pipe coating solution. A variable-speed pumping system that attaches to a Picote Mini Miller delivers a two-part epoxy coating through a hose outfitted with two nylon brushes, which evenly distribute the epoxy. Technicians also tape a camera head near the end of the hose so they can monitor the coating process and make adjustments as necessary.

The Picote Mini (which costs about $6,000) is designed for pipes up to 2 inches in diameter and a Maxi unit (roughly $10,000) coats pipe from 2 to 10 inches in diameter. The epoxy is cured by blowing warm air into the pipe, which takes about 1 1/2 hours, Schwachenwald says.

First technicians cleaned the pipe with a Mini Miller equipped with a sanding attachment.

“It’s like painting a wall in your home — 90% of the job is proper prep work,” says Schwachenwald.

Most jobs require two to four coats of epoxy.

“One of the great things about the Picote system is that the epoxy comes in different colors, like white and gray. That helps the technicians see if they’ve missed spots,” Schwachenwald says.

The fountain job took about four days to complete because the roughly 20-foot-long section of pipe included many tight fittings and turns.

“Plus we were learning as we went along,” Schwachenwald says. “It was pretty tense, but it also was a good learning experience and we gained new skills from doing it.”

After letting the coating sit for 24 hours and pressure-testing the line, the job was completed.

“That was three years ago. And to this day, it’s still not leaking,” says Schwachenwald. “We solved a problem — as well as saved a lot of concrete.”

Read more about Bizzy Bee Plumbing in the May 2020 issue of Cleaner magazine.


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