Through the Keyhole – Draining Problems for Facilities Managers

UKDN Waterflow

Article appeared in May edition of Premises and Facilities Management magazine

When drainage goes wrong, the results can render business premises unusable. Aside from the odours and flooding which can make buildings with blocked drains and leaks deeply unpleasant places to be, problems with drainage can also cause environmental health hazards. In the long term, leaking pipes can actually cause subsidence, which undermines the very structural integrity of a property.

The primary function of facilities management is to ensure that the building is safe, efficient and operational at all times. When there is evidence that drainage in a building is malfunctioning, facilities managers need to act quickly in order to get the building back in business and prevent further damage occurring.

Mitigating operational disruption to the business while repair work takes place is extremely important, so finding a drainage company who will do an excellent job, on time, within budget and with minimal disruption is essential.

Working with a highly professional drainage business, who will KPI their employees on measurements such as positive customer feedback and punctuality will be a priority. Ideally, the company will also have trained their operatives in the careful restoration of the curtelege of a building after repair work has taken place.

The disruption to a business can be further lessened, and costs significantly reduced if facilities managers work with a company that can fix drainage problems without even needing to excavate.

The science bit

No-dig technology is a specialism of UKDN-Waterflow, and take-up among our customers is growing rapidly. It’s not difficult to see why.  Analogous to the keyhole surgery now prevalent in modern UK medicine, it allows drainage engineers to carry out permanent and watertight localised repair of sewers and drains without having to excavate the area.

After cleaning the drain or sewer with a high pressure water jet in order to ensure it is not hidden by scale, debris or sludge, a CCTV camera is inserted into the pipe in order to pinpoint the broken section of drain.

Once the damaged area has been identified, they will then diagnose the most appropriate repair method.  While some times of damage will mean that excavation is inevitable, increasingly no-dig repairs can be recommended. The two most common types are ‘cured in place pipe’ (CIPP) lining repairs, either for larger lengths or the full length of the sewer or drain, or for more localised areas of damage, a ‘patch’ repair.

A CIPP lining is a repairing pipe in the form of a flexible felt tube impregnated with a resin, which is placed and inflated within the original damaged host pipe. This then produces a new pipe within the host pipe after the resin cures, meaning that the area is once more fully watertight.

When a pitch fibre pipe has collapsed or become otherwise deformed, it can be re-rounded by a special tool which is drawn through the pipe, restoring it to its original shape. Once the correct shape has been reinstated, a CIPP lining is then inserted and, using water pressure or air, applied to the inside of the old pipe, providing a permanent repair.

Where the affected area is more localised, a patch repair is often more appropriate. The patch, which is prepared on site to match the size of the specific area in question, consists of a glass fibre mat impregnated with resin which has a time delay catalyst.  The patch is then wrapped around an inflatable pipe packer which is used to transport the patch from above ground to the affected area in the drain.

Once a CCTV camera has been used to check that everything is properly aligned, the packer is positioned within the pipe in order to ensure that the patch adequately covers and repairs the broken section.

The packer is then inflated with air, which applies pressure against the patch on the pipe wall in order to bond it in place. In this way, the patch is held in position until the resin has cured and it is effectively glued against the wall. Only then is the packer deflated and removed, leaving the watertight patch in place over the damaged section. The pipe will now be back in full working order. These localised repairs save a considerable amount of money and are completed quickly without disruption to the residents.

Business Benefits

Working with a company who can offer no-dig techniques can also save organisations considerable amounts of money – the reduced labour and energy costs for no dig techniques means that a cost saving of up to 75 per cent is achievable. Similarly, because there is no need for invasive action the risk to assets is enormously reduced. On top of this, carbon savings of up to 90 per cent are achievable.

Sometimes, excavation is unavoidable, but a good drainage engineer will seek to minimise disruption for their customers, and will always explore all options before concluding that digging up the area to get to the pipe is inevitable. Undoubtedly, in an FM setting, a no-dig solution can tick all the boxes.