Water pipes are a vital fixture in commercial and residential spaces. Without them, you won’t perform basic activities like bathing and washing to refresh your body. They’re also important in doing other chores related to cleanliness and hygiene, food preparation, and the like.
Having access to clean and safe water is a basic human need. While sources remain available, plumbing systems age, and pipes are subject to wear and tear over time. Pipe re-lining using epoxy resin and replacement are two of the most common restorative solutions for line problems.
However, safety issues questions have been raised about using epoxy on a pipe, mainly due to its chemical components. Find out if you have reasons to start worrying about your health and your water pipes, or not.
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How Is Epoxy Used In Water Pipes
As a moldable compound that becomes rigid after exposure to proper humidity and temperature conditions, plumbers often use epoxy resins for pipelining. A plumber’s putty, which is often used for repairing water leaks, is usually placed on the outer portion of the pipes, while an epoxy pipe lining is used to make the lines work like new.
Epoxy lining or coating is used in plumbing systems including sprinklers and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) piping solutions, and other construction and repair work. It offers numerous advantages such as being a cost-effective and less invasive alternative solution to pipe replacement. Pipe re-lining is also durable, with some contractors estimating that epoxy could last for 100 years.
What Is Epoxy
Epoxy is a compound composed of organic carbon mixed with other elements such as nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen, creating a covalent bond. In most cases, the term also refers to epoxy resin which is technically cured epoxy. Curing is a chemical process where a compound is mixed with additives and hardens as it’s exposed to heat and air.
Resin, which serves as a curing agent, is often made from several types of bisphenol— a mixture of acetone and phenol—and epichlorohydrin. The latter is derived from chlorinated propylene. Epoxy resin takes a soft, paste-like consistency which works great as a sealing and bonding agent for home improvement projects.
Is Epoxy Resin In Pipes Safe
Despite its versatility in resolving common plumbing issues, the use of epoxy resin in pipes has raised concern among environmentalists who claim that the compound may contain a harmful chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is considered a hormone-altering chemical and has been banned in baby products. Low-level exposures to BPA are said to be safe, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
But is it safe to use epoxy on a pipe?
Studies have been conducted to determine the levels of BPA that are dissolved and released in drinking water and determine whether this health concern is with or without basis.
Broad research done in partnership with the Czech Republic and the University of Helsinki has found that the BPA levels released were negligible and didn’t cause harm to humans when consumed.
Government agencies in the United States, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), allow some epoxy linings in pipe restoration. Using epoxy resin in pipe remediation may help prevent lead, zinc, and copper contamination in old and outdated plumbing systems.
The Benefits Of Using Epoxy
When used on standard metal pipes, epoxy resins form a durable lining that prevents corrosion and harmful chemicals from seeping into the water supply. Using epoxy lining can also minimize the impact of leaching. This common chemical process occurs when the water that passes through the pipes dissolves the chemicals and other compounds present in the lines.
An epoxy coating is an excellent alternative to pipe replacement not only because it’s cheaper but because it can reinforce the durability of your existing pipe systems and is effective in preventing further leaks.
The affected section must be free from contaminants to enjoy the full benefits of using an epoxy lining for water pipes. Expert plumbers must install because it requires proper application, including identification of appropriate curing procedures.
If not done correctly, there’s a slight possibility of delamination that’ll occur when the layers of resin and fabric lining could separate from each other. This often occurs when the epoxy used is too thin or the curing process isn’t done based on recommended standard procedures.
The Bottom Line
Pipe issues may cause health problems if not appropriately addressed. Traditional solutions call for pipe replacement, but an epoxy lining offers a great alternative to installing new pipes. Despite concerns over its health impact, epoxy is deemed safe by government agencies and organizations worldwide.
Besides being safe, an epoxy lining provides benefits, including a less-invasive process, cost-effectivity, and durability. It’s not surprising that contractors and homeowners alike prefer epoxy coating as a pipe replacement or repair technique.