With the possibility of more federal investment in infrastructure on the horizon, many municipal contractors are looking to increase their capabilities. American wastewater systems are rapidly degrading, so rehabilitation is one of the larger areas of growth. Depending on what type of work your business already offers, some rehabilitation methods may be easier to get into than others. For spot (point) repairs, the most popular options are CIPP spot liners (generally under four feet), mechanical point repair sleeves and grout. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses as a repair solution, and each one has variable costs in terms of initial capital and maintenance cost. Getting an idea of what different methods can cost may give you a starting point for choosing the best option for your business.
Option 1: Grout
Grout is one of the oldest, most time-tested options. There are two major types: chemical grout and cementitious grout. Chemical grout is used to fill voids around pipes. When injected into the soil surrounding the lines, resin grout can eliminate infiltration and provide support where bedding has been washed away. Cementitious grout has traditionally been used for infiltration abatement, but it is losing favor due to its rigidity. Cementitious grout cannot handle any shifting of the pipes or surrounding earth without cracking and crumbling. For both types of grout, the injection or application unit requires truck or trailer mounting. Chemical grout can also require expensive curing systems. Overall, a grouting system can easily cost over $200,000 to get started. And, depending on the type of grout you choose to offer, the cost of the grout material itself can quickly add up.
Option 2: CIPP Short Liner
Another option many cities are choosing is CIPP. There are many end-to-end CIPP installers, but CIPP short liners are gaining popularity as they provide the benefits of CIPP without the cost of relining stable pipe. Again, contractors must consider the necessary components for installation, which can include an installation packer, a refrigeration truck, bypass pumping equipment and a curing source, such as a boiler or UV light rig. Not every project requires all these pieces, but knowing what type of tools might be needed can be beneficial before starting to invest in a new sewer rehab method. Curing sources vary in cost. Ambient cure relies on the temperature of the surrounding ground and air, making it a more affordable option. Dry steam boilers average about $10,000. Short liner kits are also available from a variety of manufacturers and can easily run from $16,000 to $40,000, depending on the liner size and cure method. While the initial capital expense for CIPP can be high, liners themselves are not inexpensive either. The typical cost of raw supplies for spot liners runs between $600 and $800, but price can vary by cure method. And, as most CIPP liners are custom-made, the price only goes up from there. CIPP is a solid, reliable repair method, but it can require a substantial initial capital investment.
Option 3: Mechanical Point Repair
Mechanical point repair is a newer solution, but it’s steadily gaining users. This type of system uses an inflatable packer to lock a steel sleeve inside the pipe, pressing a rubber seal against the pipe wall and eliminating infiltration and other defects. The initial capital requirements vary for this repair method because they depend on what resources you already have at your disposal. If you already conduct pipeline inspections, the shift is easy. You need a packer for the pipe size or sizes you intend to support and the sleeves themselves in addition to a crawler system for installation. A packer with the necessary adapters and training will cost under $10,000. If you’re not already performing inspections, factoring in the inspection crawler can cause the investment cost to jump significantly. Crawler systems vary depending on the features and manufacturer but can run from $40,000 up to $100,000. Once the initial investment is made, however repair sleeves cost $500-600 depending on the diameter, making the ongoing cost much lower than other repair methods. Overall, mechanical point repair is a simple, effective method and often requires less spend than other options.
When choosing which method to invest in, consider the jobs and customers you already have. Which repair technology is going to be the most beneficial for them? While you may choose to go through with an initially expensive technology, if there is a large need, it will pay for itself. If, however, there isn’t a demand for any of these methods, and you’re not confident in your ability to recoup the initial costs quickly, a smaller investment is probably a better choice.
If you’ve decided that mechanical point repair is a service you’d like to add to your business, request an on-site demonstration of PRT’s top-of-industry Quick-Lock technology.