When officials with the University of Houston were faced with the costly and time-consuming prospect of re-piping the water lines of their largest dormitory complex, they turned to a qualified CuraFlo franchise professional for answers. CuraFlo responded with a process that reinvigorated the eroded piping system, generated greater water flow and purity than ever before – and did so in less than half the time of conventional re-piping.
Located on the picturesque urban campus of the University of Houston in Houston, Texas, Moody Towers is the University’s largest complex of residence halls, accommodating more than 1,100 students. Constructed in 1972, the two 18-story buildings are joined by a main lobby, called The Commons. The majority of dormitory rooms house two occupants, and with the exception of a four-week winter break, each room is occupied by students throughout the year.
Recently, UH facilities officials concluded that Moody Towers could face a potentially serious water crisis in the foreseeable future. After decades of patching and spot repairs to the galvanized piping within the towers, they determined that these water lines had deteriorated to the point where additional repairs were no longer possible over a prolonged time frame.
Initially, they believed that a complete re-piping of both towers was the necessary next step. But according to Craig Brodd, UH Maintenance Supervisor, re-piping would take both towers off line for up to 14 months, thus making that option wholly unfeasible.
“We didn’t have a wide enough window of time to re-pipe, because we couldn’t close the buildings and displace the students,” he remembers.
Complicating matters was the design of the piping itself. As Brodd explains, much of it was inaccessible, meaning that walls, marble showers and other expensive fixtures would have to be ripped out in order to install new pipe. “A lot of the piping ran in places where we just couldn’t get to it,” he says. “Re-piping would not only have been extremely time intensive, but expensive as well.”
Brodd and others sought an alternative – one that could be implemented with minimal disruption to the towers themselves – or the large student populations that lived within their walls. They also sought a solution that yielded high quality, long-lasting pipes, alleviated future system leakage, enabled better water flow and ensured water quality and purity.
On top of that, they needed to complete work in only three months. “My pipes were at a point where I constantly had leaks in places that were inaccessible, where I couldn’t really do anything to them. Something had to be done, and quickly.”
Tough Challenge Demands Unique SolutionIn considering the complex challenges posed by Moody Towers, Brodd consulted with a colleague in UH’s Mechanical Services department who recommended CuraFlo, citing the special value its franchisees offer customers throughout the country. Though he hadn’t yet heard of the company, Brodd knew from his 19 years at UH and 35 years as a master plumber that a typical pipe restoration project requires less time, disruption and mess than alternative methods involving re-piping or excavating.
“The notion that this work could be done while the buildings remained occupied really caught my attention,” remembers Brodd. “At the end of the day, we considered several companies and different process alternatives, but we chose CuraFlo.”
Consequently, CuraFlo’s President, Brian LeMaire, sent Jeff Turner to meet with Brodd. Turner and the CuraFlo team then conducted a comprehensive assessment of the towers. CuraFlo professionals like LeMaire and Turner are water infrastructure specialists who are carefully trained to evaluate an entire water infrastructure, rather than just considering an isolated plumbing problem.
Oftentimes, complex projects require a blend of solutions: epoxy lining to mitigate property disruption and streamline costs; re-piping in cases where epoxy lining isn’t recommended, or when rerouting is necessary; replacement of corroded valves and fittings; and repairs if leaks are isolated. In the case of Moody Towers, LeMaire and Turner recommended a combination of epoxy lining and pipe replacement in areas where existing pipe was too eroded to reline. Their recommendation ensured a sturdy, long-lasting solution for the towers – and a quick turnaround to meet UH’s strict timetable.
CuraFlo’s epoxy solutions use innovative technologies and time-tested proprietary processes to restore copper, galvanized steel, lead, cement and cast-iron pipes. The company offers two proven technology solutions: the CuraFlo Engineered Flow Lining System for smaller diameter pipes (1/2- to 4-inch diameter) typically found in homes and buildings; and the CuraFlo Spincast System for larger diameter pipes (3- to 36-inch diameter) such as water mains and fire lines that often are buried underground.
Additionally, the company’s CuraPoxy epoxy is unmatched in the industry. It is certified by IAPMO to meet ANSI/NSF Standard 61 for commercial hot water, the highest standard established for potable water. It features short cure times, which enable CuraFlo professionals to provide a speedy return to service. The CuraFlo process has also been accepted as part of the Uniform Plumbing Code by IAPMO, as well as certified to the government’s most stringent safety standards for drinking water.
Smooth Process From Start To FinishThe CuraFlo team began work at Moody Towers in mid-June 2008. Their first step entailed running temporary water lines from the basement to aid in re-piping and relining each floor until the main lines were completed. Workers then dried the pipes with pressurized hot air. Next, pipe interiors were “sandblasted” with specialized particles to remove all debris and mineral build-up and prepare the internal surface of the water pipe for bonding with the epoxy.
From there, workers utilized the CuraFlo Engineered Flow Lining System by flowing epoxy into and through all pits, crevices, pinholes and fractures, bonding it to the cleaned and prepared walls of the pipes and creating a seamless, permanent, protective barrier. The inside of the pipes were coated with Curapoxy epoxy pipe coating material at an average thickness of 16 mils. After the coating cured, a pressure test was applied at 120 psi to assure a leak-free system.
Starting at the top of the South Tower, CuraFlo professionals would complete work on a floor, put it back in service and move downward. Consequently, students on the floor being serviced used restroom facilities on other floors only during work periods; all other students continued to use facilities on their floor. Once a floor was completed, CuraFlo professionals put it back in service.
In some cases, existing pipe was in such poor condition that it couldn’t be lined – it had to be replaced. As Brodd explains, CuraFlo professionals responded accordingly. “The people at CuraFlo are master plumbers – they’re not just guys who do lining. They have the expertise to provide the solutions we needed – from lining to repiping.”
Additionally, Turner and his team have worked diligently to keep Brodd updated at each stage of the project. Daily reports detail progress made to date, plans for the day ahead, and overall results. Weekly progress meetings address pending issues and serve as a forum for open communication.
“Jeff has been very proactive in letting us know about issues that may affect the schedule or the students,” Brodd said. “Any concerns that we voice during project meetings, he’s quick to address and rectify. I’m very satisfied with the service we’ve received throughout this project.”
Tough Test Yields Impressive ResultsHalfway into the three-month project, the CuraFlo team was ahead of schedule in completing nearly all work on the south tower. Water service to each floor of that tower was restored, and Brodd has not encountered leaks or problems of any kind. In fact, he estimates that water flow already has increased 45 percent – possibly more. With work on the north tower now underway, Brodd reaffirms his decision to select CuraFlo.
“I knew very little about CuraFlo before we started this project, but after watching the process and seeing what their people can do, I would highly recommend them to just about anybody,” he says. “I’m very pleased with the system, with the work, and with the people who stand behind it. I was surprised that something like this was actually out there and could work as well as it does. But it’s been a life saver for us.”