Pipe Rehabilitation Still Not In The Mainstream

“I am a pipe rehabilitation contractor in the Midwest and continue to run across plumbing malpractice by licensed plumbers who know about fixing aging pipe with a whole host of non-invasive rehabilitation methods yet sell customers on busting up floors, walls, and ceilings in perfectly habitable spaces that displace occupants for days, weeks and sometimes months to milk extra money from the building owners. Just ran across another one today. Plumber charged $5,000 to bust up a 4” drain pipe under the floor in an apartment house that was 10’ long. Floor covering destroyed, jackhammered concrete setting in the middle of the carpet, and the new 10’ pipe installed. At that point, the plumber told the customer that another 40’ of pipe would also need the same treatment adding another $20,000 to the job. I’d placed a picture of a job I’d done on social media and the building owner saw it. He called me and asked if I could line the pipe instead of jackhammering the floor. I looked at it, said I could easily line some of it and pipe coat the rest for a lot less than $20,000. He fired the plumber and hired me on the spot. How come more plumbers aren’t embracing this technology instead of doing things our grandfather’s way from years ago?”

We see this from a manufacturing and distribution viewpoint all of the time. And here’s a couple of factors that keep people from embracing changing to new methods. Many plumbers and drain cleaning contractors think pipe rehabilitation is “new”, but the fact of the matter is that the first job employing this method was completed over 50 years ago and that pipe rehabilitation is still operating and in service. But many people think that if they haven’t heard of it before it must be new and therefore unproven.

This lack of knowledge holds a lot of people back from learning about new means and methods. Let’s face it, fear of doing something wrong or performing the work poorly may fail so they stay with what they know. The pitfall of this line of thinking is that eventually, the technologies that prove a better, cheaper, and/or faster fix may put the people who shun the new technology out of business because they aren’t competitive anymore with the old ways.

Another ”hold back” of changing to something new is a prior investment in tooling. Jackhammers, picks, shovels, and the investment in training manpower to perform the work the way you’ve always done it may seem wasteful to dispense with. Better to keep old tools and the investment in them working as retiring them feels costly as you aren’t getting your money’s worth out of them.

Lastly, and the most compelling argument for doing things as you’ve always done them, greed or perceived profitability, is a huge motivator. Grossing $25,000 on 50’ of pipe installation sounds like it would be more profitable than $5,000 for repairing the pipe with rehabilitation methods. What is often overlooked is the job costs of each. The $25,000 job that nets a profit of $1,750 isn’t as good as a $5,000 job that nets $3,500 in profit after expenses. As a former contractor, I know both sides of this argument, and based on experience the numbers are pretty close to actual.

Will the pipe rehabilitation eventually replace the old ways? I’ve been in the pipe rehabilitation business for over 25 years and have watched it grow every year since. Eventually, it will surpass rip out and replace projects but unlike most consumer goods revolutions where replacing old technology with a new one seems to happen overnight, this technology is slow in changing as most people don’t jump to rehabilitating pipe until they have a failure in their old one.

For more information, contact Pipe Lining Supply at +1-888-354-6464 or email us at info@pipeliningsupply.com.

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