There’s a reason why composite repair is an industry staple: It’s a quick and effective way to temporarily repair a thinning pipe that’s been weakened by corrosion or erosion. Because it seems like such a straightforward solution, most people expect its application to be straightforward as well. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Without proper application techniques, this product can create more headaches than it relieves.
“Part of the struggle is changing the industry’s perception of composite wrap repair, which is that anyone can do it,” explains Innovator’s Quality Manager Chris Coombs. “We’re trying to educate everyone that that’s not the process.”
What can go wrong?
Typically, there are three main causes behind a failed composite repair job: insufficient surface preparation, incorrect material selection, especially when working with elevated temperatures, and installer experience.
Surface preparation is tedious and is a commonly skipped step — which is often the reason why repairs fail. “It’s time consuming to get the pipe surface prepared the right way,” Coombs says. “There’s a due diligence to it — it’s more than just cleaning the pipe, there’s also a roughness component required for adhesion.”
Using an epoxy system that doesn’t meet the installation temperature for the pipe is another common pitfall. Coombs explains. “There are different types of epoxies available, each designed to activate and cure within a specified temperature range. Choosing a system that does not meet the temperature will produce an insufficient cure and potentially leading to failure.
In either of these scenarios, the repair will eventually fail. When this happens, the best outcome is having an expensive re-do — or possibly a leak that calls for a more complex fix. And of course, the worst-case scenario is having to undergo an unplanned shutdown.
Make sure it’s done right
To ensure your composite repair is installed correctly, follow these steps:
- Know your pipe. You need to start with data about the size and severity of corrosion. Innovator’s CUI Rapid Detection OM3 is the ideal way to check for corrosion or pitting without interrupting service or removing insulation or coatings.
- Use trained crews. Verify that your contractor’s crews are trained and highly skilled in working with pipe wrap.
- Ensure proper surface preparation. Have your technical crew show you they’ve achieved the proper NACE profile before applying the wrap.
- Make sure it’s the right fix. Make sure the engineered design, length of repair, and the thickness of the repair are all appropriate for the size and severity of your piping defect.
Composite wrap is a simple, effective product for addressing corrosion and preventing unplanned shutdowns, but only if it’s put on right the first time. At Innovator, we believe you should hold composite repairs to the same high-quality standards that you hold all your piping repair solutions to — and we have the tools and trained crews necessary to help.
Innovator Industrial Services teams handle every industrial pipeline project with commitment and integrity. Contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at (855) 436-4666, or on our website. You’ll never need to contact anyone else.