You may have seen, used, or heard of composite pipe repair solutions.
In this application, pipe repair specialists combine a variety of fiberglass or carbon fiber woven cloths with epoxy compounds. They then wrap them around piping defects caused by external corrosion or internal erosion or corrosion. Wall loss would create an operating or system life limitation if not for these repairs.
The goals of composite repair are to arrest the progress defects and restore walls. This allows operators to use systems to their maximum operating designs.
Due to a lack of understanding of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) code and engineering principles related to composite repairs, this repair method has gotten a bad “wrap” — pardon the pun.
It’s a result of the way many product manufacturers push products, how operators have used solutions in the past, and a variety of installation providers who fail to control their installs under approved quality programs.
Let’s first look at the commodity approach, because there are two approaches product manufactures take to bring their systems to market.
- The instant leak repair kit in a bag method a number of composite manufacturers use is a way to promote and sell many products in the low-end solution category: selling lots of water-activated, fast-installation-repair-package systems.
- Pipe repair specialists use custom engineered solutions in which they consider each piping defect and use a series of ASME PCC-2 composite calculations to design custom repairs that suit each individual case, situation, process, temperature, and pressure.
You can easily see that the value of each has its place and the cost for each would be different.
Next, let’s consider operator uses and decision-making processes.
Faced with repair needs, budgets, and — in many cases — lack of knowledge of the two different solutions mentioned above, maintenance teams can struggle to match the best solutions to the needs. Many are influenced by product-sale-focused providers and end up selecting inappropriate solutions.
Let’s add in the third element: installation providers. Faced with a wide variety of products and a need to win work competitively, many installation providers have historically leaned toward offering the cheapest solutions. These solutions tend to lack proper required National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) surface preparation, and personnel who are untrained, undertrained, or simply lacking enough experience to be deemed competent incorrectly recommend generic and un-engineered “number of wraps” estimates.
These three contributing factors result in the end-user opinion that “composites don’t work.”
But this valuable solution doesn’t deserve the bad and unfair “wrap.”
Like any repair, proper composite methods can be viable solutions for end users, but they must control the process to control the results.
For composites, control the process as an engineered solution and only hire professional installers who follow ASME PCC-2 and quality management system (QMS) guidelines.