9-11 May 2023
ICC Sydney

Case study: A million dollar pipe problem

The team at Nuflow pipe repair solutions share their experience of handling a large scale pipe repair at AMP Capitol that could have cost lives.

When the fire sprinkler system at the AMP Capitol building in North Sydney failed a pressure test, they knew they had a pipe problem. Due to corrosion in pipes, a simple internet search led building managers to Nuflow pipe repair solutions. Saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars and months of productivity.

The problem

A build-up of scale and rust corrosion in 150mm galvanised steel pipes had caused the building to fail a pressure test on its fire sprinkler system.

The solution

  • Pipe Repair – Reline over 90 metres of galvanised steel pipes with Redline
  • 4 x 1050 CFM generators to speed cleaning and relining processes
  • 1,000 litres of diesel
  • Large team to get the job delivered on time.
  • Three days to resolve the issue.
  • zero disruption to services, lifestyle, and functionality
  • Cost savings over replacing pipes approximately: $800,000

Economic benefits of relining with Nuflow

Nulfow’s Franchise Support Manager, Matt Bell, said it was starting to look like a bit of nightmare for the AMP Capitol’s owners.

“Being told they’d have to find a million dollars out of the blue was bad enough, but with no working fire system you can’t have people in any part of the building, so a staged replacement wasn’t even an option,” he said.

“They decided it was neither logical nor feasible to replace the corroded pipes, and asked building management to find an alternative.

“Someone from the fire inspection and management team had heard about pipe relining technology that could cope with high pressure water applications so they started searching the internet to find out whether anyone in Australia could do it.”

The SOS call came through to Nuflow’s national office in Queensland and once they’d discussed their issues over the phone, an inspection time for a quote was organised.

“We told them we could save them around $800,000,” said Bell. “Of course they were pretty happy, especially when we told them we could do it without any disruption to operations at all, but they still needed approval from AMP because they’d be the ones footing the bill.”

The pipe relining plan

With tenants wanting business-as-usual, the Nuflow team established a schedule of works that would start after hours on a Friday and be done by the time workers returned on Monday morning.

“We arranged to have four extremely powerful compressors on hand, each one about the size of a 3-tonne truck,” Matt Bell said.

“They were 1050 CFM generators and they were so large we couldn’t get them into the basement of the building so we utilised space around the parking lot and on the edge of the street.

With very small pipes such as those used in fire systems, the pipes are cleaned by injecting an aggregate of very small aluminium filings into the pipe and blowing them through at speed with compressed air. A filtration system on the other end of the pipe then captures all the filings, dust and organic debris for safe disposal, ensuring zero environmental impact.

“We used our non-structural Redline product because it’s strong enough to handle high-pressure pipes and is also approved for drinking (potable) water.

“It’s a very large building so we had a big team and everyone worked incredibly hard, because we knew we had to get that first coat in before we knocked off, otherwise it wouldn’t have cured in time.”

On Monday morning the team completed the all-important flow and pressure tests on the lines and packed up their gear as workers began returning to the building, unaware of the major restoration that had taken place in the hidden network of pipes keeping them safe.

Saving building managers thousands by relining steel pipes

According to Bell, the problem with fire services is that the pipes have to be steel because of their ability to remain intact for longer periods of intense heat.

“They have to use steel pipes because copper or plastic ones would melt too quickly in a fire, meaning water couldn’t reach the hot spots,” he said.

“Even to this day, brand new buildings are having steel pipes installed but the problem is that they start corroding from the inside pretty much straight away, and with water pipes, it happens more quickly because they’re constantly submerged in water.

“The issue is even worse for fire systems because the water doesn’t keep moving as it does for other water pipes, it’s just stagnant – so if the pipe hasn’t been lined the water just sits there and corrodes it.”

“Basically a lot of building managers just don’t realise what we can do,” he said. “I mean, imagine if that was your building and you spent a million dollars on new pipes and then found out your problems could have been solved more easily and more permanently, and at a saving of $800,000.

Click here to visit the Nuflow website. You can talk to the team at Stand D10 at Total Facilities, 27-29 October 2020 – register online to attend.
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