Seeing the Light: UV-Casted CIPP System Helps Contractors Stay Productive

Seeing the Light: UV-Casted CIPP System Helps Contractors Stay Productive

LightRay LRI was able to cast 47 feet of 4-inch pipe in 10 minutes at this job, according to Josh Shelton.

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Technological advancements can be revelatory for business owners, municipalities and their employees, lighting a new path forward in an ever-changing world.

Josh Shelton, owner of Shelton Plumbing in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, understands very well the impact that new knowledge and technology and can have on him and his crew. That’s why he stays in touch with plumbing contractors throughout the country and builds relationships with the manufacturers who research and develop new products for the industry.

Ultimately, that’s how his team ended up working with Waterline Renewal Technologies’ new LightRay LRI UV-casted CIPP system before it was recently released to the public, agreeing to give the manufacturer feedback.

“We’ve built a lot of trust in each other,” says Shelton. “They gave us the opportunity to see what we could do with it and report back the things we like and don’t like, and that’s singlehandedly one of the reasons why I absolutely love working with this company. Not only the company but existing installers across the county who will take a call at 10 o’clock at night to shoot ideas about projects they want to get into. We all kind of help each other to be successful.”

He says he’s impressed by Waterline Renewal Technology’s professionalism and respect for installers, and welcomed the opportunity to see what the LightRay LRI system can do. “There are times where it kind of blows me away — the people that take the time out of their day to talk to me about issues or to overcome obstacles. There’s no holding back on their end. Anybody at any time will stop at nothing to help someone like myself, a small town plumber trying to make my way in the world.”

As far as Shelton’s experience with UV-casted CIPP technology goes, it’s been positive all around. He says it has increased the quality of life for his employees, customers and the public surrounding his job sites.

“Sometimes I get lost for words with how much it has changed the lives of my employees,” he says. “We’ve got some that have been here for 15 years, and the aches and pains of 15 years of hard work has taken its toll. But morale right now is high because we’re doing more work than we ever have with so much less manual labor. It’s an amazing piece of equipment.”

Save time casting

The LightRay comes in a dual pull-in-place and spot repair system called the LR3, or a lateral inversion system called the LRI. The LR3 offers operators flexibility to either pull-in-place or spot repair by changing the proprietary cold LED repair packer. Non-VOC, non-thermal UV casting resin (activated by UV light) is pre-impregnated into a fiberglass liner and shipped ready to install — temperature stable and without need for refrigeration — for 3-, 4- and 6-inch pipe diameters.

The flexibility of the system’s liner material exceeds the requirements of ASTM F1216, according to Waterline Renewal Technologies, and the design of its light train allows it to navigate multiple bends up to 90 degrees.

Shelton’s team has used both the LightRay LR3 and LRI, but most recently has been doing inversion CIPP work with the LRI. “We were very well versed in the two-step process of inversion lining,” he says. “With the LightRay LRI system, there is a specialized system where at a certain point installing the bladder, you attach the light train, which is 50-feet long, and then you continue the inversion process with the bladder, pulling the lights with it to the far end of your liner.”

Shelton says it’s about a 10-minute cast time for 4-inch pipe, or 15-minute cast time for a 6-inch pipe, and you can cast 50 feet at a time. Beyond 50 feet, it’s still a simple process. “If, say, you need to install 75 feet, and you do the first 50 feet, you’re basically going to keep positive pressure but reduce it ever so slightly, and you can then start to retract your bladder, pulling the light train with it to the next section of liner that you need to cast. Then you reinflate to your holding pressure and start another casting process. You can’t really beat the time.”

Getting more done

Saving time on the casting process has never been more valuable for Shelton Plumbing than it is right now. With an ongoing worker shortage and a huge influx of rehab work — largely due to a local ordinance in New Kensington mandating strict inspections of sewer laterals and building drains for home sales and refinancing — Shelton says he’s turning down four to five calls per day related to lining projects.

“I can’t overpromise and under-deliver, and we’re on par keeping up with what we know we can handle,” he says. “Everything else we have to turn away. Truth be told, you can’t find individuals who want to work. But now that you have this UV technology, it’s easier to train. It’s easier to operate. There are so many pieces to UV technology that will help us do better, and be better, at our jobs.”

In addition to the quick casting times, the LightRay LRI system promises a simpler job site with less equipment, and a smaller zone that his team needs to control for safety reasons. “I don’t have to use a dry steam generator, which also requires electricity and water. Plus you have the blow-off of the steam where you have to be really careful about how you’re setting up that project. There’s a whole slew of pieces of equipment you don’t have to think about anymore. And with it being UV casted and a pre-impregnated liner material, you’re really pulling the material outside a box, measuring and cutting it to fit, and your team has so much less to worry about.”

In a field that has traditionally seen a high turnover rate for new hires and apprentices, factors like these are allowing Shelton Plumbing to retain the employees it can find. “I’m keeping my guys because they’re not only happier, but now I’m able to pay them more money because we’re doing more work in a faster amount of time. To me, no matter what piece of equipment we have at our disposal, to do our jobs better — that’s really what all this is about.”

Job sites can be simplified with UV systems like the LightRay, meaning there’s less equipment for crews to operate and a smaller zone to control.
Job sites can be simplified with UV systems like the LightRay, meaning there’s less equipment for crews to operate and a smaller zone to control.

A good I&I solution

Shelton Plumbing has performed quite a few rehab projects where there was serious water infiltration, whether from laterals or interior building drains.   

“There’s a lot of times where we discover interior French drains from when a house was originally built in the ’50s or ’60s, and usually right at the foundation there’s a cross-type fitting, and a lot of root infiltration comes from there. We have to eliminate that and block that off. Then it’s brought to the customer’s attention that they might have to seek alternative methods to remediate any foundational water issues. That’s typically what’s happening; you block it off in one place and water wants to migrate somewhere else.”

When New Kensington was initially faced with more rigorous inspections on building drains and laterals, with taps being a pass or fail on an inspection, Shelton Plumbing started using CIPP systems for a lot of the laterals and longer runs.

“But with the LightRay LR3 patch system, basically you can do a 1-foot repair up to a 20-foot repair because there’s a 20-foot-long packer,” says Shelton. “We can restore interior building drains with minimal access, sometimes using all existing access points, and you can line and repair and restore a system with minimal disruption to somebody’s property in a fraction of the time.”

Another benefit of the system is being to locate reinstatements easier, due to the material’s flexibility. “The material is very flexible, so you can do transitions, 3 to 4 inch, 4 to 6 inch, very easily. And when you’re installing the liner, and you’re inflating and holding it at its nominal pressure, if there’s a branch connecting into it, it’ll basically stretch and flex out into that branch line, creating a very visible indentation there. Wherever you would start your reinstatement process, it would be very simple to identify.” 


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