Very low pressure because of a leak in my mains supply has left me with no hot water - insufficient pressure to fill the storage tank - and every prospect of losing the cold supply soon. My plumber informed me that what I thought was a lead mains pipe is in fact black painted asbestos and he won't touch it. Same response from other plumbers. Asbestos specialists can't look at it for months - too busy. Probably simplest and cheapest to run new mains supply but since it will be a 60m run it will take a few weeks to organize and carry out meantime there is a real danger that I will be left with no water at all. My plumber says the asbestos pipe is intact but a joint has blown. It looks like the joint was surrounded by some sort of cement or concrete reinforcing collar which has cracked badly allowing the joint to open a fraction. Does that sound likely? Would repairing that collar be feasible and would it maintain the supply until such time as I can organize a blue MDPE supply? Any idea what the collar would be made from? Looks like cement/concrete. I am desperate
In the merchant navy when a pipe was leaking in an impossible to repair place a box would be conctructed around it and a concrete made with quick drying cement poured in and left to set. Have seen it done to the ships side too :x :x :x
Obviously needs to totally enclose leak, preferable to turn water off and it will make further repair near on impossible. on the plus side you don't disturb the asbestos.
Chances are it's an asbestos cement pipe used primarily in the water industry as a distribution main. It's unusual to see it used as a house service pipe.
Your local water company should be able to provide a repair service for this type of pipe (at a cost) as they are currently paranoid about leakage targets plus they will also be licensed to remove and dispose of the asbestos.
If this is not an option you could try a special repair tape that's fairly new to the market that moulds itself to the pipe then sets hard and is also rated to a fairly high pressure (can't remember the name -google it)
Another option would be a repair clamp but the old joint would need to be removed first. The old joint should be carefully cut then equally carefully split with a chisel to avoid damaging either ends of the asbestos pipe. You would need to wear disposable overalls and a special asbestos dust mask but as long as the piece you are working on is continually sprayed with water the risk is very low
I wouldn't go to the cost of removing the asbestos pipe in the long term. We usually use the old asbestos pipe as a duct and simply thread the new MDPE pipe inside it. As a guide, you can easily get a 32mm MDPE pipe inside a 2" asbestos pipe and a 32mm pipe is more than adequate for most houses in this country.
I still think your best bet is your local water company but they usually will not cut an asbestos pipe. The normal practice is to remove the length (4 mts) and replace it ,along with the faulty joint, with a PVC equivalent. If the complete length was exposed for them it should take them less than an hour to carry out the work.
Hope this helps
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