Sydney Pipe Freezing – About
Living in Sydney, it’s not uncommon to come across services that due to their age and condition, cannot be isolated. With some buildings well over one hundred years old, it’s expected that the services within are equally as old. Over time, pipe materials and components break down and start to lose efficiency. If you take for example, the galvanised piping that was once used for water conduit in homes and properties around Sydney.
If you were to dissect a galvanised water pipe, you would be guaranteed to see scaling and signs of deterioration from the inside (if not the outside also).
Just as the pipes deteriorate, so do the fittings and ancillaries that accompany them. Over time, isolation valves cease up, leaving live services that can’t be shut down.
Of course, in most cases, this goes completely unnoticed until it’s time to carry out a repair. In scenarios, however, that require services to be promptly isolated (water leaks for example), this can become a significant problem.
Pipe freezing is a solution that enables services to be isolated in scenarios where typical isolation cannot be achieved.
Be that through deteriorating instances, like the one mentioned above, or in situations where entire services cannot be shut down and valves need to be cut into sections of pipework.
Who is Pipe Freezing for?
Pipe Freezing is typically utilised by technicians that require the services they’re working on to be shut down.
In most cases, these technicians are from the plumbing trade; fire service contractors; air conditioning technicians, etc. For the majority of the time, these services are frozen so the contractors can remove a section of pipe so that they can replace it with a stop valve of some description.
This enables them to isolate the service to carry out things like maintenance and repair of the affected service.
How Pipe Freezing works
Pipe Freezing works by surrounding an exposed pipe with a solution that freezes the liquid within the pipe to a point where it can no longer pass through. The substance is ‘liquid nitrogen’, a (chemically) harmless liquid with a boiling point of -196 degrees Celsius (-321 degrees Fahrenheit).
It contains no chemicals, but it will burn you if it comes in direct contact.
When the liquid inside the pipe is surrounded by the liquid nitrogen, it begins to freeze until it’s frozen solid. Once the liquid is totally frozen, the downstream direction of the pipe can be opened and work can be carried out.
What types of pipe can we freeze?
The types of pipes that can be frozen are not as significant as the size of the service. Typically, most materials can be frozen without a problem, however some materials will take longer than others, especially if the service is large in diameter.
Some of the materials that can be frozen include (but are not limited to):
Black Mild Steel
What size pipe can be frozen?
There’s not really a limit to how small, or large the service needs to be in order to freeze it. What needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that the larger the service is, the longer it will take.
This becomes very relevant in scenarios where services can only be isolated for a certain time, or during limited hours. Pipes as small as 6mm in diameter can be frozen, right up to 500mm and beyond. Air conditioning cooling towers are an example of a large service that can be frozen.
What access and clearance do we need to freeze pipes?
The other variable when it comes to freezing pipes is access and clearance. Once again, the quality of the freeze can be affected by how close the freezing point will come in relation to things like; other services, earth, concrete, etc.
Typically, the larger the pipe, the greater clearance required. For example, to freeze a 100mm diameter pipe, we may require one meter of clearance either side.
Of course, access is also important as when the freezing process is underway, the pipe freezing specialist needs to be able to top up the liquid nitrogen constantly in order to maintain the integrity of the freeze.
Likewise, the technicians carrying out the repair will also need access as they are the ones that will be carrying out the repair/maintenance, therefore they’ll need to be able to cut the pipe, remove a section and replace it with another.
Basically, the more access and clearance, the better.
What are pipe freezing limitations?
There are a number of variables that will prevent a pipe from being able to be frozen. Any one of these variables are alone, enough to compromise a freeze, however more than one can result in failure and danger.
Here are some considerations that can lead to a poor, or failed freeze:
Not enough clearance around the area to be frozen.
If a heat source is too close to the freeze (brazing as an example).
Flow. If the water in the pipe cannot be stopped, it may not freeze.
Excess and fluctuating pressure within the pipe.
Temperature. Both ambient and within the pipe.
Quality and condition of the pipework
Why use Aqua Freeze and Locate?
Using a professional is always important when it comes to skilled work, however when it comes to pipe freezing, the stakes are extremely high.
A failed freeze could very easily result in significant damage and worse – potential danger.
Aqua Freeze & Locate are highly specialised and have spent years working with contractors, offering a professional and reliable pipe freezing service.
In all our time of pipe freezing, we’ve never once had a serious situation unfold, which is a testament to our industry knowledge and understanding of services, materials properties, variables and of course the freezing process.
Give us a call today and speak to one of our experts.