From fishing trawlers to super yachts, the plumbing on a ship is critical. Which may explain why we receive so many questions about boat pipe repair from around the globe regarding vessels of all sizes and purposes.
When pipes break and leave water in places it should not be, making a quick repair to restore everything to ship shape and Bristol fashion is important.
Securing the services of a specialist marine contractor can be costly, not to mention that they may not be able to attend to the problem straight away. Likewise, your everyday plumber.
For the trawlerman needing to fix his fishing boat, the weekend sailor with a problem on their leisure craft, even the captain of Roman Abramovich’s £458 million superyacht Eclipse, here is how to make a DIY pipe repair to a ship.
Can the leaking pipe be isolated?
First things first, can the leaking pipe be isolated? If the system can be turned off and pressure removed from the pipe, this will make a repair much easier to carry out.
If the application is taking place whilst the boat is moored, then isolation is often much simpler. Vital pipework which fails whilst at sea becomes more challenging – but do not worry as the following repair method with a SylWrap Universal Pipe Repair Kit will seal both no pressure and live leaks.
Boat pipe repair options
A SylWrap Universal Pipe Repair Kit carries out a two-stage repair which permanently fixes leaks and bursts on pipes of all sizes and materials.
Repairs can be made which are pressure resistant up to 30bar and temperature resistant to 200ºC. The materials in a SylWrap Kit are WRAS approved, meaning they are certified to British standards as safe to use with drinking water.
Whilst all of that sounds impressive, the main reason a SylWrap Kit is so suitable for applications on boats, ships and yachts is because it is one of the most versatile pipe repair methods around.
The first thought of many boat owners and seaman might be to use a pipe repair clamp. However, clamps can only be applied to straight sections of pipe where there is enough room to fit and apply.
Life at sea and its nature means space is often at a premium with pipework installed in cupboards, up against walls and in other confined areas.
Many pipes found on vessels are not straight, either. Elbow joints and U-bends are frequently used to reduce the amount of room taken up.
Toughened rubber hoses are popular in the marine industry because they can be contorted into complicated shapes.
And the easiest way in which to seal complex or difficult-to-access pipework is with a flexible pipe repair kit.
Sealing the leak
If pressure has been isolated, then the pipe is sealed using an epoxy putty stick. The required amount of putty is cut off and then kneaded by hand, sparking a chemical reaction between the resin and the hardener.
Once the putty has been mixed to become a uniform colour and whilst still soft, it is pushed into and around the hole.
In around 10 minutes, it will have cured to form a material as hard as steel which permanently seals the leak in the pipe with pressure resistance to 30bar.
When pressure cannot be turned off, a waterproof silicone repair tape is instead used. The tape stretches by up to three times its lengths and will fuse into a solid rubber band when wrapped around pipework.
Multiple tapes applied over each other will amalgamate in the same way. Tapes continue to be added until seepage from the leak stops. It is possible to build a repair capable of holding up to 30bar.
Reinforcing the repair
The second stage of the repair involves reinforcing the initial seal with a SylWrap HD Pipe Repair Bandage.
SylWrap HD contains a water-based resin. Once activated, the bandage is wrapped and smoothed over the pipe.
It will cure within minutes to form a rock hard, impact-resistant layer of protection encompassing the repair.
With both epoxy putty and SylWrap HD having a work time of less than 10 minutes each, they enable permanent pipe repairs to be completed inside 30 minutes.
How ships can be better prepared for emergency pipe repair
Where a SylWrap Pipe Repair Kit enables a single application, the SylWrap Contractor Case contains enough epoxy putty, silicone tape and SylWrap HD to make up to six live leak repairs.
Since its launch in 2019, the Contractor Case has proven particularly popular in the marine industry. It can be stored easily on boats, ships, yachts and vessels of any size, ready for use in the event of unexpected bursts and leaks.
By keeping a Contractor Case on-board, repairs can be made as soon as problems are identified. That makes the Case a useful tool to have at hand whilst sailing the high seas.