Search the internet for how to clean the inside of pipes and you will find a lot of information. Cleaning the outside of pipes is a far less commonly discussed subject, which means a lot of people have never heard of one of the key tools of the pipe maintenance trade – silicon carbide cleaning strips.
The first place to start here is probably by answering the question of why would you want to clean the outside of a pipe?
Reasons for cleaning the insides of pipes are obvious. When it comes to drain pipes, regular cleaning helps prevent build-up within the pipe system which takes used water away from a property.
If left untreated, such build-ups can lead to problematic blockages. Minor problems develop into serious issues costing a lot of money to fix, including full-on bursts caused by increased pressure as water struggles to pass through.
Uncleaned drain pipes can subsequently lead to bad odours and pose a health risk, backing up and potentially causing wastewater to leak into properties.
For water pipes, the cleaner the pipes the cleaner the water being drunk, used in cooking and for washing. That explains itself, really.
Cleaning the outside of pipes has nothing to do with health and safety or performance. It instead occurs when pipes are set to undergo repair or maintenance.
Plenty of pipe repair applications require a degree of surface preparation before the application takes place, including soldering, brazing and welding. This can involve removing corrosion and dust from the pipe, roughening it up or deburring it.
Epoxy putty bonds best when sealing a hole or crack to a pipe which has been roughened. When using epoxy paste to rebuild a worn pipeline or an epoxy coating to provide a protective outer shell, surfaces should be free of paint, rust and grime and then roughened up.
Silicone repair tape which is stretched during application for sealing live leaks can be damaged by imperfections in a pipe. To mitigate against this, it is advisable to smooth the surface prior to wrapping the tape around the pipe.
There are several ways in which the outside of pipes can be cleaned. Sandpaper, filing, grit blasting or grinding with a coarse wheel or abrasive disk pad are amongst the most common.
Arguably the most effective though is the humble silicon carbide pipe cleaning strip. A strip is made up of durable fibreglass mesh with silicon carbide grit bonded to it – the same heavy duty material used to create anti slip floor surfaces, amongst other applications.
Mesh strips provide waterproof, non-clogging cloths which can be washed and reused. They feature silicon carbide on both sides and are effective in both dry and wet conditions – particularly useful if pressure cannot be turned off.
To use a silicon carbide pipe cleaning strip, you simply abrade the surface of the pipe with the strip until the required finish is achieved.
They are cheap too – a pack of 10 strips can cost less than £2. Once a strip has been used to the point whereby the silicon carbide is no longer effective in cleaning pipe surfaces, simply throw it away and move onto the next one from the pack.