How to extend the service life of pipes?

Pipes deteriorate because organic waste accumulates over time in them and on the pipe’s surface. This organic waste consists of grease, starch, cellulose, protein and hydrogen sulphide. It causes the pipes to become brittle, because the decomposition process of organic matter creates hydrogen sulphide compounds. Hydrogen sulphide and gases create a ‘gas pocket’ on the upper part of the pipe which, when it comes into contact with the pipe surface, turns into sulphuric acid and corrodes the pipe.


Organic waste in the pipe creates blockages. Waste sludge in the sewer slows down the flow of waste water, resulting in additional accumulation. Water or sludge flowing properly through pipes does not wear them. It’s the decomposition process of waste sludge remaining in the pipes which makes the pipes brittle and creates unpleasant odours. It also shortens the service life of pipes.


Organic waste enters pipes from a number of sources. It is created in the kitchen when cooking. As energy-efficient dishwashers become more and more common, the smaller amounts of water used, which are not as hot as previously, cause organic waste to enter the sewage system. Pipe problems have also increased during the last two decades due to the introduction dual-flush toilets: the low-flush option does not create enough flow to properly clear the pipes. The problem with waterless urinals, on the other hand, is the build up of uric scale in pipes, which can block them.


Pipes can be cleaned and their condition improved with pressure rinsing. However, when performed on a regular basis, this is quite an expensive method because it requires professional equipment and expertise. Pipes may also be cleaned with a range of chemical products. Unfortunately, many of these contain harmful and even toxic substances.


Water treatment plants have been using microbial cleaning systems for almost a century. Inspired by these methods, we have developed a microbial product that can be used in pipes. A product developed by SmartPipe System Oy contains five microbial strains that feed on organic waste accumulated in pipes. These non-pathogenic microbes (i.e. microbes that do not cause illnesses) are dispensed into the pipes, performing a cleaning action. The microbes feed on organic waste and eliminate the bad smells and blockages caused by waste sludge. As the pipes become cleaner, embrittlement and corrosive processes are interrupted, because sulphurous gases are no longer created.


Using microbes to clean pipes will enable postponement of pipe replacement, saving on the property owner’s renovation costs. This method also saves on maintenance costs, because clearing blockages, avoidable maintenance, pressure rinsing and water damage occur less frequently. Living comfort is also increased due to fewer unpleasant smells. When used in restaurants, microbial pipe cleaning benefits grease separation due to a more effective grease trap, which does not have to be emptied so frequently, requires less maintenance, and has less need for chemical drain cleaner chemicals. A microbial method is not only good for the pipes themselves but, being free of harmful substances, is also an environmentally friendly choice.