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Grout and about

Look inside Nisky's grout truck offers insight into sewer maintenance

Niskayuna officials purchased a grout truck as a cost effective solution to repairing the sewer pipes throughout the town.

Niskayuna officials purchased a grout truck as a cost effective solution to repairing the sewer pipes throughout the town. Photo by John Purcell.

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Matthew Yetto, senior civil engineer for Niskayuna, demonstrates how two chemical solutions form a solid to seal sewer pipe joints by mixing the liquid together in some small cups.

— The sealant mixture is pumped out of the truck through tubes and takes about 30 seconds to form a solid.

"Sewer (water) can still flow through the packer during work, so service doesn't get disrupted at all. In fact, this is what makes it so nice " you don't have to dig," said Yetto. "We try to do as little impact as possible to the residents because really we want to avoid digging once you start digging it, it disrupts service and costs a lot more."

The stretch of pipe the town was repairing on Friday, June 3, was 210-foot long section.

Setting up the truck and equipment is the longest part, said Yetto. To replace a similar section of pipe would take weeks to complete.

The crew also has to be aware of temperature changes, because a 10-degree temperature increase will cut the time in half for the chemical sealer to form a solid.

Kevin Hart, water and sewer maintenance worker for the town, sat at a desk at the front end of a truck with a computer, a screen showing a video feed from the pump and various equipment to seal the pipe joints.

One of the more troubling joints repaired on June 3 took around 3.5 gallons of the solution to fix, which Hart administered several times. Hart uses a joystick to control the packer and several nearby switches controlling air pressure and how much solution is pumped out.

Each time he would add more solution to the joint, wait for it to settle, and then check the pressure of the joints. Since the pressure didn't remain consistent, the solution was applied several more times.

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Niskayuna grout truck 'ride along'

Spotlight reporter John Purcell got to step into the Town of Niskayuna's grout truck. Instead of putting in all new sewer pipes, town officials purchased the truck as a cost effective solution. The truck, which was purchased in 2007 and received in 2008, cost the town approximately $450,000. In the video, Yetto demonstrates how the two chemical solutions used to repair pipe joints turns to a solid in a short amount of time. Also, Kevin Hart, maintenance worker for the Water and Sewer Department, repairs a joint in a clay pipe from the grout truck's work station.

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