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What is Pipe Bursting?: A Simple Guide

14 Jan

A blocked pipe is no fun and in many instances this can mean a visit from a contractor like ourselves. Although we love to see you, you may not want to see us!

Blocked pipes can be caused by many things from grease to sanitary products, to a build-up over time that has collected waste and grease. Tree roots or collapsed or sagging pipes are another reason you might have a block or leak.

A CCTV pipe inspection will usually tell you what the problem is and in no time at all you’ll see what’s causing the block. But if it’s a tree root or a more serious problem, often a pipe will crack and break, and that means the pipe will need to be replaced.

Replacing a pipe by digging down and removing and replacing it is more costly (to you and the surrounding ground) and if it can be avoided then we’d all prefer it.

But what’s the answer to a cracked pipe that needs replacing that isn’t an excavation?


Pipe bursting saves excavation and time

Pipe bursting is exactly as it sounds. It’s a procedure carried out by a local waste water and plumbing company and involves a technique created to save digging up the ground or even removing the old pipe at all.

Pipe bursting destroys the cracked pipe and leaves it in the ground to make way for a brand new, and environmentally-friendly pipe. Pipe bursting allows a contractor to lay a new pipe in its place and leave the broken pipe in the ground for the earth to compress it. It also stops heavy digging work and the resulting issues around that.

Pipe bursting is not something that can be carried out ‘DIY’. It needs a trained company to do it because it involves heavy and powerful machinery that needs to be operated by a trained expert.

Here’s how it works in essence:

  1. Specialized pneumatic or hydraulic equipment is inserted into one end of the cracked pipe to force a bursting head through it.
  2. The front of the machinery has a cone-shaped end called a bursting head. This head fits into the pipe, but the main (following) body of the machinery is larger. So as it’s pulled through the old pipe, it forces its way inside the old pipe, pushes it out, and cracks and breaks up under the pressure.
  3. Following the bursting head (and the broken ‘exploded’ old pipe) is a new HDPE pipe that is seamlessly inserted into the trench where the old pipe once was.
  4. Then the pipe is then connected at either end, the smaller excavation at either end of the pipe is filled, and the job is complete.

The pipe that’s burst is replaced in one swift movement, meaning that the new pipe won’t struggle to be put in its new position. No large excavation is needed to remove the old one.

Pipe bursting (or trenchless pipe repair) isn’t more cost-effective, but it is better for the land surrounding the pipe and it is a more time-efficient way to replace cracked pipes.

Pipe bursting is especially popular where there are large buildings or roads above the pipes where excavating the old pipe and replacing it would cause closures, loss of business, or disturbance to the local environment including trees, hedgerows, or wild life.


Is pipe bursting bad for the environment?

Pipe bursting or trenchless pipe repair can damage the ground and of course any neighbouring pipes or cables and special care should be taken (and will be with an expert) to ensure nothing is disturbed too much in the vicinity.

Trenchless pipe repair is a better option than the obvious upheaval that an excavation will cause, though. Although the old pipes are not always as safe for the environment as the new pipes are, it’s not seen as a bad practice. The old pipe will be eaten up by the ground around the new pipe and it’s unlikely that these broken pieces will ever cause harm to the surround earth, plants, or wildlife.

The new old pipe simply stays where it was, in the ground in many pieces as the bursting head breaks it up; pushed into the surrounding earth which acts like an absorbing sponge would with water.


Is pipe bursting more expensive that excavating?

Pipe bursting (trenchless pipe repair) is not a cheaper option and in some cases will be more expensive than simply digging up the old pipe and replacing it. But… all that work will cause other issues like having to landscape the ground, move structures or even buildings. In some circumstances it simply isn’t possible without a huge upheaval.

The isolated job of repairing the pipe may well be more expensive, but the pros in many environments and situations often outweigh the cons.


What are the alternatives to pipe bursting?

Pipe lining could be carried out. This is when the pipe is relined with a smaller pipe that is inserted inside the old, cracked or broken pipe. This isn’t always possible though, and in the case of a collapsed or sagging pipe, relining won’t always work, or even be possible.

The other alternative is to excavate the entire pipe and that’s often an alternative that doesn’t bear thinking about for most situations.


Pipe bursting saves time and hassle

Pipe bursting is quite an aggressive approach to a broken pipe but given the nature of a pipe and where it’s found, bursting and replacing can be the best option.

Before having any work carried out it’s highly recommended that you have a CCTV pipe inspection to investigate the source of the problem and get it diagnosed by a professional.

That way you always have the best solution to your pipe problem, and you don’t create more unnecessary work.

If you need more help please do content us for your Colorado pipe repair and we’ll be glad to help.

Tags:CCTV Pipe InspectionsSewers

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