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What Is Trenchless Pipe Bursting?

Trenchless pipe bursting is installing piping underground for water, sewer, or gas. A new pipe sits within an old one that requires replacement. Smaller diameter access piping is then attached to both ends of the old pipe, and the new pipe moves through the access pipe.

Experts install expander heads to burst through the old pipe. These can come in two forms: static or dynamic heads. Static models are designed for pulling through the old pipe to break it up. Dynamic heads contain pneumatic or hydraulic tools to add pressure when breaking through more robust materials.

The new pipe slowly moves through the old pipe. Then, the head must be properly installed onto its mounting system. Workers cut the new pipe to length and add coupling for connection to another piece of piping. 

The process is possible through directional drilling and horizontal boring to install pipelines underneath existing infrastructure or water bodies. The old pipe breaks into pieces and does not require removal.

Trenchless pipe bursting usually requires less time and money than digging up the old pipe, making it a more sustainable option. Trenchless pipe bursting is also safer because it does not cause any disruption to current infrastructure or surroundings.

pipe bursting

What Are the Advantages of Trenchless Pipe Bursting?

This technique is viable for repairs, replacement, or new installations and offers numerous advantages over traditional open-cut installation methods:

  • Reduced construction time
  • Little to no ground disruption
  • Reduced property restoration
  • Less road repair
  • Reduced environmental impact
  • Reduced labor
  • Less exposure to potentially hazardous materials
  • Quicker installation

With trenchless pipe bursting, fewer instances of water damage to property occur because fewer pipes rupture during the replacement.

There is a high risk of damaging gas lines, sewer pipes, water mains, and other buried utilities with traditional digging methods. Trenchless pipe bursting eliminates this risk.

Pipe bursting is also less disruptive to traffic, with reduced road repairs needed after trenchless replacement. Trenchless replacements don’t require digging up and replacing sidewalks or roads.

This process can save money in reduced road or sidewalk repairs that may be necessary due to heavy equipment.

Pipe bursting also results in less environmental impact than digging because there isn’t the need for large amounts of soil or pavement to be removed and replaced after pipe installation.

Trenchless pipe burst replacement reduces exposure to hazardous materials by preventing the accidental release of any combustible gasses during excavation.

Workers can also complete trenchless pipe installation much faster because instead of figuring out how to access the old pipes and weak points – this is already done. The pipe requires only a small one-meter wide trench instead of large trenches that have to be dug up all around inside your yard or street.

What Are the Disadvantages of Trenchless Pipe Bursting?

Although trenchless pipe bursting has many advantages, there are a few disadvantages to consider:

  • Not all pipes can be burst
  • Destruction of the old pipe
  • Not suitable for all applications
  • More expensive than open-cut replacements

Starting this process requires an access point, so sacrificing some property for this work may occur. This sacrifice could be a small area of grass or sidewalk to allow entry into the yard during installation. 

Trenchless pipe installation is generally more expensive than traditional open-cut digging methods but less expensive than completely excavating and replacing an entire line.

Trenchless pipe bursting uses small machines that do all the drilling and pull a new pipe through the old one. This equipment is often larger and heavier than some workers can handle, so consider hiring professionals with experience with this process.

Trenchless pipe installation requires planning and expertise to ensure proper completion. Before starting, make sure the contractor designs a work plan that considers these factors. This confirmation will allow faster, more efficient work while eliminating potential hazards or inconveniences.

How Is Trenchless Pipe Bursting Performed? 

A camera locates the pipe and finds the best route for the burst. The expander is pulled along and cuts a path through the old pipe, freeing up space for the new one behind it. It will break away the old materials piece by piece without ever digging anything up.

This process is ‘trenchless’ because no actual digging occurs in your yard or street like traditional replacement. The new pipe is pushed through and attached to the old one. Only a minor amount of digging around the mainline is required to allow the attachment of appliances, saving time and money.

Only a tiny, one-meter wide divot goes around the pipe instead of large trenches that have to be dug up all around inside your yard or street.

The pipes will then go into an underground chamber, backfilled as it goes along, or they will go straight back into the ground, leaving a small hole as if it were never there. 

Trenchless pipe bursting saves money because barely any yard or street requires removal, thus eliminating any need for heavy machinery and the associated expenses. 

How Much Does Trenchless Pipe Bursting Cost?

Pipe bursting is slightly more expensive than traditional digging repair methods in most circumstances. However, trenchless replacement saves money if digging involves tearing up streets, sidewalks, and infrastructure.

Trenchless pipe bursting is usually $60 – $250 per foot. The cost varies based on the difficulty accessing the old pipe and the time required to insert the new piping. The old pipe material can affect the price, as some materials are more difficult to break.

Trenchless pipe bursting allows for faster installation of new piping. A project typically takes a week to complete with trenchless pipe replacement in one day. This elevated cost gets offset by the savings made on repairs to existing structures caused by excavation errors.

How Long Will a Trenchless Pipe Replacement Last?

A pipe has a lifespan of roughly 100 years when continually under pressure. The new piping can last much longer than that with trenchless pipe bursting.

Without digging up roads, there is no chance of accidental gas and other combustible materials emitting into the air, which is a common concern with traditional replacement methods. 

Trenchless bursting isn’t the best option if you need to dig. If a pipe is in a hard-to-reach place inaccessible with an expander, this method may not be suitable.

Trenchless pipe bursting is often faster than traditional digging methods, primarily if the old piping can easily be accessed and broken apart. If there isn’t much force required to pull the plunger back and forth along the length of the pipe, this method may work best. Consider all of these factors if you are interested in this replacement method.

Trenchless pipe bursting is a method of replacing pipes without tearing up yards or streets. This process involves using an expander and cutting through old piping, freeing space for new pipe insertion.

The trenchless method is a much more cost-effective solution to old pipe replacement, especially if digging up streets and sidewalks is not a potential option. It doesn’t come without its downsides: it can be difficult in some situations and requires the same amount of time as a traditional replacement.

Costs vary depending on how challenging it is to access the old pipe and its material. Trenchless pipe bursting lasts much longer than traditional digging methods because fewer risks are associated with gas leaks or other combustible materials released into the air.

If you’re interested in this type of replacement, make sure you have a firm grasp of the factors affecting costs and don’t forget to do your research.

Warning Signs Of A Busted Sewer Pipe

Some warning signs of a busted sewer pipe include slow drains, clogged toilets, leaking pipes, sewer odors, increased sewer bills, moldy walls, and more. Call in a professional if you think your sewer pipe is busted. 


Pipe Bursting FAQS

Does pipe bursting work?

– Yes, pipe bursting works. It’s efficient, cost-effective, durable, and lasting. 

What kind of pipe is used for pipe bursting?

– Pipe bursting uses high-density polyethylene. 

How long does a burst pipe take to fix?

– About one to two days. 

Do pipes always burst when they freeze?

– Not always. If the expanding ice can push water through an opening, such as a faucet, the pressure might be relieved.