Green Friday presents:

Traditional vs. Trenchless Plumbing

“Technological change is not additive; it's ecological. A new technology does not merely add something; it changes everything."

Traditional pipe repair and replacement generally involves digging down to a damaged pipe, cutting out a section, and replacing it with new pipe. This has been the way in which plumbers and excavators have done repairs since pipe was first used.  Now due to recent technological advances, contractors are able to replace or repair pipe without digging a trench and disturbing soil, landscaping, or driveways. This is known as “trenchless” or “no dig” pipe repair. Many contractors are now offering this option to homeowners and businesses. This article will cover the benefits of trenchless pipe repair, as well as a few different trenchless methods.

The first and most obvious benefit of trenchless pipe replacement is that there is no need dig through a lawn or driveway. There is hardly any mess to clean up, whereas with traditional pipe replacement, it could take several months before it is ready for lawn restoral. Driveways are expensive to repair, especially a paver or concrete driveway. In a trenchless pipe replacement, a new pipe would be pulled right through the middle of the existing pipe, leaving the ground above unaffected. Pipe can not only be repaired or replaced, but also upsized with trenchless methods.

Another benefit of trenchless is that pipe can be replaced or repaired in spots where digging would be impossible. For example, say a sewer pipe runs under a building and it needs replacement. The only two options would be to dig around the entire building and run a new sewer line or to simply replace the old pipe with a pipe-bursting machine. Pipe bursting is a form of trenchless pipe replacement where a cable is attached to a bursting head. The bursting head then breaks apart the old pipe while at the same time pulling a new HDPE pipe. This is the preferred method of trenchless pipe replacement.

There are other methods of trenchless pipe repair such as pipe lining. This method involves forming a fiberglass resin cast to the inside walls of a pipe. It is very effective when a small section of the pipe has gone bad. A pipe lining kit that is popular is Pipe Patch. With Pipe Patch, an inflatable rubber boot is placed down a cleanout. A fiberglass resin mixture is placed around the rubber boot. When the rubber boot is at the damaged spot in the pipe, the rubber is inflated to the diameter of the pipe and held there while the fiberglass mixture hardens. After the process is completed you are left with a smooth patch over the damaged area. The fiberglass resin patch actually becomes harder and stronger than the pipe itself.

Trenchless is really a green technology. There is no need to throw dirt and silt everywhere. Natural habitats can be left undisturbed. Old pipes and lines that could have water, gas, or sewage leaking into the ground can be replaced with HDPE pipe that is leak proof. If roots are growing into a sewer or drainage pipe, there is no need to cut the tree down. Simply pipe-burst the bad pipe out while installing new HDPE pipe which is impervious to root intrusion.

Trenchless technology just makes sense. There are cases when trenchless is not feasible, and the cost is normally higher than traditional pipe replacement. Then there are cases where trenchless is the only option, and cost isn’t an issue. It will be exciting to see where this industry will be in five or ten more years. Stay tuned to the exciting world of trenchless!

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HDPE pipe attached to a bursting head. This will pull new pipe through old pipe using a pipe bursting machine

How the Pipe Patch system works

Traditional vs. Trenchless Plumbing