Over time, underground pipes can crack or deteriorate, necessitating repair. You may think that the only way to fix it is to dig a long trench to expose the faulty pipe. However, this is a costly, messy, and damaging process that will ruin your lawn or garden and leave you struggling to repair the leftover damage after you repair the pipe. Thankfully, this method is becoming more and more outdated as the years go by and another option climbs in popularity: trenchless technology.
At it’s core, trenchless technology is a collection of construction methods that require little to no digging into the earth. Instead of completely exposing pipes, the ground is drilled or bored into at small entry and exit points. This allows access to the pipes so they can be worked with. Water line repair, replacement, or installation can all be achieved with a few clean and cost-effective methods that won’t destroy your land.
One of the oldest and most commonly used forms of repair, sliplining involves inserting a smaller pipe into an already existing larger pipeline. This is done to repair leaks or restore structural stability. It can be done either continually, where one long pipe is inserted all the way into the other, or segmentally, where several separate pieces are inserted one at a time and sealed together. The space between the new and old pipes is then grouted securely. It is a relatively cheap and simple process that won’t be too much trouble for a professional to handle. However, the pipe will be slightly smaller, which may affect its performance.
Similar to sliplining, the cured-in-place method also inserts a new pipe into a pre existing one. In this method, the pipe is a long, seamless felt tube that has been saturated with polyester. With the help of water or air pressure, it is inverted into a damaged pipe. It twists and turns with the pipe and can conform to fit any shape differences along the way. Once it is all the way in, it is cured with heat to lock it in place and create a sturdy, resistant barrier and prevent further cracks or corrosion. This takes anywhere from one hour to two days.
For complete replacements, sometimes the pipe bursting method is used. For this, an expander head is placed inside one end of a solid pipe. A pulling line is fed through the pipe to the other end, where a pulling machine slowly tugs it forward. As the pipe hits the machine, the head keeps going, breaking and chipping the pipe away inch by inch. Once the old pipe is completely destroyed, the machine can then pull out the pieces and install a new pipe in its place.
Other less popular but still effective methods of trenchless water line repair & replacement are also worth consideration. Shotcrete lining is where concrete or mortar are sprayed into the pipe to seal any cracks and create a thin barrier of resistance to future damage. Mechanical spot repair utilizes a camera to help find specific spots inside of a pipe to repair instead of replacing or updating the entire thing. The grout-in-place is similar to the cured-in-place method except that it uses grout to repair damage instead of polyester or other materials. All of these courses of action require much less effort and money than traditional trench digging.
If you find yourself with a damaged water line underground, take into consideration the options that you have. You don’t have to sacrifice your lawn to repair your pipes. Looking up which trenchless method would be the best for your needs will save you time and money, both in the initial repair costs and in the amount of effort that would be wasted by fixing the damage caused by a trench.