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Pipe Bursting - The New Method of Drain Replacements

Hello everyone – welcome to this week’s episode of “How NOT to Call the Plumber!”.

This week we’re going to talk about a very cool style of drain replacement in the plumbing world called “Pipe Bursting” or “Trenchless” technology. It will change your beliefs in what is possible!

As I’m sure many of you unfortunately know, the clay or cast iron drains under your home and front yard are likely very old. Subsequently, this means that they are slowly deteriorating, collapsing, cracking etc. In the past, replacing these would have been a huge undertaking. We would have to expose the entirety of the pipe, which often meant not only digging up someone’s entire front yard, but very often also having to remove the front porch, break up concrete walkways, or remove the driveway altogether! Repairing or replacing some of these can easily cost a homeowner $20,000 or more!

In recent years, things have changed, in that we’ve started using the trenchless technology wherever we can. What this allows us to do it replace the entirety of the pipe, often only having to dig a relatively small hole outside (usually about 6’ x 6’), as well as an access point in the basement. This means that homeowners not only get to save some of the landscaping, but often more importantly, not have to do things like remove the porch – we burst right under it!

You’re probably wondering how this machine works… In theory, it is actually quite simple in that it uses hydraulics to “pull” a cable through the existing pipe. Attached to that cable is a steel head, which is larger than the existing pipe. When we pull that head through the existing pipe, it quite literally bursts right through it, making way for the new piping to follow behind. At full steam, we can pull that new pipe through at about 6’ per minute – it’s really quite amazing! Once we have pulled the pipe through the portion we are replacing, all that’s left is to connect the new pipe to the old and that’s it – we’ve now replaced 10, 20, 30 feet of piping with only a 6’x6’ hole!

For full disclosure here and to avoid any potential surprises, that hole sometimes needs to be slightly larger, depending on the depth of the drain, other utilities that may be running in the same path, etc. Also, we need somewhere to put all that dirt while we are working! At the end of the day, it is definitely still an inconvenience, but better than digging a 20’ foot trench!

While this is one you would definitely need to call the plumber about, I thought many of you might find it interesting – and it is also always a good idea to know your options!

That’s it for this week. I hope you all have a warm, wonderful weekend and we’ll see you next time!



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