When is Trenchless Sewer Repair the Right Option and How Does it Work?
Dealing with sewer line problems is a nightmare for any home or property owner. Not only is it usually a smelly, unpleasant job, it can be extremely costly and disruptive to the daily routine of your business or home. When sewer line problems occur, it can be difficult to ascertain what’s behind them. Sometimes it’s an old pipe that simply can’t handle the job anymore. Other times, tree roots have crowded the line and are obstructing the flow of water and waste. No matter what the cause of your sewage line problem, getting it repaired quickly and with as little disruption as possible is the main concern.
Sewage line repairs used to mean major excavation of your yard and maybe even tearing out your hardscaping or interior walls or flooring surrounding the pipe line. The extensive excavation required heavy machinery to be driven through your property, leaving you with yet another repair job once the sewer line job was complete. If hardscaping was torn out, the expenses associated with replacing it could wreck even the largest household budget. Fortunately, sewage line repair and replacement technologies have advanced and trenchless methods offer a way for property owners to fix their sewage problems at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional methods. Here’s what trenchless technology is all about and the information you need to determine if it is the solution to your plumbing problems.
What is Trenchless Sewer Repair?
As the name implies, this technology offers a couple of different ways to repair sewage lines with minimal excavation. One approach is called pipe bursting and the other is known as pipe lining. Both methods were introduced about fifteen years ago, yet many homeowners are unaware of their options and the benefits they provide.
Both methods allow replacement or repair of your lines without extensive digging or the removal of hardscaping such as decking, patios or driveways or even interior walls and flooring encasing the pipeline. Better yet, pipes lined or burst and repaired with these methods have a fifty year life expectancy. This technology saves time, money and causes much less disruption to your home or property’s normal rhythm and routine. Trenchless repair methods are a smart, effective and economical choice.
When can Trenchless Methods be Used?
Trenchless methods can be used as long as the existing pipeline is not in extreme disrepair. Pipelines that are already broken cannot be salvaged using this technology and excavation of the pipeline and complete replacement is the only option. Pipelines that are extremely corroded may not be a good candidate for these methods, either. The best way to know if trenchless is right for you is to have a trained technician come out and inspect your line.
Trenchless repair or replacement provides the perfect solution for fixing or replacing pipes that are buried deep underground, if the length of pipe to be repaired or replaced is extremely long or when landscaping and hardscaping would be expensive to repair or replace.
When a pipeline extends out into the street, trenchless methods are a superior choice. Choosing trenchless repair to address problems with lines running into the street can eliminate the major costs and hassles of traffic redirection that accompany digging up a street.
Where trees are plentiful and roots pose a threat to underground lines, trenchless methods offer an impenetrable barrier that will keep your water and sewage lines running free and clear for years to come. In areas where there are high levels of calcium, lime and other line clogging deposits, the smooth interior of the HDPE pipeline does not allow deposits to accumulate and makes line clogging deposits a thing of the past.
For home and property owners interested in long lasting, economical solutions to slow lines, clogged lines or metal lines that may have lead joints and pose a health risk, trenchless methods offer the perfect solution.
How do Trenchless Methods Work?
To determine what is wrong with the sewage line, technicians will use video camera inspection to look into your main sewer and sewer lateral lines such as the laundry and kitchen lines. The video camera inspection will give the technicians a clear view of what is clogging your pipes or if the pipe is broken. Based on what the video inspection reveals, the technicians will decide which method of trenchless sewer repair is the best option for your job, pipe lining or bursting.
In the pipe bursting method, the sewage line is accessed by digging two small holes, one at the beginning and one at the end of the run of line to be repaired. A cable is fed from one end to the other with one end attached to a pneumatic jack and the other to a
conical shaped bursting head. The conical shaped head is pulled by hydraulics with a steel cable through the existing sewage line. As the cable and attached conical bursting head is pulled through the existing pipeline, the old pipe line is burst to pieces while a new line is being simultaneously laid in its place.
The new line is made from seamless HDPE and is the same size or smaller than the original pipeline. The seamless HDPE pipe means you no longer run the risk of weak seams or joints like those found in traditional pipes that often lead to leaks or breaks. Additionally, seams and joints provide weak spots and opportunities for tree roots to crowd and invade the line causing clogs or breaks. Many HDPE pipes come with a long term or even lifetime warranty offering you lasting peace of mind.
Using the pipe lining method, the first step is to clean the existing line. Roots, grease and hair clogs, and descaling of any calcite or other deposits are cleared from the pipeline using hydro jets or pneumatic tools. This cleaning is done so the pipeline is cleared to its full, unclogged diameter. Additional prep may be needed for cast pipes that are very corroded or have a void in the pipe.
After the pipe is cleaned, the lining process begins. First, the technician will cut the length of felt pipe liner needed to line the existing pipe. Next, a custom two part epoxy is mixed and poured into the liner and allowed time to saturate the liner. Then, the liner is pulled through the existing pipe and inflated by a removable bladder so the curing process can begin. Once the curing is complete, the bladder is removed and what is left is a structural pipe within a pipe. Finally, a camera inspection is done to ensure the job was successfully and perfectly done.
Lining the pipes in this way creates a seamless pipe within the existing pipe eliminating the possibility of root intrusion and weak joints and seams. The cured in place pipe also increases water flow since the pipeline is completely clear and open. The flow will remain unobstructed since roots are no longer a threat and calcification deposits cannot stick and collect on the smooth epoxy lining. The lining also structurally strengthens the existing pipeline while it also acts as a stand alone pipe. The lining is incredibly strong and is backed by a long term warranty.
What are the Advantages of Trenchless Methods?
Both trenchless bursting and lining offer a faster, more economical approach to fixing sewage lines over traditional digging and excavation methods. These no dig methods also offer a way to fix problems without causing extensive damage to your landscaping and hardscaping. Using traditional methods, pipe line repair and replacement can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars up to $20,000 or more depending on how much line is involved, how much hardscaping needs to be removed or if concrete from the garage or street needs to be removed. In some cases, homeowners have to pay to dig up pipeline lying beneath city streets and to reroute the traffic normally traveling along that route. As you can imagine, when that type of work is involved, costs can quickly climb into tens of thousands of dollars. Most experts estimate using trenchless methods can save up to 40% over traditional digging methods.
Another major benefit offered by trenchless methodologies is that your new lines will not have seams or joints. Seams and joints in pipe lines are notoriously problematic in terms of their susceptibility to springing leaks, having weak spots, breaks and allowing root intrusion. Corrosion is another common problem with metal pipelines and the HDPE pipe used in trenchless methods makes corrosion impossible. With trenchless methods, these problems are a thing of the past.
Nobody likes dealing with pipeline problems, repairs or replacements, but trenchless methods help take some of the sting, and cost, out of the process. If you are having problems with your plumbing, look into the advantages offered by trenchless repair and replacement and schedule an appointment to have a trained technician come take a look at your lines and see if lining or bursting is a good option for you. Don’t wait until your pipes are too far gone to take advantage of the benefits trenchless technology offers, save yourself time and money by lining or bursting your ill performing pipes and getting high quality, corrosion free, HDPE lines that will last for many years to come.