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Trenchless Pipe Repair 101: How It Works

Over time, even a well-built sewer line that is manufactured from high-quality materials will eventually wear out. Sewer lines are exposed to some of the harshest operating conditions of any part of your home on a day to day basis: they have to contain and transport all types of wastewater, waste material, and other debris and refuse out to your sewer system, which means they have to deal with the worst of the worst. Over time, these lines eventually wear out, crack, leak, and spill sewage onto your property. In order to avoid this, you’ll need to replace your sewer line.

While this is more common with older homes where the lines have been in service for 30 to 40 years or more, nearly any sewer line could experience an unexpected issue. It’s not uncommon here in California, particularly as earthquakes and aftershocks cause our land to move, soil to settle, and these lines to suddenly face different forces and pressure. This can result in cracking, total separation, collapsing and more.

However, the previous sewer replacement methods that involved completely digging up the old line to replace it are almost entirely a thing of the past. Today, we have modern trenchless sewer repair technology that can solve your problem without any major upheaval of land or impact on your property. How does it work? This blog has the answers you’re looking for. If you have scheduled one of these services and want to learn more about it, or if you think you may have a problem with your sewer line, then read on to learn more about this modern process.

Trenchless Pipe Lining

There are actually two types of trenchless pipe repair: pipe lining and pipe bursting. First, we’ll discuss pipe lining. This process uses a thin pipe liner to completely fill up and cover the entire inside of an existing sewer line, sealing off any leaks or cracks that might be causing sewage to spill out into your property. A liner is initially soft and flexible, and imbued with a resin that completely hardens into a water-tight seal when dry. This liner is fed through your segment of damaged line by a specialized winch tool, and is then inflated once it is in place. This forces the liner to completely fill the inside of your sewer line, where it dries. Once dry, the liner will provide a water-tight new sewer line using the old line as a support structure.

This method is particularly popular for fixing things like minor leaks, small cracks, and general wear and tear. Because the liner is so thin, it takes up a completely negligible amount of area inside your sewer line, meaning no significant reduction in pipe capacity. Likewise, the liners are anything but flimsy—they’re often rated to last for 50 years or more when properly installed.

However, this method can’t be used in a lot of situations. For example, if a line is structurally deficient, too badly damaged, or has a problem like sagging, bellying, or improper slope, this method won’t actually fix the problem. Therefore, you’ll need to use a different method of sewer repair.

Trenchless Pipe Bursting

Pipe bursting is the second method of trenchless pipe repair, and involves tearing apart the old sewer line while immediately, simultaneously replacing it with a new one. In this process, an extremely hard, metal “bursting” head is fed through your damaged sewer line using an ultra-strong winch. This bursting head tears apart the existing line, leaving a gap in the ground where it once stood. However, attached to this bursting head is a flexible but solid new line that will be laid its place. Once the bursting head is pulled completely through, the new line is attached to both ends and the sewer is good to go once again.

This process is significantly faster than pipe lining, and it is a great way of completely repairing any lines that are damaged beyond repair, including those that pipe lining can’t fix. However, it does leave bits of the old line buried underground. Also, this also doesn’t solve problems like poor structure, poor routing, or sagging. These are issues that can usually only be resolved through a complete excavation and reinstallation of a brand-new sewer line.

Do you need a new sewer line? Is a trenchless sewer option right for you? Contact All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical today by dialing (909) 253-0664 to schedule a sewer inspection service and find out!