When you are living in a home that is 40 years old or older, there may be a fear in the back of your mind. The older your home, the older its plumbing is, and the older the plumbing is, the sooner the sewer line will have to be replaced. Replacing a sewer line is an expensive and intrusive process, and there’s no telling when your current pipes will begin to fail and you’ll have to call your plumber. Traditionally, replacing sewer lines is done with a process called trenching, where the old line is dug up and replaced, but there are a couple of new, trenchless techniques that are gaining popularity.
Trenchless sewage line pipe replacement can be done in one of two ways: pipe lining or pipe bursting. With pipe lining, a small, flexible, resin-coated tube is slid into the damaged pipe, then it is inflated (like the balloons that clowns shape into animals). After several hours, the tube hardens and creates a new, undamaged pipe. This pipe is slightly smaller in diameter, but shouldn’t affect the overall flow rate of the sewer. The other trenchless method, pipe bursting, is a process that pulls a completely new pipe into the old one, which fractures outward from the pressure.
There are a few obvious advantages to a trenchless method. Because there is less digging, the process is usually cheaper. With traditional methods, anywhere the line runs must be dug up, and this can include landscaping and even driveways and garages. The digging used in trenchless methods is minimal and unobtrusive. As far as durability goes, either method generally comes with a warranty of up to 50 years.
Pipe bursting and lining are not possible in all circumstances. In some places, pipe bursting is illegal, and in other instances, the joints of the pipe make these techniques impossible. In many cases, extra efforts must be taken to make sure that electrical and gas lines will be unaffected by the process, and this can lead to higher labor costs. Also, it may be harder to find plumbing experts who specialize or are trained in these methods.
Though trenchless techniques like pipe lining and pipe bursting are great in circumstances, traditional trenching and pipe replacement is in no way antiquated. With a responsible and qualified group of plumbers, care can be taken to preserve existing landscaping and other fixtures. Also, with traditional trenching, you have a lot more choices when it comes to the shape of your pipes and the materials they’re made of.