A Breakdown Of Pipe Bursting

A Breakdown Of Pipe Bursting

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You’ve probably heard the old English proverb — “Necessity is the mother of invention.” When it comes to sewer technology, we know for a fact that this is true. Pipe bursting is an innovative trenchless method of replacing sewer pipes that avoids the hassles that usually accompany a pipeline repair job.

At Sewer Solutions in Seattle, we’re well aware that the average citizen doesn’t spend their time pondering the minutia of sewer replacement and repair, so you might be wondering what exactly pipe bursting actually is. If you’re here reading this blog, it’s likely that you’re in need of some kind of service for your pipe system, so in this post, we’re going to break down the basics of pipe bursting, and help you to understand why it can be the most effective option for sewer pipe repair.

What is Pipe Bursting?

Pipe bursting, in a nutshell, is a trenchless method of completely replacing worn down or damaged underground pipelines. It is most commonly used for sewer lines but is often also employed for water and natural gas pipes.

The easiest way to explain pipe bursting without using boring industry jargon is to use a simple object lesson.

Imagine a typical drinking straw — the kind you’d find at any fast food restaurant. What would happen if you took a pen, one slightly thicker in size, and you tried to force it through the straw? With enough force, the straw would eventually give. It would burst apart as the pen tears through it.

Now, imagine that the straw is your old damaged pipe, buried underground, and the pen is your new pipe. In a pipe bursting operation, you would tie a string to the pointed end of the pen, and pull it through the straw from the other side. Eventually, the pen would replace the straw entirely.

Real life is always more complicated, but when it comes down to it, that’s more or less what pipe bursting is — a new pipe (usually a polyethylene sleeve) is inserted into the old one and is pulled through with a cable by a pulling device on the other end. This is possible due to the “bursting head,” the pointy pen-like tip that is attached to the new pipe.

As the bursting head and pipe are pulled through, the old pipe, unable to withstand the pressure, yields, “bursting” into fragments. After all is said and done, the bursting head is removed, and you’ve got a newer (thicker) pipe!

Unfortunately, while pipe bursting is considered a trenchless technology, it still requires a small pit for insertion. However, this is a far better alternative to completely tearing apart your yard, which was more or less a necessity with the old system.

The Advantage of Pipe Bursting Over Trench-Based Repair

We keep throwing around the words “trenchless repair,” but you might have no idea what that means, and to understand why pipe bursting is such a blessing, it’s important to understand the older, outdated method of sewer pipe replacement.

The old method was relatively straightforward; if you needed to replace an underground pipe, you would have to dig around the whole thing, effectively creating a massive trench, and manually replace it with a new one. This was problematic to say the least, because, depending on your pipe’s location, you could potentially ruin all of your landscaping.

This method is a major hassle even if your yard is a blank canvas full of weeds; it’s timelier, costlier, and leaves extra expenses even after the job is done to repair that massive trench. If you’ve got complex landscaping? Have fun kissing it goodbye and redoing all of it.

And that is exactly why the English proverb that kicked off this post rings so true — only so many pristine yards could be ruined before someone thought, “there has to be a better way.” Fortunately, that eventually led to pipe bursting, and now you have a clean and easy way to completely replace damaged pipes underground in a way that’s hassle-free.

Professional Sewer Pipe Repair and Replacement

From Everett to Lakewood, we’re happy to be there for your sewer pipe repair and replacement needs in the greater Seattle area. We are extremely experienced in all forms of pipe repair, and we’re happy to bring our expertise to your doorstep. If you call Sewer Solutions, you can rest easy knowing that we’ll get the job done quickly and effectively, and go out of our way to deliver exceptional customer service.

In addition to pipe repair and replacement services, we offer utility installation, and other services such as excavation and dump truck services. Don’t catch yourself dealing with the aggravating consequences of a broken underground pipe, whether it’s sewer, water, or gas. Contact us today for a free consultation in the Seattle area!


Applies to sewer line repairs requiring digital camera diagnosis.