Up until the last two decades or so, repairing a damaged sewer line was a nasty affair — diagnosing the problem was hard enough on its own, but then the time came to fix the sewer line, it would require a hefty excavation project that could very well tear up a yard’s thoughtful landscaping to an irreparable degree. Back then, we didn’t have any reliable ways to fix underground pipes short of digging them out.

Nowadays, we are lucky to have a few different methods of pipe repair that aren’t so invasive, and two of them require nothing more than digging up a tiny plot and a corresponding hole to give access to pipe repair methods that can operate entirely underground. We call this “trenchless pipe repair” due to the ability to get the job done without digging a trench for pipe access.

There are two primary methods of trenchless pipe repairCured-in-place pipes (CIPP), and pipe bursting. The former relines the broken pipe, while the latter replaces it entirely with a brand new one. Both methods are viable options for sewer pipe repair, and in this blog post, we’ll explain when you might want to choose one over the other.

Pipe Bursting Explained

Imagine trying to push a pencil through a slightly thinner drinking straw. Even though the straw is too small to accommodate it, would eventually give, rupturing and breaking as the pencil pushes its way through. This, essentially, is what happens during a pipe bursting operation.

With pipe bursting, a larger pipe with a pointed end is pulled through your existing sewer line. The power of the machine and the size of the pipe will ensure that the new pipe completely tears through the old one, “bursting” it and leaving the new one in its place. This is a good way to completely replace an old pipe.

CIPP Relining Explained

CIPP relining, on the other hand, repairs your pipe instead of replacing it. With this method, an epoxy-coated liner is laced through the broken pipe in a similar fashion to pipe bursting. However, this fits inside of your pipe instead of destroying it. When everything is set up, the liner expands and cures to the walls of the old pipe, sealing holes and cracks with reliable precision.

Which is Better For Your Needs?

Truthfully, it’s hard to have a blanket statement for which system is better, since they both serve slightly different purposes. At the end of the day, the best thing to do is to call your local sewer pipe repair professionals for an expert diagnosis.

However, we would be remiss if we didn’t name at least a few examples. Pipe bursting isn’t ideal for a yard that has a delicate landscaping setup. Pipe bursting is a little more abrasive and disruptive to the terrain since you’re pulling a larger pipe through and replacing the old one. This can cause slight terrain imbalances — nothing permanent, but with some yards, it’s best to just not take a chance. Your sewer pipe repair professional can help determine how disruptive pipe bursting may or may not be to your yard.

Meanwhile, the CIPP method is best suited for pipes that don’t have extreme damage. CIPP works best when it can generally maintain the shape of the pipe, so significant imbalances in pipe size can throw the procedure off. For example, if the pipe has gotten warped in some places or accumulated massive holes in others, it could cause problems.

Want a professional diagnosis? Our sewer pipe repair team has served countless clients in the greater Seattle area, and we’d be happy to help you with your sewer line repair. Contact us today!