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Underground utility lines may render some trenchless repair options impractical.Of all the factors that come into play when renovating underground water or sewer pipe lines, perhaps the most overlooked is the location of utility lines underneath your property; the closer they are in proximity to damaged pipe lines, the more complex (and expensive) repairs will typically become.

Take, for instance, the trenchless pipe replacement application, pipe bursting. Bursting physically fragments and pushes away severely damaged pipe, and lays new pipe in a single, seamless installation process. However, if there are critical utility lines running parallel to the damaged line in question, bursting will be ruled out as a repair option. Underground utility lines, and their relative location to your damaged pipe line, can completely rule out certain repair methods. 

The effectiveness of certain trenchless technologies will vary on a case-by-case basis; things like pipe location, depth, surface-level fixtures and utility lines all affect total pipe repair cost. Before committing to a pipe repair method, be sure to have trenchless experts perform utility line location services on your property. In doing so, you can avoid making expensive mistakes when renovating damaged pipe lines.

Utilities That Can Affect Pipe Repair

When it comes to repairing underground pipe lines, whether it’s by bursting or pipe lining, locating utility lines is just as essential a preliminary step as hydro-jetting. The utility location tools used by today’s trenchless plumbing experts can effectively find any type of utility line. This includes the following most common property utility lines:

  • Underground water lines, which may run adjacent to the damaged lines under your home/yard
  • Sewer and septic pipe lines
  • Irrigation lines; are damp patches on your lawn the result of a cracked water line or faulty irrigation?
  • Electric lines
  • Cable lines
  • Gas lines; avoiding these lines is necessary at all costs. A ruptured gas line can turn a minor plumbing issue into an emergency situation.
  • Fiber optic cables

The main way a utility line will affect underground pipe repair is if the line is physically near the pipes being repaired. If renovations can be conducted without harming electric lines or other water lines beneath your home, there’s typically no limitation as to what repair options are suitable. However, if tending to damaged, collapsed or faulty underground pipe lines puts nearby utilities in jeopardy, some repair options become impossible. 

Most pipe lining applications can be completed despite nearby utility lines, as these repairs do not break or displace the existing pipe line in the way pipe bursting does. The cured-in-place, epoxy pipe resins used in lining create entirely new pipe segments within existing lines; if digging is required at all, it’s done using directional boring machines, which allow trenchless pros to access pipes through small, controlled entry points.

However, if bursting or pipe excavation is more suited (whether it’s due to the extent of pipe damage or depth under your lawn surface), the location of utility lines must be considered. You cannot safely burst or excavate a pipe line if critical gas lines follow the same path. In these cases, homeowners must look into other pipe repair options, even if they come with a higher price tag, for safety’s sake.

Things About Underground Utility Lines You Should Know

One of the most important things to keep in mind about underground utility lines, especially as they relate to pipe repair, is that your utility line configuration may be very different than other properties in your area. Utility lines are not necessarily laid in a straight line, such as between your home sewer line and municipal sewers. This is why it’s important to have trenchless plumbing experts locate your utility lines first, before signing off on any pipe repairs.

Additionally, not all utility installations or past services may be documented in full. If this is the case for your property, pursuing something like pipe bursting may put critical utility lines at risk. 

The safest way to tend to underground pipe damage is by contacting trenchless pros in your area and having professional utility assessments performed (as well as video pipe inspection). These preliminary tasks can help you identify not only the most practical pipe repair method in your situation, but also the most affordable.

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Topics: Utility Location, Pipe Bursting, Pipe Lining, Relined, Inspection