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Is it more affordable to excavate pipes or burst them?Hearing that underground sewer pipes have collapsed, corroded or otherwise failed is never something that home or property owners welcome. Replacing a sewer pipe can cost thousands in labor and material fees, and this goes without factoring in expensive landscaping. For instance, if your sewer line runs beneath your driveway or sidewalk, these surfaces would have to be excavated to replace pipes in a traditional manner; this is often the most expensive component of sewer line replacement. 

Even more troublesome, these repairs can take several days, if not weeks, to restore your property’s plumbing to full working order. Your family may have to relocate during this time, as buildings often need to be vacant during the replacement process. Collapsed sewer line repairs also disrupt traffic in many cases, only adding the renovation bill you’ll ultimately be faced with.

Fortunately, modern plumbing technology can help homeowners and commercial property owners alike avoid tearing apart their lawn to replace pipes. Innovative pipe bursting, a trenchless technology, makes it possible for plumbing pros to fully replace irreparable pipes with minimal digging. 

Costs of Bursting vs. Costs of Digging

Replacing pipes with bursting has a higher initial cost than comparable dig-and-replace repairs; however, bursting also avoids the costly landscaping, relocation and labor associated with traditional replacement.

The actual cost of pipe replacement, for either bursting or dig-and-replace methods, depends on a few factors. This includes:

  • Pipe depth on your property 
  • Pipe material
  • Landscaping features or surface level obstructions above the pipe
  • Pipe length
  • Gas line locations and digging safety
  • Nearby utility lines

The most affordable pipe replacement method for your damaged line depends almost entirely on circumstance. For instance, if your collapsed pipe is relatively shallow and does not run underneath a driveway, or other surface level obstruction, it could be less expensive to dig it out and replace the pipe manually. 

However, if the pipe in question runs underneath a sidewalk or other major landscaping features, replacing it internally with pipe bursting could end up saving you thousands in lawn repair costs. In some cases, bursting is a home or property owner’s only option, such as when natural gases, asbestos or other safety concerns make digging a pipe impossible.

Note: if your damaged line runs adjacent to other utility, water or power lines, pipe bursting is not recommended. During application, the damaged pipe is fragmented and pushed aside to make room for the new line, which can damage nearby utility lines if not done properly.

A Snapshot of the Pipe Bursting Process

It may sound complex at first, but trenchless pipe bursting is actually completed in a very simple process. Following a full inspection of damaged pipes in question, trenchless experts will dig small access points at both ends of the affected pipe. 

Through these points, a steel, cone-shaped bursting head with be inserted through the damaged pipe; via hydraulic power or pull rod, this bursting head is pulled through the length of the pipe, fragmenting the old line and physically pushing it out of the head’s path. 

A replacement pipe, attached to the flat end of the bursting head, is laid seamlessly in place as the head bursts through the old pipe. This application, which can take as little as a few hours to complete, does away with the tedious digging and labor of traditional repairs, which can end up costing you significantly less.

Determining if Pipe Bursting is Right for You

When dealing with failed sewer pipe lines, the first step you should take is contacting a professional plumbing team in your area to fully diagnose the problem. Industry standard video inspection equipment can help pipe experts determine the extent and cause of your pipe damage, and help you identify whether pipe bursting or manual replacement would be less expensive. 

As this is based almost entirely on individual circumstances, what was most affordable for a property around the block may not be the same for your own. For the greatest assurance that you’re getting the most affordable, practical pipe replacement, reach out to trenchless technology pros in your community before settling on a replacement method.

Save $300 on Water Line Replacement

Topics: Pipe Bursting, Trenchless Technology, Sewers