Geotechnical Conditions And How They Relate To Pipe Bursting

By Matt Timberlake, President, Ted Berry Trenchless Technologies LLC, International Pipe Bursting Association Marketing Committee | July 2011, Vol. 66 No. 7

Each of the three forces can be managed and influenced through proper planning and understanding of the process. For example, the burst force can be directly influenced and reduced through varying burst head and tooling configuration. A vitrified clay pipe sewer line burst head is different from a cast iron burst head. An understanding of the tooling that is used during the burst is important and should be a part of the project plan and submittal. This force can be controlled through the bursting system which can be either static or pneumatic. Expansion forces can be influenced through expander head design and is most often a factor when choosing the actual dynamic tonnages needed to complete a burst. Drag is a very important consideration and must be managed carefully in the field. Typically drag increases as the length of the newly installed pipe is continually inserted into the ground.

Lubrication mixtures can often be used to stabilize the hole and lubricate the new pipe as it is inserted. A true understanding of downhole fluids or lubrication is needed as soils react to fluids in a number of ways dependent on the mixture. A common mistake is to utilize the wrong fluids and actually increase drag in certain ground conditions. A HDD mud school is often a great way to learn the 101 level of the benefits of utilizing lubrication on a burst.

Through continued education involving utility system owners, engineers, manufacturers, contractors and field crews, pipe bursting can continue to become a method of choice for rehabilitating failing underground infrastructure in your community.

Coming in August: Breaking down barriers – How to help sell pipe bursting to utility owners in your community.

IPBA (NASSCO), (410) 486-3500,

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