Pipe Bursting – Terminology And Lingo: What Does It All Mean?

By Matt Timberlake, President, Ted Berry Trenchless Technologies LLC | May 2011, Vol. 66 No. 5

One area that has a variety of terms all meaning similar things are pits required for pipe bursting. Dr. Jason Leuke of Arizona State stated that pipe bursting should be emphasized as a trenchless technology and not a trench-free technology because often people new to the industry do not understand that there will be some digging on a pipe bursting project. (Typically only 10-20 percent of an open-cut project, but still digging is required). Once everyone understands that there will be some digging on a pipe burst project it is important to understand what those pits are called and their purpose.

An “insertion pit,” “pipe pit” and “launch pit” are the same names for a pit used to get the pipe into the ground once hooked to the pipe bursting tooling. The type of pipe being installed, whether HDPE, PVC, fusible PVC, DI or others, will all require slightly different pits. It is very important that everyone involved in the project understand what the configuration needs to be to ensure success.

“Machine pits,” “receiving pits,” “pull pits” and “exit pits” are again all names for similar pits that are required for the end of the pipe burst project opposite the “insertion pit.” Depending on the method (static or pneumatic), the size and type of pipe being installed, depth, configuration of the tooling and expander head being used, will all dictate the requirements of this pit(s). “Service pits,” or “lateral pits” are also required for reconnection of sewer laterals, water service lines, gas services or other connections needed to the mainline.

The tooling that is used to physically “burst” the pipe and expand the ground again will have many different names and configurations. It is important to differentiate between industry terms and jargon from the field. From “pilots,” “schnozzles,” ” bullets,” “ splitters,” “slitters,” “blade sets,” “bladed starters,” “moles,” and many others each serving a very unique and specific purpose. In a static system, a solid steel rod is fed through the existing pipe which will handle the full load of the burst. These rods have a variety of designs that are common in the industry. There are two widely-used rod configurations in the market: an “API” style rod similar to that used in the drilling industry; and a “quick lock” rod manufactured by TT Technologies. Both of these rod systems have been proven and work when used in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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