Pipe Bursting Large Diameter Pipe - Class C Pipe Bursting

8th In A Series From The IPBA
By Matt Timberlake, President, Ted Berry, Trenchless Technologies Team LLC, International Pipe Bursting Association Marketing Committee | December 2011, Vol. 66 No. 12
Class C bursting diagram.

Editor’s Note: The International Pipe Bursting Association (IPBA), a division of NASSCO, is presenting a series of articles in Underground Construction that will provide the reader with a better understanding of the technology. Many myths and misconceptions exist regarding this proven rehabilitation method for replacing existing underground utilities.

Pipe bursting is a proven method for replacing underground pipelines and is the only method of pipeline rehabilitation and replacement that can increase the size of an existing utility without trenching. This article will discuss the replacement of large diameter pipes.

In pipe bursting terminology, large diameter bursting refers to existing pipe sizes larger than 20-inches in diameter and the IPBA classifies large diameter pipe bursting as Class C Pipe Bursting.


The most common application for pipe bursting in the United States is smaller diameter pipes generally in the six to 10-inch range which represents up to 80 percent of the market. However, large diameter pipe bursting is a proven method and is increasingly used as pipes like interceptors, trunk lines and main distribution mains are in need of replacement due to deterioration or increase in hydraulic demands. The passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 caused interceptor sewers to be built in older U.S. cities, many of which are located in remote easements and in close proximity to waterways. Now, nearly 40-years-old and failing due to structural defects or corrosion and in many cases undersized due to population growth, these larger diameter pipes are in need of replacement. Pipe bursting offers many advantages when compared to traditional dig and replace or other more common rehabilitation methods like CIPP.

Both static and pneumatic pipe bursting are common in large-diameter pipe bursting and the capabilities have increased significantly in the past 10 years as contractors have gained real world experience, manufacturers have improved the systems available and owners/consultants have been willing to consider pipe bursting on their projects. The concept of pipe bursting does not change as the diameter increases. However, the experience required and considerations made are much more detailed as they are with almost any construction method as pipes get larger.

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