Pipe Bursting Myths and Misconceptions

By Matt Timberlake, President, Ted Berry Trenchless Technologies Team LLC | March 2012, Vol. 67 No. 3

Myth #2: Pipe bursting should only be used when the pipe CANNOT be excavated. -- Pipe bursting should be considered when any of the following conditions exist:
• Pipe to be replaced is in a high traffic area;
• An environmentally sensitive area;
• Surface restoration costs are high;
• Disruption to the general public and local business is undesirable;
• A reduction in emissions from the project is beneficial;
• Replacing the existing pipe in the same corridor without establishing another utility easement;
• A reduction in construction schedule is desired; or
• Any utility replacement project where an alternative method would increase competitiveness of bidding is desired.

Myth #3: Pipe bursting and CIPP are comparable technologies. -- CIPP is and will be a proven and reliable rehabilitation technique. However, pipe bursting is a pipe replacement technique where a new factory manufactured pipe is installed and replaces the existing pipe. CIPP relines the existing pipe forming to its internal diameter and shape. Pipe bursting will install a new pipe that has a true ID and eliminated offsets, deflections or other pipe deviations that CIPP would not.

Myth #4: Pipe bursting is only practical when you need to increase the size of the pipe. -- A significant amount of pipe bursting completed in the United States is for "size on size" replacement where additional capacity is not required. Although pipe bursting does have the ability to increase the ID of the existing pipe, it is a very practical and widely used method for replacing existing pipe with a same-sized product.

Myth #5: Pipe bursting is only practical where there are a small number of service connections. -- The number of service connections on a pipe bursting project, whether it is for sewer, water or gas replacement, will increase cost and add excavation. However, even with a significant number of service excavations required, the total reduction of excavation can exceed 80 percent and the project cost be significantly lower than that of open-cut excavation. Although technologies like CIPP can reinstate service connection robotically with no excavation, many owners find that by excavating during a pipe bursting and installing a new "hard connection" to the new mainline, the results of reduced infiltration and inflow or water loss is worth the additional expense and effort.

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