Pipe Bursting Various Types Of Pipes

By Matt Timberlake, President, Ted Berry Trenchless Technologies LLC, International Pipe Bursting Association Marketing Committee | June 2011 Vol. 66 No. 6

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 mature technology used to replace existing underground utility lines. Some of the most common questions owners and engineers have when considering pipe bursting are “what types of pipes can be burst?” and “what types of pipes can be installed by pipe bursting?” This article will provide insight into answering those questions as well as highlight some of the design and practical considerations that need to be accounted for on any pipe bursting project.

First and foremost when considering any pipe bursting project, it is important to identify the type of material of the existing pipeline. Over the last 100-plus years, gravity and pressure pipes have been installed made of wood, brick, clay, iron, cement, asbestos cement and plastics as well as other less common types and variations of these pipe materials. Pipe types like PVC truss pipe, Perma-Strand and others are trade names and these “hybrid” types of pipes should be identified clearly in the planning stage of a project as they should be looked at differently in some cases than more common pipe types.

Pipe bursting must fracture and split the existing pipe. Therefore, pipes are most often classified as “fracturable” or “non-fracturable” and that helps determine both the method of pipe bursting that can and should be used as well as the type of “burst head” or “splitter” that will be necessary to properly “burst” the pipe. Nearly all pipe types can be safely burst if considerations are made for how they will react to the bursting process.

The most common types of gravity sewer pipes burst and replaced are: vitrified clay pipe (VCP), asbestos cement (AC), concrete pipe (CP) and PVC. With a properly designed pipe bursting system, materials such as reinforced cement pipe (RCP) and even brick can be burst very successfully. In municipal water main replacement, which is widely popular overseas and gaining more acceptances in North America, CI, AC and DI are the most common pipe types being replaced. These pipes must be “split” and not necessarily “burst.” However, the process is very similar to that of a fracturable pipe. This is often referred to as pipe splitting but is simply a different attachment on the front of the pipe bursting tooling.

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