Proper Prep, Execution Cures First-Time Bursting Butterflies

16th In A Series From The IPBA
By Matt Timberlake, President, Ted Berry Trenchless Technologies Team LLC | November 2012, Vol. 67, No. 11

Pipe bursting is a proven, reliable method for replacing deteriorated and undersized pipe lines. Although many North American utility system owners and operators, consulting engineers, suppliers and contractors have years of overall experience, a substantial number still have not had their first experience with the technology. This article will detail some of the perspectives surrounding users "first time" application of pipe bursting.

As a utility owner, there are many benefits that merit consideration of pipe bursting for your next utility renewal project. However, in today's ever-growing marketplace, there seems to be a never-ending supply of new methods that are touted as the next best thing.


Pipe bursting is often considered to be a rehabilitation technique and frequently compared to CIPP lining. However, in reality, pipe bursting is a renewal process as it installs a new pipe in place of the old one. With that said, pipe bursting can be looked at in terms of feasibility vs. open-cut construction, slip lining and/or CIPP. For an owner, research is important to gain a general understanding of the technology and its applications. Like many technologies, lingo and terminology can be hard to understand (this subject was the focus of an article in the May 2011 issue of Underground Construction) which leaves an owner somewhat confused through the feasibility, design, bid and construction stages of a project. There are many sources for learning the basics as well as more advanced means and methods considerations including trade shows such as UCT or No-Dig, a NASTT good practices course, or studying the IPBA guideline and case studies.

First burst
A system owner recently had his first experience bidding and awarding a pipe bursting job. Although the project was successful, there were some stressful moments through the process which were unnecessary. The owner had a 24-inch VCP gravity sewer line that ran cross country approximately 400-feet through a number of private utility easements. The pipe was shown during a CCTV inspection to be partially collapsed and had a number of sinkholes developing above the pipe on private property. In considering open-cut construction, the damage caused to the private property and mature trees would have been significant and costly. CIPP would have limited success and require a costly excavation to repair the partial collapse that measured almost 50-feet in length. In considering pipe bursting, the owner liked the process and the benefits but was simply unfamiliar with how to best bid, award and make sure the project was executed correctly.

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