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Trenchless in Austin

Pipe Lining, Pipe Bursting & The Traditional “Excavate & Replace”

The most common and most successful wastewater repair option is the “excavate & replace” method.  However, there are two wastewater repair options for trenchless in Austin, “pipe lining” and “pipe bursting”.

Excavate & Replace – Non-Trenchless Method

The traditional wastewater repair of “Excavate & Replace” (non-trenchless method) is a tried-and-true method and almost always the best option.  The process consists of trenching the yard and tunneling under the foundation to gain access to the existing pipes for replacement.  “Excavate & replace” can repair pipes with issues such as settlement, bellies, back-fall, breaks, and joint separations whereas “trenchless” methods cannot.  When a line is excavated and replaced, these issues are removed and replaced with new pipes. 

Excavate & replace advantages – As compared to the “trenchless” methods discussed below, the “excavate & replace” method can update plumbing lines to  achieve current plumbing codes.  For example, previous plumbing code required a 1/8 inch “fall” for each foot of pipe, the current code requires 1/4 inch “fall” for each foot of pipe.  The functionality of your wastewater system can be greatly improved by increasing the “fall” and size of your wastewater lines.  When excavating and replacing a line, following current plumbing codes is easily achievable.

Excavate & replace disadvantages – Although excavation teams do their best to maintain a clean and organized jobsite, containing dirt can be a challenge.  The volume of dirt excavated far exceeds other methods.  Excavators trench your yard and tunnel under your home placing soil within the exterior workspace.  During the excavate & repair process, gardens and lawns become damaged and may require landscaping repair.

Pipe Lining – Trenchless in Austin Option

Under some conditions where extensive excavation is not possible, the “trenchless” option of pipe lining should be considered.  This method is sometimes more affordable than other options and can be performed quickly.  Performing repairs with pipe lining will restore functionality and flow capacity back to your wastewater system.

The purpose of pipe lining is to create an inner bladder within an existing pipe (“host pipe”) using a flexible tube coated with epoxy.  The process starts by creating access holes at the beginning and end of the damaged pipe.  An epoxy liner is pulled through the existing line and inflated using pressurized air.  Following the liner installation, hot water is run through the system as the liner cures within the existing pipe, the curing process typically takes several hours.

Pipe lining is a less invasive solution for pipe repair, it is often cost effective, and can be completed quickly.  However, some would argue that installing pipe lining is simply delaying the inevitable replacement.  The pipe lining process does not restore strength to old pipes and will not last as long as new piping.  The long-term success of the pipe lining is dependent upon the integrity of the failing pipe where the liner has been installed.  Pipe lining does not work if pipes are collapsed, smaller in diameter and if the liner is required to make multiple bends.  Unfortunately, upgrading to meet current codes and guidelines are often unachievable when pipe lining.

Pipe Bursting - Trenchless in Austin Option

Another form of trenchless in Austin is “pipe bursting”.  Under some conditions where excavation is not possible and the existing pipe cannot host a liner, pipe bursting may be the only option.  Pipe bursting is a technique in which the existing pipe is “burst” or “broken-open” along its entire length. The goal of pipe bursting is to enlarge the diameter of the old pipe.  For example, if the diameter of the old pipe is 3 inches, following pipe bursting the diameter may be 4 inches.  In this example, bursting the pipe will create a void or opening large enough to host a new 4-inch pipe.

Bursting starts by excavating each end of the damaged line and running a high-tension steel cable through the existing pipe.  Attached to the cable is a “bursting cone” followed by a new pipe.  Simultaneously, the cable, bursting cone and new pipe are pulled through the length of the old pipe.  When the process is completed, within your old pipe, you will be left with a seamless high density polyethylene pipe.

Pipe bursting advantages:

  • In some cases, pipe bursting is a cheaper option compared to trenching and tunneling.
  • Provides an opportunity to increase capacity by installing a larger pipe size.
  • Less invasive compared to excavate & replace.
  • The new pipe will have more resiliency and durability.
  • Preserves your yard from scaring that trenching leaves behind.

Pipe bursting disadvantages:

  • When installing the new line, following current plumbing codes will be difficult to achieve.
  • The need for two access holes can be problematic if located in the house or the city street.
  • The bursting head has difficulty when making turns or bends.
  • Pipe bursting has limitations if the existing pipe has collapsed.
  • Pipe bursting cannot fix sags or bellies in the line.
  • Not cost effective in pipes that are shorter than 30 feet.
  • Upgrading to meet all current codes and guidelines are often unachievable when pipe bursting.


Although “excavate & replace” is the most widely used repair method, there isn’t one technique better or worse than another, what’s important is to determine which method is best suited for your repair.  Trenchless in Austin pipe lining and pipe bursting, although fast and less intrusive, may not be the best option.  Before beginning a trenchless project, be sure to research the potential risks and alternatives.  Trenchless wastewater replacement is not a job for your average plumber.  The techniques of pipe lining and pipe bursting should always be performed by an experienced, professional plumber.

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